Designers and department stores are endangered species, thanks to fickle shoppers — and investors.
With runway spectacles instantly posted on the Internet, consumers have become as jaded as fashion editors. Spring is so ovuh – and it’s not even February!
As a result, the vicious game of fast fashion extends beyond disposable duds to disposable designers. Remember when artists like Donna Karan and Calvin Klein devoted most of their careers to a single vision and an eponymous label? Back then, a bad season was not grounds for dismissal.
Now it is. Many fads last longer than their creators.
Let’s keep score for who’s shuffled their designer decks lately: Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Calvin Klein, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Berluti, Brioni, Marni, Oscar de la Renta and Band of Outsiders.
The ever-faster roulette wheel also just claimed Chloé’s Clare Waight Keller, who voluntarily relinquished her post to Louis Vuitton’s Natacha Ramsay-Levi.
Who? Get used to major fashion houses with heads you’ve never heard of.
My bet: Only Parisian iconoclast Azzedine Alaïa is safe. Why? Because he never follows the rules!
That approach may be the only hope for department stores. The staple of fashion retail for over a century is on life support as customers defect.
Macy’s will shutter many stores in 2017, including three in Houston.
Meanwhile, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue hope to survive by thinking outside the brick box.
Women would rather splurge on a mani-pedi than yet another pair of shoes? No problem. Neiman Marcus – rumored to be for sale — is launching Le Métier de Beauté salons, offering blowouts, brow waxing and mani-pedis at select stores. Not only that, the chi-chi chain has invited Millennial darling Rent the Runway – where shoppers borrow top designers’ wares at a fraction of the cost – to set up shop on its premises.
Houston’s Saks Fifth Avenue is banking on a dazzling new Galleria home and personal service. The temple to taste now makes sartorial house calls in a sleek, fashionably black Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. Call ahead to express your whims (and sizes), and Saks at Your Service delivers a wardrobe and personal shopper to your home, office or hotel room.
Ultimately, that’s the only way retail wins: seducing fashion’s most valuable asset – its customers.