pleasure and gave a huge
department a boutique feel.
that triggered sales.”
to spur more, manhattan
held a Fashion’s night out.
stores citywide stayed open—
and partied with customers—
until midnight on sept. 10,
the start of new york’s spring
fashion collections. Vera Wang
and other designers appeared
at their own boutiques and at
budgets no longer allow
huge style shows and parties,
but intimate gatherings for 20
top shoppers can make them
feel appreciated and can goose
sales. in may, neiman marcus
held a two-hour sale, offering
30 key items for up to half off.
a good portion sold out.
“you’ve got to pinpoint lifestyle
experiences that your customer values,”
banks says. talbots, for instance, held
tea parties for its best customers, allowing them to invite friends and family,
with the retailer providing invitations
and refreshments. the more youth-oriented Hot topic promotes local
bands, has prizes of gibson guitars and
has sold-out signings for marilyn manson. “their business has been out of this
world,” banks says. “they’ve developed
an almost cult following.”
meanwhile, Kmart held its first-ever
trunk show at the manhattan store near
Penn station. Designers wore their own
creations while chatting with customers.
Pop-up shops—such as target’s bullseye
bodegas—arise for days or weeks and hike
a chain’s coolness, with DJs playing while
parties for pals get merchandise for 48 hours and earn half
the proceeds if they sell more
than $10,000 worth.
Budgets no longer
allow huge style
shows and parties,
gatherings for 20 top
shoppers can make
them feel appreciated
and goose sales.
shoppers browse previously unoffered hot
labels. the chain learns whether a concept
works before sinking money into it.
norma Kamali, known for ’80s sleeping bag cocoon coats, takes it another
step, creating a grass-roots workforce.
Women who host try before you buy
exclusivity used to mean chichi
boutiques such as gucci and
yves saint laurent, with guards,
gates and snooty salesclerks. in
today’s new world, exclusivity
pays off for department stores
and discounters alike.
“be more distinctive.
offer things unique to you,”
says bridget Foley, executive
editor of trade pub Women’s
some stores demand that
designers sell only to them.
Vera Wang launched her
lower-priced diffusion line,
simply Vera, at Kohl’s; Kamali, her nK at
Wal-mart; and Ralph lauren, his ameri-
can living at JCPenney. JCPenney also
scooped up allen b. schwartz’s allen b.,
nicole miller’s nicole, and Charlotte
Ronson’s i Heart Ronson labels.
these unexpected unions yield
cash—and cachet. High-end barneys
new york and low-end target teamed
for six days as the former sold the latter’s Rogan gregory wares. not only did
WWD cover it, but 1,000 pieces sold in
two hours. tommy Hilfiger’s exclusive
with macy’s has been a “godsend,” making him its top performer in womens-wear and menswear. and in april, Rachel
Roy—whose namesake label sells to
luxury retailers such as bergdorf goodman—introduced her more inexpensive
Rachel Rachel Roy at macy’s.
comes crashing down,”
Your business may benefit
from some of fashion’s hard-learned lessons.
numbers takes the emotional
guts from it. You must see it
from shoppers’ point of view.”
handbags may succeed because they represent a logical
extension of the company’s
jewelry brand. But Cynthia
Rowley may have gone too
far with pink garden hoses
for Target; ditto on Williams-Sonoma’s infant apparel.
1 Get in the store or on the street and away from
your computer. “Fashion
is personal and emotional,”
says Bud Konheim, CEO of
Nicole Miller. “Poring over
2Demand experienced new hires so they
make their mistakes
beforehand. “We’re making heroes of people who
haven’t earned it—and it
3 Show apparel inter- nationally as it hits
runways. To shorten the
distance between drawing
board and store rack, designers and merchants must collaborate with fabric houses
for new looks year-round.
4Be diverse; don’t confuse. Cartier’s new
5Forget booming busi- ness. “Conditions aren’t
good,” says Konheim. “But
we’ve turned a corner and
find business coming back.”