Luxury Institute News

October 1, 2014

Statement Sweats Have Proved Their Staying Power

October 1, 2014
By Ruth La Ferla

Rita Ora was traveling quasi-incognito when she was snapped this year at Los Angeles International Airport wearing outsize shades, a blush-tone carryall, Air Jordans and a cushy sweatshirt, its hood pulled seductively over her brow.

Olivia Wilde recently strode the same passageways, the picture of ease in a biker coat … and sweatshirt, as did Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who sallied toward the airport lounge wearing a dark fedora and … hey now, you know the refrain.

At the airport, a hub for the paparazzi, who tend to treat its fluid corridors as a makeshift red carpet, off-duty models and Hollywood A-listers have been flaunting their sweatshirts with careless élan, wearing versions embellished with eye-catching slogans, cartoons and jewels and pretty florettes or, alternately, opting for standard issue, raglan-sleeve varieties meant to signal, one suspects, that the wearer is just like you and me.

Clearly civilians relate, which may be why this cozy insignia of slacker chic, once reserved for furtive cigarette jaunts to the 7-Eleven or late nights on the sofa, binge-watching “Revenge,” has become the would-be style-setter’s trophy of choice, an item for all seasons — and occasions.

Its transition from nondescript wardrobe standby, the fashion equivalent of mac and cheese, to luxurious fashion mainstay now seems to have been all but inevitable. “The world of luxury has gone somewhat casual,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a consulting firm. “A lot of people don’t see sweatshirts as basic items anymore.”

Conversely, Mr. Pedraza noted, “a lot of basic items have gone premium.” He may have had in mind the sumptuous interpretations of this humble item that appeared on fall runways and are sold at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Barneys New York and on upscale websites. Prices veer from $30 for an orchid-printed top by Altuzarra for Target to more than $4,400 for a Fendi version ornamented with fake fur, felt, swaths of mesh and crystal, but then, who’s counting?

Such gussied-up sweats can still play down one’s wealth while conferring enough raffishness to suggest that the wearer is too young, too prodigiously gifted or simply too chic to go in for a conventional 9-to-5 uniform. Indeed, these days the only thing inelegant about this once unexceptional garment is its name. And even that has had an upgrade.

Statement sweats, as they’re known in fashion-speak, emerged on the runways over two years ago, making their debut on the runway at Givenchy in the form of a photo-collage sweatshirt, followed last fall with a Bambi-print variation that became an instant fashion hit. The look gained traction in the spring with the parade of high-end sweatshirts at Theory, Kenzo and Alexander Wang, whose white shirt, cheekily inscribed with a “Parental Advisory” legend, was a fashion editor’s favorite.

Photo

Rita Ora moved through Los Angeles International Airport in fashionable sweats and accessories.

Sweats were reprised for fall at Rag & Bone, where a satin shirt was paired with paint-splatter jeans; at 3.1 Phillip Lim, with burnt-orange leather hoodies; and at Isabel Marant, where a lustrous camouflage shirt was shown with baggy fatigues. Surviving yet another season, they emerged for spring 2015 in a boxy version with cutoff sleeves at Jil Sander, covered in multihued sequins at Dsquared2, in a sunburst design at Fausto Puglisi, in silver at Norma Kamali and as a sleeveless top with an extravagant bow and as an evening dress at Bottega Veneta.

Like biker jackets, sneakers and skinny jeans before them, statement sweats have proved their staying power.

“Today it would be a misnomer to use the word ‘trend’ in reference to the sweatshirt,” said Tomoko Ogura, the senior fashion director at Barneys. Ever-evolving, it is now cut in sophisticated fabrics, including but by no means confined to cashmere, chiffon, organza, leather and lace, and offered in varying textures and shapes. So lavishly garnished are some that they are hard to place as sweatshirts at all. Yet consumers are responding, Ms. Ogura said, “because, while the designer’s hand is apparent, their utility is not compromised.”

Their utilitarian provenance is a talking point, indeed a boasting point, among luxury consumers who like to wear their shirts subversively with tuxedo pants or furs or, conversely, to throw on a sequin-encrusted versions to lend dazzle to their leggings or jeans. It’s like wearing a Casio watch with your Brunello Cucinelli cashmere pullover, suggesting a kind of inverse snobbery. “Like you’re playing the game without quite really playing the game,” Mr. Pedraza said.

In some quarters, sweatshirts, like sneakers, remain the great fashion leveler. Paraded this summer in men’s shows as diverse as Bottega Veneta, Neil Barrett and Lacoste, they seemed intended to mask distinctions of class and income or to render them obsolete. “Turns out,” as Guy Trebay noted in a New York Times fashion review, “Mark Zuckerberg didn’t need to outgrow his hoodie and shower shoes.” (Which is not to neglect those 99-percenters repurposing their gym togs as everyday wear in apparent deference to Gap’s recent injunction, in a series of fashion ads, to “dress normal.”)

“Sweatshirts flourish because they work for every demographic and every retail category — men’s, kids, junior contemporary and designer,” said Sheila Aimette, a vice president at the trend forecasting company WGSN. “They are cross-generational and cross-gender.”

Madeline Alford, a digital editorial assistant at Luckymag.com, has incorporated sweats into her workday regalia. Taking her style cues from the Lucky fashion staff, she may, on any given day, combine her black tubular jeans or leather midi-skirt with an oversize sweatshirt. “Instead of a chunky sweater, you could definitely wear a fleece,” she said, “something still warm and efficient.”

Function trumps showiness among Ms. Alford’s priorities. Fashion, she noted, has been gradually turning its back on the flamboyant extremes of street style in favor of a more accessible look. “Much as we love all that crazy, out-there style, it’s not for everybody,” she said.

Sweatshirts, on the other hand, merit her unstinting approval. “They’re what real women wear all the time,” she said.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/fashion/statement-sweats-have-proved-their-staying-power.html?_r=0 

August 27, 2014

In the Loop, At the Half With Betty Liu

Betty Liu
Bloomberg Radio
August 27, 2014

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-27/in-the-loop-at-the-half-with-betty-liu-aug-27-2014-audio-.html

Milton Pedraza’s segment is featured at: 9:35-15:11

August 19, 2014

Nordstrom bets on a slow, cautious entry into Canada

By: Marina Strauss
The Globe and Mail
August 18, 2014

For Karen McKibbin, getting it right is more important than doing it fast in her latest assignment at upscale U.S. chain Nordstrom Inc.

The president of Nordstrom’s Canadian division has been gearing up for two years for the launch of its first store here on Sept. 19 in Calgary’s Chinook Centre. She watched another U.S. retail giant – discounter Target Corp. – stumble in rapidly introducing its first 124 outlets in this country in 2013 amid customer complaints of empty shelves and overhigh prices.

Nordstrom is taking a decidedly different approach from Target, opening its first six stores gradually over 2 1/2 years, she said.

“We are going to stub our toe – we are not going to get everything perfect,” she said in a telephone interview from Calgary, where she has been spending three or four days a week commuting from Nordstrom’s Seattle headquarters. “You can expect us to make changes and respond in real time. We are certainly not resting on our laurels.”

A lot is riding on Ms. McKibbin making a positive first impression with Nordstrom in affluent Calgary. As Target works to make up lost ground, Nordstrom is investing in a slow, deliberate rollout, betting that its first foray outside its home country will pay off in giving customers reasons to return amid rising competition in the luxury field.

Nordstrom posted $14-million (U.S.) of operating losses last year in Canada and expects $35-million in 2014, chief financial officer Mike Koppel has said. The red ink will flow for “several years” before the division contributes to the retailer’s bottom line, he has warned. Eventually, the company anticipates it can generate $1-billion of annual sales in up to 10 department stores and as many as 20 of its Rack discount outlets.

(Target, for its part, had expected to be in the black in the final quarter of its first year in Canada, but instead it reported an operating loss of almost $1-billion last year and analysts anticipate more red ink in 2014.)

But Nordstrom, which is a relatively strong performer south of the border, will face an increasingly crowded luxury market in Canada. Dominant player Holt Renfrew & Co. and men’s wear specialist Harry Rosen Inc. are expanding their stores, while U.S. rival Saks Inc., which was bought by Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Co. in 2013, is preparing to launch its first stores in this country next year. HBC is making progress in polishing its existing operations here.

“Nordstrom is going to have to be adaptable because things will evolve in Canada,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of researcher the Luxury Institute in New York, which has worked with each of Nordstrom, Holts and Saks. “But I think Nordstrom will be a solid competitor.”

In the Institute’s annual survey of luxury retailers’ customer service and store experience, Nordstrom ranked No. 1 this year after coming in second in 2013 and first the previous year.

In Canada, Nordstrom has already shown its cautious approach by delaying the launch of its Rack stores here from a planned 2015 roll out because of the unexpected complexity of building its new systems. Nordstrom also will hold back for now on introducing a separate domestic e-commerce site, said Ms. McKibbin, a veteran of Nordstrom.

“We definitely feel there’s an opportunity for us to serve the customer online and that’s definitely still part of our strategy,” she said. “Although when we’ll be able to offer that to the customer is left to be determined.” Nordstrom allows consumers here to cross-border shop from its U.S. site although steep duty, tax and shipping fees raise the tab about 10 to 20 per cent, a spokeswoman said.

Its next store opens in Ottawa in March, 2015 and, in Vancouver, six months later. “I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about opening our first store,” Ms. McKibbin said. “The cadence is going to allow us the opportunity to open the doors to our first store and really get to work about making the adjustments, things that customers are telling us they want, and then applying that to our next store.”

Click the link to read the entire article, which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/nordstrom-bets-on-a-slow-entry-into-canada/article20100322/

July 7, 2014

Used Chanel bags are worth a lot, but Marc Jacobs? Not so much

By: Erin Griffith
Fortune
July 7, 2014

They’re all considered investments, but which luxury brands hold their value the best may surprise you.

There’s a reason they call them “investment pieces.” At $22,000 for a Proenza Schouler tote or $9,000 for a Ralph Lauren dress, luxury goods are meant to last a lifetime and hold their value. That’s why the market for used designer goods is the most attractive category for online consignment.

One such marketplace, a website called The RealReal, is on track to do $100 million in sales this year. (The company takes a cut of each sale.) The RealReal recently tapped its database of 500,000 luxury goods from 500 designer brands to find which brands have the highest resale value, and which ones hold their value the longest. The startup found that Chanel, Christian Louboutin, and Hermès hold their value the longest. Tod’s and Versace lose their value the fastest.

Perhaps more surprising is which brands carry the highest and lowest resale value. Items from Givenchy, Victoria Beckham, Charlotte Olympia and Alexander McQueen all sell for much closer to their original price than goods from Marni, Alexander Wang, 3.1 Philip Lim, and Marc Jacobs.

Resale values of fashion or luxury goods can fluctuate depending on buzz around a certain designer, particularly if a fashion houses hires a a new creative director or chief executive, according to Rati Levesque, Chief Merchant at The RealReal. “When Phoebe Philo joined Céline as the creative director, it added more resale value to the brand,” she says.

But more important than buzz is availability and discounting. If a luxury brand frequently discounts its goods at outlet stores or online via flash sales, consumers will perceive that they don’t have to pay full price for that brand, says Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, a luxury industry research group. While baby boomer shoppers tend to research something online and then buy it in the store, millennials do it the other way around. They “showroom,” the term for checking out an item in the store before finding the best deal for it online.

“These days you can find ways to arbitrage the brands, because you have so much information and the market is inefficient,” Pedraza says. “Brands have to be careful where they allow their product to be sold.”

For example: Chanel and Hermès do not hold sales in their stores and they have a limited number of outlet stores. Chanel doesn’t even sell its goods online, with the exception of beauty products. “In that sense, it creates a perception of purity,” Pedraza says.” The brands then “back it up with design quality and heritage,” he says. “If I buy something, I will think, ‘Wow it has long term investment value.’”

Below are some luxury brands that fall on both sides of the spectrum.

Click the link to read the entire article which includes quotes from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute:http://fortune.com/2014/07/07/which-luxury-brands-have-highest-resale-value/

July 4, 2014

America becomes absolutely fabulous

By: Laura Chesters
The Independent
July 4, 2014

Striding down Fifth Avenue clutching a monogrammed black Gucci leather satchel, François -Henri Pinault stands out among many of the trackpant-clad visitors to America’s most expensive shopping street.

Americans might still be better known for their casual fashions but Mr Pinault, the chief executive of Gucci’s owner, Kering, is betting that the millions of domestic and international tourists who descend on New York each year want to snap up European labels on their shopping sprees.

The Frenchman, who is married to the Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek  and whose family owns more than 40 per cent of the Paris-based luxury goods giant, says: “Over the last few years we have talked about the growth engine of luxury being in Asia – but it is important to remember the size and potential of America.”

According to market research from Bain/Alta­gamma on the luxury goods industry, the Americas actually passed China as the growth leader last year. The researchers estimate that the continent’s luxury goods market will grow 4 per cent, and the US alone is valued at €66bn (£52bn) this year.  Other European brands, including the UK’s Burberry and Mulberry, have also been steadily building up their presence across North America.

Mr Pinault is in the US to visit Kering’s American luxury division, which launched three years ago, and its flagship Gucci store in New York, the biggest in the world.

Kering, which owns 17 luxury brands including Saint Laurent and Christopher Kane, now plans to invest huge sums renovating some of its 180 US stores and expanding into new areas, as well as into Mexico and South America. Sales at it luxury division rose 8 per cent last year.

Mr Pinault is also betting that wealthy Americans are beginning to change their habits.  “The way of life here has been to not dress up, but the US shopper is becoming more sophisticated.”

Sarah Willlersdorf at ­Boston Consulting Group  agrees that the wealthy millionaires and billionaires in the States have traditionally spent their cash on cars and experiences rather than expensive clothes, but that now what BCG calls the “personal goods” sector is about to enter a boom period.

She says: “The aspirational masses here do want to spend on luxury – they want to spend on brands, and it is growing. There is a huge change in the desire to buy brands.”

BCG expects that by 2020 the US will have more than a third of the luxury market and  will still be bigger than China’s high-end sector. Japan will account for 7 per cent and the rest of Asia about 23 per cent of the global luxury market. Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a consultancy, agrees: “There are big opportunities for European luxury brands in the US.”

America already makes up 18 per cent of Kering’s group sales, and Mr Pinault is keen to make sure its brands have the best stores in the best locations across the US – not just in New York, which has always had Sex and the City-style fans of European labels.

Ms Willlersdorf adds: “It is not just about East and West coast. The middle and south are very wealthy. European brands are under-represen-ted, particularly in second-tier cities.”

Click the link to view the entire article which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/america-becomes-absolutely-fabulous-9585525.html

March 17, 2014

Wall Street Shares Wealth, for Better or Worse

By: Martha C. White
NBC News
March 15, 2014

The $26.7 billion in bonuses that Wall Street hauled in last year will help fill city and state tax coffers, and certainly boost retailers when bankers sport Patek Phillipe wristwatches and slip into Maseratis. But all that green is a double-edged sword for New York City.

Wall Street bonuses grew by 15 percent in 2013, to an average of $164,530, according to the New York State Comptroller’s office. Milton Pedraza, CEO of research firm the Luxury Institute, estimated that Wall Streeters spend between half and three-quarters of their bonuses, then save or invest the rest, and about half the amount they spend is funneled into the local economy.

Because they spend an incredible amount of money in their jobs, “I think that spills over in their personal life,” said David Friedman, president of research and consulting company Wealth-X.

Click the link to read the entire article: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/wall-street-shares-wealth-better-or-worse-n53071

March 6, 2014

Would You Pay 70 Per Cent More For Chanel?

By: Lauren Milligan
Vogue.com
March 5, 2014

IT’S not just the recession and higher property and living costs that’s making you think it, the price of luxury goods is actually rising. The Wall Street Journal reports that the price of a quilted Chanel bag has on average risen by 70 per cent in the past five years, while Louis Vuitton’s classic Speedy bag is 32 per cent more expensive in America than it was in 2009.

There are several theories behind the increases – which represent a general trend across the luxury goods industry, including watches and jewellery. Some say the prices are intended to help customers differentiate between the high-end brands and their increasingly popular mid-market competitors.

“The more Tory Burches and Michael Kors there are, the more the Chanels and Louis Vuittons will try to price up,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, told the WSJ. Others explained that the price increases, although far outpacing inflation, were unavoidable in order to maintain quality – thanks to rising production costs.

Click the link to read the entire article: http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2014/03/05/price-increases-for-luxury-items—chanel-louis-vuitton-bags

March 3, 2014

Soaring Luxury-Goods Prices Test Wealthy’s Will to Pay

Sales Growth Slows as Competition Heats Up; ‘Prices Have Gotten Really Crazy’

By Suzanne Kapner and Christina Passariello
Wall Street Journal
March 2, 2014

Despite expanding into new markets, the luxury-retail business has been relying on price increases to drive sales. Now, even the very wealthy are nearing the limits of what they are willing to spend.

In the past five years, the price of a Chanel quilted handbag has increased 70% to $4,900. Cartier’s Trinity gold bracelet now sells for $16,300, 48% more than in 2009. And the price of Piaget’s ultrathin Altiplano watch is now $19,000, up $6,000 from 2011.

Click the link to read the entire article which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304585004579415110604829016?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304585004579415110604829016.html

 

February 24, 2014

Oscars red carpet: a runway of sharp elbows and high fashion stakes

By Piya Sinha-Roy
Reuters
February 23, 2014

When Jennifer Lawrence tripped on her way to accept her best actress Oscar last year, her blush pink princess-like Dior Haute Couture gown was captured in all its glory as the unscripted moment made ripples around the world.

That bonus air-time for a single dress at one of the world’s premier global events is priceless for the likes of Dior, one of the strongest fashion houses in the cutthroat marketplace that the Oscars red carpet is today.

Success on the red carpet can buy cachet that no advertising can – both for designers and stars – and profits for luxury brands for years to come. With stakes that high, the more established houses are raising their game and leaving little room for newcomers to make a splash, like they might have a decade ago.

Click the link to read the entire article which includes quotes from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/23/oscars-fashion-idUSL2N0LQ0IY20140223

February 6, 2014

Making His Name His Own

Reed Krakoff Will Show His First Collection Since Leaving Coach

By Ruth La Ferla
New York Times
February 5, 2014

Dana Taylor, a model, stood straight as a maypole as Reed Krakoff circled, paused, then peered intently at his handiwork. Ms. Taylor was wearing Mr. Krakoff’s cobalt-blue sleeveless officer’s coat, a sample from the fall collection he will show on Wednesday, a piece stripped to its essentials: welted seams, slant pockets and a pair of outsize lapels its only embellishment.

Was it too much? Too little? Mr. Krakoff considered before snatching up a swatch of matching blue leather, attaching it briefly to a lapel, then rejecting that notion, slipping it beneath the coat like a T-shirt. He toyed with the neckline, gathering it in his fingers. Then something clicked. “I like the ruched effect,” he said. “And we might finish it with a little black tape on the top.”

Click the link to read the entire article which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/06/fashion/Reed-Krakoff-first-collection-since-leaving-coach-fashion.html?hpw&rref=fashion

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