Do people value top end craftsmen-ship or will they buy anything with a logo on it?
We all know that markups in luxury fashion can be ridiculously high. The journey from the factory to floor, gets items to be priced at higher than they cost.
Now E-commerce site Italic is betting that removing the branding and the mark-up will prove a hit with consumers. A big bet indeed!
The start-up’s members-only marketplace, which launched last Thursday, allows manufacturers that create products for luxury brands to sell directly to consumers without the LOGOs adding markups. Shoppers who pay a $120 annual membership fee can choose from a selection of unbranded luxury goods, from bags and wallets to prescription eyewear and leather jackets, produced by the same factories that count names like Prada, Givenchy, Celine and Burberry among their clients.
The company has raised $13 million in funding, from various top end investors. Over 100,000 people joined a waiting list to be notified when membership opens, with signups initially limited to the US, said company founder Jeremy Cai.
Upon launching, the platform will have nearly 60 styles live on the site, with a view to double this number by the end of the year. However, customers won’t find unbranded versions of the Gucci Dionysus bag or any of the latest Celine creations. All products sold on Italic will be unique and exclusive to the platform to avoid infringing on brands’ intellectual property / copyrighted designs.
The start-up joins a growing number of brands, including Everlane and Warby Parker, which provide a premium-feeling, minimally branded product at relatively affordable prices. Within the luxury sector, high-end retailers, including Mr Porter, Joseph and MatchesFashion, are expanding their private label collections, which tend to be priced below standard luxury fare.
Italic goes one step further, selling items that lack even the private label branding. The marketplace will instead focus on providing the infrastructure — from marketing, design and warehousing to customer support — to enable manufacturers to sell products directly. The company will take a commission on sales.
“We essentially do everything that brands do and more, but we do it for the manufacturers,” Cai said.
For example, Italic’s merchandising team will work with factories that have product and pattern libraries to tweak existing designs so they don’t mimic products already on the market. Italic also has two designers, alumni of Armani and Calvin Klein, to work with manufacturers that don’t have in-house creative teams.
“We are very careful about every single product that we sell being originally designed, you won’t find an exact product like it in the market,” Cai said. “We want breadth and coverage of a lot of different styles.”
Branding can be a powerful tool, especially in a sector like luxury, where purchases are emotional rather than practical. That’s especially true for “statement” products, like handbags.
“People buy branded products to be reassured of the quality and style of the item and also for their projected image: they somehow communicate to other people the style, sophistication and preferences of their owner,” said Mario Ortelli, managing partner of luxury advisors Ortelli & Co. “You want to feel and show that you are part of the brand story.”
But Cai doesn’t anticipate the manufacturers on Italic’s marketplace competing head to head with luxury brands.
“For a person who is going to buy a Gucci bag, we are never going to win them over with unbranded product,” he said. “That doesn’t mean in some avenue of their life, they wouldn’t be open to switching up their sheets or maybe a shirt, or a leather jacket, where they actually don’t like a logo on there.”
As well as geographical expansion and international shipping, the platform’s short term goals include expanding into product categories like activewear and beauty. The focus will remain on luxury, Cai said.
“The reason we want to start in luxury is because we can say to the customer: we can make premium product effectively and replace a lot of your aspirational shopping,” he said.
Nike is partnering with Matthew Williams, the founder of luxury streetwear brand Alyx, in a conscious move to make its performance category more fashionable. Matthew's work takes cues from the current youth culture and is recognised for his more practical approach to fashion, will launch his 18-piece fashion collaboration with Nike in mid July, which includes outerwear, monochrome leggings and a wide range of accessories such as logo-ed socks, face masks and towels.
Matthew's partnership with Nike, which has men’s, women’s and unisex collections, will be within Nike’s Training category, making this one of its first major collaborations with a fashion designer within the division. He founded Alyx in 2015 and has been working on the collaboration with Nike for the past year and a half.
He has a young fan base, and his brand's roots in merging street culture with practical garment construction, fits well with Nike’s Training division. But the collection also symbolises a wider strategic shift in the sport firm’s ambition to join its performance and lifestyle divisions, as it responds to the buying behaviours of young consumers, who often see less of a distinction between the two categories.
Nike still remains the world’s leading sportswear player in terms of revenue, but its performance-driven approach to apparel and footwear has lost some degree of “cool” in the eyes of young consumers, who often favour aesthetic and lifestyle features over performance and still make up a majority of the company’s clientele. Nike’s designer collaborations, including those with Kim Jones, Olivier Rousteing and Riccardo Tisci, also made a smaller cultural impact than those launched by Adidas.
( Photos Credit: Nick Knight )
Representative from Macy's said last week that there are plans in place to close 125 of its stores over the next couple of years and cut minimum 2,000 corporate jobs as a cost-savings effort.
The company said it would close stores in lower-tier malls, and explore new avenues, as it looks to tackle plummeting mall traffic.
The chain, which has been struggling to boost store traffic as consumers opt for online shopping in the United States, has closed more than 100 stores since 2015 and cut thousands of jobs.
"We will focus our resources on the healthy parts of our business, directly address the unhealthy parts of the business and explore new revenue streams," Chief Executive Jeff Gennette said.
The to-be-closed 125 stores currently account for about $1.4 billion in annual sales, the company said.
It also said it expects annual gross cost savings of $1.5 billion by 2022, with $600 million expected in 2020.
It forecast full-year net sales to be between $23.6 billion and $23.9 billion, below analysts' average estimate of $24.36 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Michael Kors ( Capri Holding ) is in the process of buying Italian fashion house Versace for a value of approximately $2.12 billion, including debt, the company announced on Tuesday. That's 2.5 times the brand's current revenue. The primarily cash deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019.
In a presentation released to investors, Capri Holdings, outlined its plans for Versace, including increasing its global retail footprint from 200 stores to 300, building out e-commerce and expanding men's and women's accessories and footwear.
Under the new organisation, John D Idol will remain chairman and chief executive of Capri Holdings and also chief executive of the Michael Kors brand. Versace chief executive Jonathan Akeroyd will continue on, as will creative director Donatella Versace.
“This is a very exciting moment for Versace,” she said in a statement, adding that her brother Santo and daughter Allegra's stake in Capri "demonstrates our belief in the long-term success of Versace and commitment to this new global fashion luxury group."
“I am proud that Versace remains very strong in both fashion and modern culture. Versace is not only synonymous with its iconic and unmistakable style, but with being inclusive and embracing of diversity, as well as empowering people to express themselves," she said. "Santo, Allegra and I recognise that this next step will allow Versace to reach its full potential."
This will position the accessible the conglomerate, which acquired high-end shoemaker Jimmy Choo in July 2017 for $1.2 billion, to take a bigger slice of the high-end luxury market.
Versace is a world-famous name part of popular culture, but has been struggling to grow its business of similar scale for years. With the brand running losses from the late 1990s to 2011, the family sold a 20 percent stake to Blackstone in 2014 — a deal that valued the fashion house at $1.4 billion.
The series of shots, that are inspired by Kim & Kanye's tabloid images, have a real and wild feel at times. The campaign's fresh and raw approach has helped its trending online.