U.S. luxury department store Barneys New York is exploring options, including bankruptcy.
The nearly 100-year-old retailer is struggling with high rents and changing consumer tastes. Next to the Flagship store at Madison Avenue Barneys has 28 locations across the US, including in Beverly Hills, Chicago and Boston.
It would not be the first retailer that goes extinct. Earlier this year brands like Diesel and Roberto Cavalli closed all stores in America, while Nordstrom and Macy’s are decreasing their number of stores.
But it is not just a problem in the US, in fact it’s a worldwide phenomenon.
UK Retailer, House of Fraser, reported a 54.6 million pound loss and will continue to close stores all over the country. In Switzerland, Manor is struggling and Migros just announced plans to sell its unprofitable luxury retailer Globus by next year.
But what are the main problems of the fashion retailers nowadays?
Of course, high rent is a prevalent issue. For example, Barneys 25’550 square meter flagship store’s rent is currently 16 Million US Dollars and will likely increase to 30 Million in the near future. This is an immense cost for a brick and mortar. Additionally consumers are less loyal than in the past and there is a lot of competition online as well as offline. So in a nutshell it is a tough market to survive in and stay profitable.
We at Meshugge believe there is more to it. The obsolete fashion industry did not do much to adapt to a new generation where individuality and sustainability play big roles. Rather than changing with the trends incrementally, they are now faced with the challenge of making big, fundamental shifts. We see a shift of power away from the few big corporations back to the customer. Below we have listed the top issues and how we aim to provide fresh solutions.
Unique Brand Selection
Why should a customer visit Store A if Store B next door has almost the same selection of brands? In fact, why leave the house when that customer could stay at home and order the same piece online?
It is hard to stand out from the crowd with a standard customer service and an offering of only ordinary mainstream brands. And this counts for budget as well as luxury retailers. They have to think outside the box, choose upcoming brands and support new talents. That will not only make them more appealing to customers but also bring some fresh blood and new ideas into the game.
We are crazy about fashion and finding the brands that match our expectations regarding style, ethics and sustainability. Our onboarding process assures that we keep the quality of brands high and continuously offer a unique selection to our customers. We find brands by attending new fashion fairs and shows, researching past and current collections and with making personal contacts on our travels.
To truly know the brand and the founders is crucial for us. Only then can we collaborate successfully.
With our unique brand portfolio we address all the individualists out there that are looking for a distinguished and unique wardrobe, full of high quality and exciting brands.
Personal shopping experience
Retail is a demand driven market and the customer is king. How do you want to offer personalized shopping experiences when you leave the customer out of the picture?
We think that customer service has to improve a lot to keep up with the consumer and that the skills and responsibilities of a traditional salesperson will likewise need to be refocused.
Stores need to look for new ideas on how to bring possible customers in and set themselves apart from the competition. You can’t call yourself a concept store simply because you have an inhouse cafe and a few books laying around.
In essence, shops have to learn how to interact better with their clientele and deliver them a tailored shopping experience.
For us it is important to know the brands we work with and interact with our customers to understand their desires and needs. Because of that (and because it’s just so much fun) we host seasonal fashion events in Zurich. These events is where our brands showcase their products and fashion enthusiasts can get to know the brand, try on the pieces, and even chat with the designer. While doing that they can order their favourite pieces directly online on our website.
With this concept we not only create an amazing event (oh yes there is an after-party!) but also a tailored and personal shopping experience. We are obviously present as well to talk to our customers, get feedback and find out what they want for future events.
Last, but definitely not least, is Sustainability. The fashion industry leaves a huge carbon footprint on our planet. The few multi-billion dollar companies who remain in power are slow with making the crucial changes in how they do business. We see people voicing their concerns and all over the world regarding transparency, sustainable production and fair labour.
“The fashion industry was built on secrecy and elitism; it was opaque. Transparency is disruptive - in that sense it is a breath of fresh air and a useful weapon of change.” Orsola de Castro, Co Founder and Creative Director of Fashion Revolution.
We believe that a store should be a link from the brands to the customer. Retailers can be a voice, a teacher and storyteller for their brands. It’s in their hands if they are promoting and selling brands that respect our world and the environment or not.
Sustainability plays a big part in our selection process of new brands. There are so many creative minds out there who find new ways to make the fashion industry a better place.
We support brands that produce locally and only on a made to order basis, keeping waste at a minimum. Others feature new high tech fabrics that use less energy and water than traditional ones. One brand even created a community and empowers women by teaching them new skills and make sure they are economically independent.
Together with these changemakers we want our customers to not just look good but also feel good. Join us and let’s redefine luxury together.