When it comes to in-store tech, the industry often points to the Rebecca Minkoff brand as a success. Its smart mirror technology and emphasis on bringing the online shopping experience to its five retail stores is widely touted as proof that it is possible for fashion to be tech-forward.
The tech brains behind the operation is CEO Uri Minkoff, brother to designer Rebecca, who last year also launched his own eponymous ready-to-wear men’s collection. Minkoff, who is the rare executive who actually embodies his own customer — young and digitally savvy — joined this week’s podcast.
Highlights are below.
Men no longer feel like they have to fit into a box.
When Minkoff launched his collection, he said the idea of it was that the modern man himself as a consumer had changed — and that’s part of a bigger relationship shift that has made fashion less of a dictator, more of a democratizer.
“It used to be that you are a man, so you must like red, fast cards, video games, women who look a certain way,” said Minkoff. “But fast fashion, plus the casualization and street-styling of luxury, means you can be who you are.”
The change in the customer has meant a shift in how the brand operates.
Because there is “so much noise,” Minkoff said brands are turning to a focused era. That explains why Victoria’s Secret is shedding lines like swimwear to focus on intimates, for example. Trying to be all things to all people is too hard. “The narrower your focus gets, the more opportunity you have,” he said.
Fashion would do well to follow tech.
In January, the brand announced that it would stop running on what it called an “outdated industry calendar” and at Fashion Week, showed a Spring 2016 collection that people could buy immediately, instead of waiting for months. It was one of the first brands to make the change — a cascade effect that has led to similar shifts at Burberry, Gucci and Tommy Hilfiger.
It all started when Minkoff was trying to figure out how to sell wallets to consumers who don’t really look at the small leather good the same way any more. “Apple typically has their big event in early September and launch products a couple weeks later,” he said. So the brand released wallets that new phones would fit in. That was the a-ha moment, he said: “Maybe we’re on to something.”
It’s all about a mindset change.
Asked why it takes fashion so long to make what may seem like small, obvious changes, Minkoff said it comes to mindset and willingness — which may explain why brands like Dolce & Gabbana refuse to change how they show. And the key is to not do things too quickly: Minkoff still showed to buyers and the media on the traditional calendar, but not the customers so as not to too change anything or surprise anyone too much. “The layers of management that have protectionism and an insular base don’t realize what’s happening out there. We’re now at the reckoning.”