Welcome to the Glossy 50, our first annual list featuring men and women contributing to the transformation of fashion, luxury, beauty and technology.
The industries are being turned on their heads. The heat is on to ship faster, lower prices and be first to market with trends. Those driving these modern strategies are the people we’re recognizing. They’re insiders from 10 categories we cover daily — including platforms, wearables, startups and streetwear — who captured our attention in the past year.
In this feature, we dive into their contributions to their industries’ new directions. Below are the honorees in the Evolution of Luxury category. See honorees in other categories here.
Esprit. Google. The Lipstick Lobby. A list of Opening Ceremony’s recent collaborators is a snapshot of fashion’s latest priorities — nostalgia, tech and politics. Since 2002, founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have infused the brand with all things current, viewing fashion through a wider cultural lens. Recently, the company doubled down on its off-kilter approach with an immigration-themed spring 2017 ballet presentation.
What does luxury mean to you today?
Luxury has been redefined. It’s the idea of seeing something and actually being able to get it. A $25 T-shirt can have the same covetable value of a $3,000 handbag.
What makes a new project or collaboration a good fit for OC?
It has to be authentic and an organic extension of our brand. At OC, we are storytellers, so each collaboration and collection has to have an in-depth story that ties into our narrative and keeps things interesting.
What do the presentations you’ve put on for OC each season offer that traditional shows do not?
The way information is shared has drastically changed, and it prompts everyone to rethink how things are being done. We like to push boundaries and redefine them and, from our first OC show, we’ve focused on making sure that the experience was visceral.
Why should fashion be political?
It would be silly to ignore politics in this inexplicable time period. Everyone around you is having their rights challenged left and right, so if you have a voice, you should use it.
Dana Randall didn’t bounce from luxury brand to luxury brand before landing at Coach as its head of innovation in 2015. She was intimately familiar with the brand as Coach’s account manager during her time at luxury agency Isobar. In-house at Coach, Randall approaches the challenge of solving “innovation” from the perspective of her varied background in digital marketing, creative strategy and development.
Innovation can mean a lot of different things. How do you interpret it?
Innovation is a word I’m a little scared of right now. It’s being thrown around a lot. To me, it’s experiential. It’s believing in what’s possible. It doesn’t have to be technology. Sometimes the best innovation is taking something that’s been applied to one industry and applying it to another one in a different way.
You didn’t have previous experience in-house at a fashion brand before Coach. Is that an advantage?
Having a diverse background is important because you have to have that mindset when you’re tackling innovation head-on. To me, innovation is creative problem-solving, and you need to be open-minded as to what the [solution] is going to be. It could involve creative, or digital, or technology or a combination of the three. If you only think about it in terms of technology, you end up going down a dangerous place.
Still, is there any particular technology you’re especially excited about right now?
If you look at luxury, fashion and retail, these industries are historically slower to adopt tech. What’s most important to me is culture. If you fall into the trap of a technology-first mindset, you’re left with things that come off as gimmicky. If it starts with the internal culture, you’re empowering people to be open-minded and to try new things that move the needle forward.
In 2015, LVMH raised a few eyebrows with its appointment of Ian Rogers — a music executive heading up iTunes Radio at the time — to chief digital officer. Likewise, Rogers made a surprising move in uprooting his L.A. life in favor of a Paris-based apartment and a job at a buttoned-up fashion brand.
“It’s really fun to just be a music fan again, to wake up and breathe music, but not have to wake up and breathe the music industry,” says Rogers, of his career transition. What’s fueling him today, he says, is the “wave that’s hitting retail,” as well as the long-term opportunities in diverse developments like cryptocurrency and augmented reality. Now in their early stages, he compares the two to the internet in 1994, promising, “They’re going to be part of our lives 20 years from now.”
“I was always a student of the way the internet is changing, and changing culture,” says Rogers. “Looking at these 70-plus brands at LVMH is a pretty great vantage point to watch that from because the disruption that is happening in retail right now is full-on.”
In June, Rogers unveiled his first big project in his new role: 24 Sèvres, the e-commerce counterpart to LVMH’s department store, Le Bon Marché, and the French luxury goods conglomerate’s first foray into multi-brand e-commerce. “It went smoother than we thought,” he says.
It’s a project Rogers has worked on since day one at the company, driven by the notions that “Parisian fashion needs a seat at the table” and “the internet has changed since Net-a-Porter’s launch [in 2000].”
According to Rogers, the one thing that hasn’t changed on the retail front is the value customers place on quality and creative products.
With 24 Sèvres, the quality no doubt exists, with iconic luxury brands including Gucci, Fendi and Givenchy making up the inventory.
And Rogers’ emphasis on creativity has made the retailer a standout. Everything from order packaging — Paris street signs inspired the design of 24 Sèvres’ boxes, which are personalized with customers’ initials and feature pop-up Eiffel Towers — to the online imagery has a wow factor, especially for anyone accustomed to shopping on Amazon.
For the imagery, Rogers turned to those designing window displays for LVMH brands, giving them a canvas on which to work by building “an online version of visual merchandising.”
“It was, ‘Can we push the storytelling here?’” he says of bringing merchandisers’ work online. The result: A striking homepage and colorful category pages, consistently driven by artists’ visions rather than promotions.
For a multi-brand retailer to be successful, “inspiring” merchandising is key, Rogers says — as are top-notch service and selection. He compares the retail format to media: “You have to present people with what they should know right now: the new brands, the new products. If they can rely on you for that, they’ll keep coming back.”
Most of 24 Sèvres’ customers are based in France, the U.K. and the U.S., respectively, but Rogers promises those markets are just the tip of the iceberg. “You’ll see and hear a lot more from us on an international basis in the months and years ahead.”
And, he notes, 24 Sèvres — “a small percentage” of his responsibilities — is just one of the many LVMH brands making strides.
“Every week, there’s a launch of some sort of idea,” he says. “A lot of what we’re working on is behind the scenes — not just making sure the [LVMH] group is not behind the competition, but making sure it’s leading the entire industry. We’re preparing for tomorrow.”
Adam Pritzker is on a mission to create the next LVMH. No easy feat, to be sure, but Pritzker has already made waves with experimental shopping concepts like The Apartment by The Line, a luxury loft in New York City that sells everything from home goods to ornate dresses, by appointment. His ultimate vision is to launch several luxury companies all housed under Assembled Brands. In addition to The Line, Pritzker has also created home goods brand Tenfold, the ready-to-wear collection Protagonist and womenswear line Khaite. Always looking to the future, Pritzker is considering menswear and children’s lines. Given that he already created the hugely successful technology and design training program General Assembly (which boasts more than 35,000 graduates), Pritzker is well on his way to becoming a major force in the retail world.
Melissa Lowenkron proves it’s possible to breathe new life into a century-old department store. As head of men’s merchandising, Lowenkron is transforming how Bergdorf Goodman not only selects its classic luxury looks, but continues to serve as a launchpad for emerging designers. The store has traditionally served as an introductory channel for several major brands, including Tom Ford and Moncler. Now, as the menswear market continues to grow, Lowenkron plays a significant role in setting modern trends and pushing the boundaries of luxury. She was, after all, the brains behind bringing Kith, which is now one of the most popular streetwear brands in the nation, into Bergdorf Goodman. Since joining the team in 2014, she’s proven she has a keen eye for style, with a focus on identifying emerging U.S. designers and drumming up buzz for little-known brands.