Week in Review | Warby Parker Opens Offline, Uniqlo’s Evolutionary Approach, Want Les Essentiels de la Vie

BoF editor-in-chief Imran Amed recaps the week in the business of fashion.

Warby Parker Flagship, Soho, New York | Source: Warby Parker

MUMBAI, India — It’s not fashion week in India, but you’d never know it from the number of events, dinners and presentations keeping Mumbaikars busy here in the country’s buzziest city. More on that next week.

Back home in London, our team has been hard at work, delivering fashion business intelligence from across the fashion planet.

In New York, we did some retail recon on the new Warby Parker flagship, which for the first time brings the digital brand into a bricks-and-mortar space, equipped with some fancy technology to track footfall and interaction. It’s all very ‘bricks-and-clicks’ and a striking example of how a virtual brand can come to life in the physical world.

From Montréal, we heard from Byron and Dexter Peart, founders of Want Les Essentiels de la Vie, an accessories brand that has rocketed onto the collective radar of style influencers, retailers and editors around the world. But as we learned, it wasn’t an easy ride. The twin Canadian brothers shared a few of the lessons from their journey and described how a chance encounter with J Crew’s Mickey Drexler proved to be a critical turning point for their business.

Over in Paris, we attended the Uniqlo Lifewear presentation and learned that the Japanese retailing behemoth looks more towards technology companies like Apple for inspiration and business benchmarks than the ‘fast fashion’ companies with which it is often compared. Indeed, it’s through steady, iterative innovation that Uniqlo has carved out a unique space in the hearts and minds of consumers, who are loyal to its cashmere, heat-tech and ultra-light down products.

In other Paris news, Schiaparelli announced that Christian Lacroix, the famous French couturier whose own business was put into administration a few years ago, will design it’s first couture collection. The announcement was well-received and seemed to have been a direct response to the rumours that Marco Zannini would assume the role of creative director.

LVMH shares plunged on news that the growth of its fashion and leather goods division slowed, but the conglomerate also announced an investment, via L Capital Asia, in R.M. Williams, an Australian leather bootmaker. The group also exited its investment in SMCP, owner of affordable luxury brands Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, selling its stake to KKR, the buyout firm.

And finally, we continued our campaign to win your votes for the Webby Awards, with stories about e-commerce dynamo Sophia Amoruso and legendary footwear designer Christian Louboutin. If you are enjoying our content, please take 2 minutes to vote for us!

Imran Amed, Editor-in-Chief

Links:

Retail Recon | Inside Warby Parker’s First Offline Flagship (Intelligence)

Turning Point | How Want Les Essentiels de la Vie Found Their Footing (People)

With an Evolutionary Approach, Uniqlo Aims to Create New Category (Intelligence)

Lacroix to Design Couture Collection for Schiaparelli (News & Analysis)

LVMH Falls in Paris as Fashion Sales Advance Slowest Since 2009 (News & Analysis)

LVMH-Backed Fund Takes Stake in R.M. Williams (News & Analysis)

KKR Acquires Majority Stake in SMCP (News & Analysis)