V&C Milan Fashion Week Review!
V&C Milan Fashion Week Review! Milan Fashion Week is consistently the stuff that a fashionista’s dreams are made of… known as the Fashion Capital of the World, Milan has all of the edge of its European counterparts along with its trademark classic and sophisticated approach. Following London Fashion Week which celebrates and embodies the multifaceted trends of London life, Milan focuses on a cool and collected method, letting everything come to life on the catwalk and watching the media go wild for it. Here is my recap of some of my favourite shows from this seasons showcase…. Versace Two words: JENNIFER LOPEZ. Did anyone see this coming!? In a world where social media is everything, Versace made the very clever decision to celebrate one of their most high profile long term clients, who serendipitously invented Google Images with her jaw dropping Versace ensemble at the Grammy awards in the year 2000 (now known simply as “the green dress”) with a catwalk strut that will go down in history. The eternally youthful singer and actress closed a stunning show and season with an iconic walk down the catwalk in the reinvented Green Dress, courtesy of Donatella herself and the stylist who created the infamous look for J-Lo, Andrea Lieberman, and showed us that 50 is the new “I’ll close your runway show for you, Donatella.” It wouldn’t be unfair to say that J-Lo stole the show – you don’t invite Jennifer Lopez to your event if you don’t want your spotlight stolen from you - but by no means could she be considered the only highlight. When thinking of iconic designer dresses, Versace is one of the first design houses that spring to mind, with legendary ensembles worn by Naomi Campbell, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Hurley (in THAT dress) and Helena Christensen to name a few, with recent tributes to iconic looks from long term client and fashion icon Kim Kardashian. The iconic digital jungle print of That Green Dress took centre stage this season, taking us back to the 2000’s, reminding us of a pre-recession era where it was all about glitz, bling, and looking expensive as hell, and following the Versace created trend of designers cladding A-Listers in their wears in hopes of mirroring the success of The Green Dress. Relaxed blazers, shirts and dresses not dissimilar to the Versace X H&M collaboration of 2011 showcased the print, delivering a flash of colour along with nostalgia, preceding one of their chicest collections to date with my personal preference of colour palette – black, black and a dash of neutral. With nods again to not only the early noughties but also the 80’s and 90’s, Versace focused on recreations of the classic little black dress with their signature elements of belting and padlocking with the slightest whiff of bondage, variations of sweetheart necklines from soft and sweet to plunging and exaggerated, hyperbolized shoulders and skirts with signature Italian power tailoring and the invention of bicep cleavage. Alongside their trademark eye catching designs were paired down, classic black dresses and tailored blazers, a final reminder that when it comes to fashion, Versace has got everything covered. Moschino Jeremy Scott is the only exception to the cool and collected approach to Milan Fashion Week – in a league of his own, Jeremy showed off his 6 year reign at Moschino with a Picasso inspired, eye popping explosion of colour, creativity and crazy… “Circus, but make it fashion.” As a visionary and creative director, Jeremy is unrivalled in his unique and inspiring approach to fashion, using his love and passion for art as an advantage, and when coupled with his skills as a designer, nothing short of magic is created. Jeremy often cites his muses or inspiration for collections with little explanation, proving that we are being graced with an artistic experience from the soul of a true artist – he lets the designs explain everything for him. With this in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that Jeremy was inspired by Picasso, who was an infamous artist for similar reasons. Jeremy wears the crown of flamboyant innovation nonchalantly, an established trend creator in his own unique right. His colour palettes and approach to symmetry have no rules, and he is one of the few creators from whom we truly never know what to expect next, with each collection so different to the last. This season we were treated to a fitting tribute to an iconic Italian name, with strikingly large and prominent shapes that were audacious rather than flashy, pushing the boundaries of shaping and tailoring in ways that Jeremy does so well, leaving us wishing we had an occasion to which we could wear such a creation. Easy to wear trouser suits also dotted through the collection, nothing short of wearable art, with painted prints that Jeremy is so fond of that would make for the perfect statement piece at any party or event. There were elements of Matador that I particularly favoured that will no doubt transcend into the high street, violin bodysuits that none of us knew that we needed until Jeremy invented them, a form fitting, glitzy unitard clown suit with fluted ruffles – because why not? Seriously, why not? - and a few party dresses for those of us not quite as bold as Jeremy would like us to be. Arguably the statement piece of the show, we also saw a model walking as a framed Picasso painting, with her head set on top of a tastefully nude black and white painting complete with elaborate framing (please say this will be made into a phone case, please!), Jeremy left us all deciding where on earth he could go next while proving what we all already knew but never tire of being reminded- there are no rules when it comes to Moschino, and THAT is how you put on a show. Fendi Silvia Fendi presented her first ever RTW collection as Creative Director, her only solo venture in this role since the passing of her beloved friend and colleague Karl Lagerfeld, whom she dedicated her menswear show to back in June. Of this venture, Silvia said when questioned “He was the captain so my life has changed in that today I decide for myself. Before there was a dialogue. But he was in Paris and I was in Rome. He wasn’t here every day. I had a lot of freedom. Today there’s not the dialogue there was before, so I feel the responsibility very much. At the end of the day the choices are mine.” Silvia is very much on her own path and has her own vision for the brand and is clearly thriving. With her well documented passion for tailoring and keen eye for trend, Silvia has created the most contemporary collection for the brand to date and has shown that she is a powerhouse all on her own. Favouring “real-to-wear” over ‘ready to wear’ as she phrased it, Silvia has incorporated masculine tailoring and boxy skirting into a beautiful mix of understated cool and bold print to cater to a wide customer base, citing warm summer evenings as her inspiration for the collection. Gorgeous textiles mixed with shearling adorned the shoulders of the models in outerwear in the form of light mustard trenches with a utilitarian modern twist, velvety macs in warm brown tones, and the surprising choice of fluffy checked “dressing gown” robe style jackets with tie waists, delivering a variety of choice. We also saw a smidge of Chanel inspiration – perhaps a thinly veiled tribute to Karl? – in quilted buttoned macs with exaggerated collars in neutral, pastel tones (I predict the cropped version to be a trend setter or the high street this autumn/spring!) and very easy to wear shoes. There was a noticeable absence of high heels in keeping with the “real to wear” approach to the collection, with Silvia saying, “they’re made for walking. I think about the practicality of things. I want those women to feel natural, to feel good.” The summer nights inspiration certainly came into view with the print designs, with bright an edgy leaf and floral prints alongside more understated floral prints in gorgeous mustard tones accentuated with periwinkle blue. Silvia inadvertently proved that she has nothing to prove as a creative, showing her genius and innovation without drama or marketing campaigns and injecting the everyday working woman into a trend direction without compromising any of the luxury appeal. Silvia’s passion and vision is exciting to witness, and I for one am thoroughly excited to see where she will take the brand next season. Dolce & Gabbana Jungle fever was everywhere in Milan this season, but nowhere more so than on the Dolce & Gabbana catwalk. With the world united in the devastating fire in the Amazon rainforest and the fashion industry’s growing commitment to sustainability, Dolce & Gabbana have shown strong influence of this in their latest collection in a safari jungle themed selection of fashion delights. Exquisitely tailored playsuits, jumpsuits, boiler suits and trenches were a firm favourite for D&G this season, in muted beige tones that scream “LOOK HOW CHIC WE ARE! LOOK!” in all the right ways, and will no doubt be leading the high street into the jungle fever trend in upcoming months. We all know classic wardrobe staples such as the perfectly tailored playsuit never go out of style, and with their very soft utilitarian approach and strong attention to detail with tailoring and shape, D&G have taken the classic wardrobe staples into a whole new league, and left them open to dialogue and interpretation with their muted tones. The return of the city shorts were also everywhere this year, and D&G made sure they were ahead of the game with stunning shapes and relaxed belted waists, leaving us longing for an opportunity to pop our now sun starved pins into a pair. Known for their perfect balance of classic and risk taking, this collection showcased this in a mix of animal print and hyper florals with some friendly animal faces thrown in. Some hyper florals and leaf prints had an almost oriental feel to them as well as the strong jungle elements, and additions such as black and white accents, stripes, polka dots and mesh, we were treated to an eclectic selection of jungle print with something for everyone, whether you want a smizing giraffe on your chest, pineapples climbing up you or leafy chiffon patterns flowing behind you as you strut. Coincidentally, there was a D&G take on That Green Dress that gave us glimpses of the flesh underneath sheer fabric rather than plunging necklines and thigh slashes, and was my personal favourite piece of the collection with it’s easy to wear tailoring that would flatter any body type. Never to be outdone when it comes to partywear, D&G showcased a fabulous selection of ruching, corsetry, tassels and oodles of glamour as we were treated to stunning revamps of the classic LBD where lingerie as outerwear was one of the key focuses, intricate and bold lace and tassels decorated structured dresses in abundance from mini to midi, and a large dollop of lively animal print in the form of flowing maxis and shift dresses to describe just a few, there were endless ensembles to choose from. The collection showed over 100 looks, each one a statement in its own right – bold trouser suits, leather snake skin skirts (snake skin looks set to be here to stay!), retro style scarf dresses, preppy buttoned jackets with an 80’s feel all expertly styled, I would need an entire blog dedicated to this show alone to truly project the visual glory of this collection. I have a very strong feeling that SS20 on the high street is going to be very heavily D&G influenced, and I’m already planning my summer wardrobe around it!
The evolution of brand awareness and marketing in Retail.
The evolution of brand awareness and marketing in Retail. How times have changed. It was only 5 years ago that we could shop in major towns across the UK and walk into department stores such as Debenhams, House of Fraser, Beales and many more independents, and find brands that no longer exist - to go one step further some the departments stores that we used to shop in no longer exist. Are the days of marketing your branded products via in store concessions with 3rd party partners over? Moreover and strikingly, dare we suggest that the days of marketing and selling your brand with 3rd party websites such as ASOS, FarFetch, Zalando, Net-a -Porter amongst others have lost their appeal? Why fuel their own private label designs with a brands intellectual design ideas? Why give them the Intel on customer shopping behaviour? Is the kudos now about gaining a credible CRM than the having your brand affiliated with these websites perhaps? These are the questions that many of the smaller brands today that we consult with ask themselves, as we all become aware of the power of internet shopping and not fully understanding the backend algorithms that make it happen we have relied on these 3rd part sites with the big market budgets, customer databases and know how to sell our brands, but is this a short term solution? Social media influencing is paving the way forward, with clever brand positioning and targeted campaigns you can just as easily make sure your brand is in front of the right eyes with only one click away from a sale. Facebook and Instagram is much more than a ‘Voyeurs’ journey in what ones friends are up to, where they are and what they eat! They are a means to adapting to a different type of selling. These social media platforms know more about us than we think, but in a positive way so that you the audience, are presented with products that you actually want. If you are a user of these platforms, you will no doubt have purchased from seeing a product first on social media and then buying via direct or a link. These platforms engage with their audience differently, we are a nation with less patience; thanks to Amazon when we see something, we want it now. It’s clear that the offline marketing days of print don’t allow instant buy in contrast to when you are 35,000 miles in the air browsing Facebook and Instagram you can buy instantaneously, better still if you have purchased at the airport and about to board a long haul flight there is a good chance that it will be waiting for you when you get home! Crazy but true. Notwithstanding the above, the clever brand that exploits these platforms gain benefits of building a rapport and loyalty with their customers in a newer more effective way, whilst the brand continues to drive campaigns and content it delivers what we call the ‘halo effect’ with their customers, by implanting brand awareness subconsciously in the customers mind that proves invaluable, more importantly it allows the brand to understand 1. What your customers purchase 2. When they purchase 3. How often they purchase 4. What products are selling 5. The rate of sale Leading back to the all-important function within retail - Merchandising. This vital information allows you to plan your range and OTB, gain better insight into introducing new lines crucial to the growth of a young brand and understand what their customers like as well as manage returns and calculate margin more effectively. V&C Digital Marketing Services have successfully delivered Paid Social and PPC campaigns to our brands, working closely with them on strategy and getting their campaigns exactly right. With over 20 years of analytical and brand experience we can deliver measurable growth via your online presence buy having strong knowledge in the fashion retail sector partnering up with your digital team giving you un-apparelled level of service navigating in this challenging and exciting arena. Additionally we are excited to be hosting our next V&C event/workshop in October together with the Head of Retail from Facebook/Instagram, date and time to be announced... To register your interest in our Facebook/Instagram event or for further information on case study's and how we can help your brand, please feel free to contact us on 02036681466.
The Art of Retail Merchandising
Right product, right place, right time – that’s what we know makes a retail business tick! And it’s the merchandising department that is pivotal to this formula with its remit on optimising the sales for any retail business – so often the function is over shadowed as a profession by its more glamorous sister position - the Buyer, that can take more of the glory of a successful retail business. However it’s the Merchandiser that should equally command this acknowledgement by successfully buying the product at the best margin and keeping the Buyer ‘in check’ and adopting the role of 25% Buyer to their 75% Merchandiser, questioning the amount of buy, options/SKU’s, price, weighing up the sale through rate against a mark down to sale scenario. A simple diagram illustrates this relationship between the functions below:- 75% 25% 75% We are finding in today’s environment the Merchandiser has to be more commercial, understanding the financial implications of the buy on the cash flow and how important it is to trade and optimise the margin to ensure the best return on the buy, the discerning Merchandiser will question the buy. The questions that a retailer should be raising include:- Would you rather sell out of stock and hit full price meeting your margin? What are the implications of not buying enough stock and having a great sale through rate – is it a loss of sale scenario or can flipping the coin mean an overbuy with excess stock for a sale item? Zara maintain the first option, the lack of stock sometimes creates that ‘impulse buy’ - ‘when its gone its gone’ leaving the customer knowing that that the buy could be completely missed, the effect this has is actually two fold, firstly creating a good sale through and secondly returning interest from the customer who will be compelled to buy for FOMO (fear of missing out) reasons. The merchandiser should be the architect of the buy particularly for ‘bricks & mortar’ stores ensuring there are enough of the right options to optimise the allocated space - continuously with new buy options - working closely with Buying and of course allocating. Merchandisers should question the business on buying scenarios such as:- What would be the implications of reducing size ratios and obtaining a better cost price? Would it be better holding griege for RTD garments and being more flexible to market need? The business of merchandising is trading and the more the merchandiser is commercially aware with sound knowledge of the market, their competitors and their customers, this will put them in a winning business position. After all Retail is Detail! If you are looking for new opportunities within Merchandising - get in touch with the team!