Looking to the Future
Now the four week circus of shows is over, many trends have started to circulate and many thoughts and ideas have been thrown around.
Here is one trend which especially applies to fragrance and fashion in today’s problematic economy.
The rise of the small, the rise of the individual, the rise of the limited edition, the rise of products with integrity, the rise of local, the rise of the special and the rise of craft.
When it comes to spending our money, if it’s a basic product we want, we can buy that on line. If we want luxury we want something that will be worth the investment. We want great products which have been thought about, as well as proper expert customer service which will fulfil or exceed our expectations. We want the effort of leaving our homes to be rewarded, and our new expectations are for a special in store experience. In other words, something in return for our money and something which isn’t the same as everything else. So, a Chanel boutique may be special but do the staff know their product inside and out, and can John Lewis convince a new customer they’ve got something original to say?
Fragrance is changing too. Byredo held events during Paris Fashion Week, Karla Otto PR, who I work closely with, had invited me to both. First there was a new boutique opening on rue Saint Honore for a shop stocking the fragrances and additional lines. So popular was the launch party that I had to return to really get an idea of the space, and how great it was. The location is so carefully selected, I am sure, near a huge Balenciaga shop, Place Vendome and Louis Vuitton, also near Moynat, Goyard and Guerlain, and many others, that foot traffic and the appropriate clientele is pretty much guaranteed. A couple of nights later I was invited to another Byredo event showcasing an incredible insight into the creativity of Ben Gorman- the founder of Byredo.
“A conceptual installation in the Marais which is bringing the story of the newest fragrance Eleventh Hour to life, the story of the end of the world as we know it. The all wood interior “log cabin” installation will convey a spirit of nature, exploration and adventure; themes to which BYREDO founder, Ben Gorman viscerally connects. Ben is a major outdoor enthusiast.
Within the cabin will be found the first look at BYREDO camping gear, a result of multiple collaborations including Vargo, manufacturer of high-performance camping equipment (i.e., stoves, pots, tents), Stanley, manufacturer of thermos bottles, coolers, and cookware and Leatherman, creator of the multi-functional tools favoured by outdoor enthusiasts worldwide. Camping just got very chic!
Ben has also been working on a key food component with renown chef Jean Imbert, presenting an elevated, gourmet approach to freeze dry food reflecting the end of the world camping experience. The first taste of this menu will be at the cocktail tomorrow night.”
So, I rushed across Paris to visit the log cabin. It was terrific- the fragrance has a great narrative. Yet what was stunning was the context and contents of the shop, where the pieces of camping equipment were ALL classic tip top quality 100% practical and even for me fascinating and desirable. The complete message was clear, from a simple rope to the fragrance, it was also very clear that there was real passion and focus behind the whole concept, it wasn’t just a sales or marketing ploy.
A concept like this makes a fragrance or a collection, or indeed anything, exciting, special and draws us towards it, it has a story and the products surrounding it have integrity because they’re real. It also has an air of exclusivity as it’s not being rolled out across the globe to every stockist of Byredo. Selfridges in particular have this idea of one offs, short term pop up’s and collaborations with all kinds of creatives.
“Blue sky thinking” and “Thinking outside the box” were once popular expressions meaning to be adventurous and imaginative in your business proposals and actions. The expressions may have become tired and outmoded, but the theory remains. Look at where your product sells, who is buying them, talk to them about it, talk to those who sell the product on the shop floor, and watch, listen and learn.
My trend is simply to think, be clever and focus, look around you, and look closely. Answers are often simpler and less complex than you think, answers are often under our nose. Business successes can be driven by a good idea, well executed and with passion. Big isn’t always better.
Words and pictures by Tony Glenville