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Retail - Does luxury fashion still need wholesale showrooms?
20 January 2020

Vogue’s Alden Wicker writes that direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that cut out middlemen have thrived, but upscale labels can still benefit from having a good agent.
 


 

Vogue’s Alden Wicker writes that direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that cut out middlemen have thrived, but upscale labels can still benefit from having a good agent.

Key points in this piece:

The success of DTC brands and decline of wholesale is leading some brands to evaluate if they need a showroom to grow in new markets.

Good showrooms can provide up-and-coming brands with exposure and advice on cultural nuance at a time when cancel culture has tripped up many labels.

Small brands that tend to suffer from late or onerous payment can also benefit from having an advocate on the ground.

When Nicholas and Christopher Kunz launched Nicholas K in 2003, like most upscale brands, the sister-brother duo worked with showrooms to build up their wholesale business. For 11 years, as the label developed through gothic leather-and-silk draped dresses and undyed alpaca wrap sweaters, showrooms sold their product on the East and West coasts and occasionally pitched in on PR. But in 2014, the siblings realised it no longer worked for them.

A typical showroom might stock 15 or 16 different brands, says Christopher Kunz, who co-owns the brand and handles the business side. “They’re just not going to learn enough in that short amount of time to share with the buyer.” For a brand like Nicholas K, which emphasises materials and ethical sourcing on top of aesthetics, it’s not enough for a showroom to simply provide a space where buyers can flip through the racks. It also needs to sell a story to buyers, who are increasingly concerned with sustainability.

The Folklore handles almost everything for its 20 designers, including US pricing, negotiating with retailers, accepting payment and facilitating international shipping.

Click on Driect-to-Consumer Retail to read the rest of this article

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