Copenhagen International Fashion Fair — one of Europe’s longest running and most established tradeshows — returned to its physical home at the Bella Center in the Danish capital this week, welcoming more than 500 brands across its exhibition space over three days of extensive programming.
Today, CIFF acts as an international fashion hub, connecting a global community of buyers to brands that span categories and price points. It also seeks to educate and inform its global community on key market trends.
In a talk hosted by BoF’s Robin Mellery-Pratt and Alice Gividen, “A New Era for Wholesale?” — the most significant market trends impacting the wholesale community were identified. New power dynamics have emerged, with luxury players largely moving to exclusively vertical retail and business models. While Gucci has reduced its reliance on wholesale, generating 85 percent of sales from its own channels, 90 percent of Prada’s sales are now direct, with an unconventional drop-ship model deal with Net-a-Porter signalling a major change in the way multi-brand retailers may operate in the future.
Despite these shifts, emerging models and strategies are recasting the retailer’s role in connecting customers to product. Accelerator-style models such as the likes of Luca Benini’s Slam Jam and the showroom Tomorrow signal an era of deeper, more established partnerships between brand and retailer. Meanwhile, the application of disruptive new technologies, powered by 5G, are rolling out new efficiencies, from 360-degree imaging, product conceptualisation and AR-powered showrooms.
Later, BoF’s Robin Mellery-Pratt moderated a discussion between Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s, Voo Store CEO Yasin Müjdeci and Han Kjøbenhavn commercial director Christian Jensen, investigating how pivots made in the pandemic have created new avenues for growth and new opportunities for efficiency for multi-brand retailers and the brands they stock. Below, BoF shares the key takeaways.
Increase Agility to Create a Responsive Product Mix
— Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s
“The key strategy was, how can we work with all of our partners as quickly as possible to change what the product mix was in the store, to make sure that we’re really addressing the needs of the customer so that we could get them the things they were looking for, and the things that would make their lives better every day. We realised that there was an opportunity with customers who were shopping for luxury price points and luxury goods as there was much more disposable income available to them in this period. There was a pivot into things that spoke to luxury whether that was a handbag or a shoe, something that was luxurious for wellness like skincare, or something around making their home better.
I think flexibility is probably the most important strategy we will take forward. Coming from a fairly large company that has a lot of stores, there was a lot of structure built into the way we did business and the way we interacted with each other. I think if we’ve learned anything over the course of the past year and a half, it is this ability to be able to turn more quickly, and to expect that we do have the flexibility to make sure that what our customers are looking for, we are able to provide them with. That’s not just an internal conversation, that’s a conversation with partners to be able to react quickly.
We’re opening a smaller format store at the end of the summer — Bloomies, in Virginia — which really takes on the lens of curation and is more of an interesting environment. Our business has shifted as the US has reopened. It has allowed us to streamline and focus on the curation of the product we’re bringing in, from smaller brands to more luxury brands — becoming a space of discovery for our customer. The curation piece is really important.”
Brand Identity is Critical in a Homogenised E-Commerce Landscape
— Yasin Müjdeci, CEO of Voo Store
“Before Coronavirus, we did not really like online stores because they had no soul. Physically, we can feel fabrics, talk to people and feel the atmosphere. So, when we needed to close because of the pandemic, we asked ourselves how we could do this with our online store. How can we weave in this feeling? And the brands are really important in this case. We have a lot of variety in our selection of brands. Some brands you can find everywhere, but many brands you cannot. It makes it more fun, and it brings out real emotions. We continued to try and find small or emerging designers for the store throughout the pandemic, and we tried to push them online. Okay, we didn’t make so much money with this, but, in the end, it was our hope for our customers to come away from our online store having seen and felt something new.
Sometimes we forget that this industry is a particularly creative business. Fashion is really human, and we want to retain this sense of fashion as art. We want to be Voo Store. We are independent. We are now 11 years old and we will buy what we like. We want to maintain our heritage. We saw everything changing because of the pandemic, so felt we needed to do our old job well. We will buy what we like, and that won’t change. We need to meet the right designers, the right minds. This is our strategy.
Engage Consumers Through an Authentic Online Community Strategy
— Christian Jensen, commercial director of Han Kjøbenhavn
Having most people on the ground gave us some time to have really important conversations and realign on what’s important to us as a business and we want to achieve. What’s the purpose of Han Kjøbenhavn? As a brand, we want to create a safe space where people feel like they belong. We want to give back to our community and collaborate with them, be that sound for a runway show, profiling user-generated content or collaborating on a t-shirt or print project.
Our community is very important for us. We don’t want to be too aggressive in terms of pushing product. That’s why our comms centres around giving our community a voice. As retailers we’re story tellers, we articulate creative vision via physical and online presence. That is the future for retail. Everything is two clicks away now, there are hundreds of different retailers within luxury that offer the same product, to an extent. So how can we showcase it differently to resonate with different audiences?
There are artists within our community who are now friends of the house, interacting with us. The best example is an artist, Isaac, who produces music. He is a very particular character with tattoos all over his face. We created a 3D scan to use as a face filter […] fun and engaging. We want to indirectly create brand awareness without us trying to push t-shirts. We don’t want to take advantage of our customers – ten colours of sweatpants. That’s not who we are as a brand. That’s too easy a solution to make money, but we have to stay true to the brand and connect with our community to make amazing projects.
This is a sponsored feature paid for by CIFF as part of a BoF partnership.