At the behest of Vogue USA editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, retailers from 13 countries participated in Fashion's Night Out last Thursday. Since I don't go out at night and I do my shopping during the day and sometimes online, I don't really know how things went.
BUT I can still give an opinion on what I THINK happened.
The problem with this well-intended shopping stimulus plan is that it comes at a time when people STILL either a) do not have money or b) even if they do, refuse to fork out for anything that is not an investment (and I am not talking about the fashion investment 'that you can wear forever").
Personally, I hate shopping events because everyone sees what you are buying and you have to get out of the dressing room quickly because there usually is a line. (Well, maybe not these days)
Central in HK did a property wide shopping event before the summer and I don't really know how much the shops made during those few hours but I was told there was more champagne quaffing by office people and the 'wrong people' walking away with freebies.
PEOPLE just TOLD me, okay???
Last Thursday, my hairdresser said his business is down 30% and this is in Hong Kong where unemployment is considerably lower than the rest of the world and where the stock and property markets have bounced back. He said, "The markets are good but I know people still want to save their money and spend it on something with long term value and that's not exactly a haircut." (Even HE KNOWS!)
The following, from the Financial Times of 9 Septemmber 2009, sticks the stilleto heel into a crack on the pavement:
"...Bruno Frisoni, the creative director of shoe brand Roger Vivier, who will be at the Milan event, said: “This will bring people into our store that maybe wouldn’t have come in. But certainly in Paris it will not mean immediate cash. They come, have a drink, meet people, see the collection and maybe, if we’re lucky, they come back during the week. Maybe.”
Another international luxury brand executive, who asked to remain anonymous, noted that the company did not expect to recoup its costs in terms of overtime, electricity, security and food.
“It is a big expense for us” to keep flagships in multiple cities open for an extra five hours, he noted, pointing out that they agreed to participate only because Ms Wintour asked."
Business is certainly bad but I have yet to meet someone in the fashion business who would talk on the record about how bad it is.
Word on the street (like Pedder Street, perhaps?) is that On Pedder, a shoe and accessories regional boutique chain owned by Lane Crawford is ahem...."consolidating, relocating, merging, absorbing staff and inventory..." with the mother company.
I can think one other simple word that begins with a C.
GAAK! Choke! Surprise! But then, when you think about it (and you don't have to think longer than the length of a fashion show), the signs were there even to Wal-Mart shoppers.
1) high prices - cheaper online or in Europe or the US - I walked in there last week and there were hardly any heels there under 6000 HKD (750 USD) and hardly anything I wanted to buy
2) ugly stuff - well, you can't blame retailers if the design houses are producing atrocious stuff made available worldwide
3) recession and/or a now financially conservative customer
4) the Lane Crawford Beijing store which should really be in a mausoleum (oh..uh..museum) than in a mall