LONDON, United Kingdom — It's been a busy week in the business of fashion. The biggest news was the Hudson's Bay Company's $2.9 billion acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue, a move that lays the groundwork for a Saks rollout in Canada, a market which, until now, has been virtually the sole domain of stalwart department store Holt Renfrew. With the planned arrival of American department store Nordstrom, and now Saks, the Canadian luxury retail landscape appears to be heating up with some long overdue competition and innovation.
Mega-deals aside, this week on BoF, it was all about the power of the senses. A few weeks ago, I found myself browsing clothes at my local Kooples store and noticed a little black box, with a little hole, in the corner of the shop. Intrigued, I asked the sales associate what it was and he explained that this little machine was pumping the Kooples' signature scent into the store. Then, a few days later, walking by Abercrombie & Fitch, I could smell the store's signature scent way outside on the street. It got me to to thinking. What do brands get out of this olfactory stimulation at retail? The result is Rebecca May Johnson's excellent briefing on the rise of 'olfactive branding.' It's a fascinating read, with some very interesting insights.
Also on the sensory front was a story on some of the fashion world's top florists, whose artistry with petals is increasingly being tapped by leading designers to help communicate their creative vision and captivate audiences.
Still more sensory delights came with the news of Henry Holland's innovative new 'roving' retail concept. Mr Holland plans to sell a special capsule collection from an ice cream van at targeted locations around London, in part to test the potential for a standalone House of Holland retail store. It's a clever and fun idea, borrowed from the food truck trend that has been gathering steam on both sides of the Atlantic.
In our latest instalment of Founder Stories, we also heard from Blake Mycoskie of Toms — a philanthropic retailer best known for its simple cloth slippers and “One for One” giving model — on social entrepreneurship and how the company has become his "business soulmate." His story is inspiring and a must read for any would-be entrepreneur.
Over in Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Vietnam may be getting all the attention from brands looking for new growth opportunities. But Robb Young argues that it's time to take another look at the Philippines, a country that has long been overshadowed by its larger neighbours and underestimated by international fashion brands. As it turns out, economic growth in the Philippines in now outpacing that of China.
And, this Week in Review would not be complete without a nod to Mr Colin McDowell, who wrote a long overdue piece on the value of the fourth estate in fashion. As usual, Colin raises important points and eloquently (and directly) articulates why free fashion criticism is more important than ever before.
Have a great weekend.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Olfactive Branding: Retail’s Fragrant Frontier (Intelligence)
Long Overlooked, the Flourishing Philippines (Global Currents)