Luxury designers and retailers know that when it comes to their product, it’s a pretty hard sell these days.
With the primary, practical needs of both work-from-home staples like loungewear and slippers or athletic- and wellness-focused gear like running shoes and yoga pants, the demand for beautiful high heels, evening dresses and the like is understandably low.
Regardless, designer and high-end brands know that they will need to stay nimble to keep up with wherever retail lands both in the duration of and following the pandemic — especially with the health of brick-and-mortar shops entirely up in air. For some designers, that means branching out to other categories — especially home goods, since that’s where their customers are right now. For others, it’s expanding on or opening e-shops that they never had before.
Here are four designers and brands that are pivoting in their businesses to sell product right now.
After launching a “Bodega” category of home-focused products like fuzzy socks and handmade Mexican coffee mugs, Brother Vellies founder and designer Aurora James found that the small batches were selling out immediately. Enter “Something Special,” BV’s own subscription service. Members can sign up for $35 per month to receive a delivery of ethically-sourced home- and wellness-focused items like a handmade vase or a locally-poured candle. James is still selling footwear and handbags on the site (without any discounts), including her new spring ’20 collection.
Designer Joseph Altuzarra has kept his name in the news thanks to his judging role on Amazon’s “Making the Cut,” which has a show-dedicate shop on Amazon right now. But for his own brand, the Paris-based designer has just opened a shop on Etsy, where he’s selling handmade home items that he designed with local partners. Pieces include textured dog beds, woven beverage coasters, and tie-dyed pillows and notebooks, the last of which was made using deadstock materials from the designer’s past collections.
After watching some of her clients and friends struggle to find their footing amidst the pandemic, PR maven Elizabeth Tuke partnered with colleague Courtney Owens to launch Tuke Bazaar, an e-shop dedicated to promoting the small designer and speciality brands that are in their network (they include clients, friends, brands they love or all of the above). “It’s a low risk, low resource way for brands to partner with both PR and a retail point of distribution,” said Tuke, who also runs Tuke Consulting. In addition to providing exposure, the Bazaar will help each brand develop its promotional assets, engage influencers/tastemakers, and position them for increased buzz, customer acquisition, and sales. Tuke launched April 23 with women’s apparel and accessories but plan to expand into jewelry and shoes shortly.
Poolside’s Holly mini raffia bag, available on Tuke Bazaar
Over the years, the luxury consignment shop has been a Los Angeles landmark and meeting spot for some of the city’s chicest and most fashion-versed. But with its physical space closed, founder Cameron Silver and his team have doubled down on adding more inventory to the online offerings. Silver, one of fashion’s preeminent historians — and also now the fashion director of Halston Style — has been busy hosting discussions with friends like designer Isaac Mizrahi, fashion writer Amy Fine Collins actress Jennifer Tilly. He’s also offering free closet reorganization sessions on FaceTime and Zoom.