While the Internet, social networks and mobile commerce seemed to dominate much of the session topics and discussions, some of the most thought-provoking sound bites—or bytes—on the digital revolution emerged from two presentations: “100 Years of Fashion Past and a Look Ahead to 2012,” presented by David Wolfe, creative director for The Doneger Group, the trend forecasting firm, and a panel discussion by Financo, the investment banking boutique.
Here’s some sample quotables.
- “Instant access to fashion on the Internet has been this decade’s clarion call,” Wolfe said.
- Social networks like Facebook and YouTube have democratized fashion like never before, Wolfe said, citing sites such as Polyvore, which bills itself as a global community of independent trendsetters.
The trend has “allowed everyone to become a fashion stylist,” he said. And in an added twist, these citizen stylists, if you will, “are now being approached by retailers and suppliers to design products.”
- Amazon has become the Wal-Mart of the online retail space: a “behemoth” offering commodity products at a bargain, said Rue La La chief executive officer Ben Fischman. “Amazon is convenience. It’s for diapers and toilet paper…versus real merchandising,” he said. “They’re not a merchandising company. They’ve got massive warehouses, but there is no theater there.”
- In the 1990s, sportswear giants Nike and Adidas would spend “hundreds of millions of dollars on endorsements,” said Chip Wilson, founder, chairman and chief innovation and branding officer for Lululemon, the yoga specialty chain.
Lululemon is a very different kind of sportswear firm now spreading its wings in a very different era.
For the company, whose mission is to elevate the world from a place of mediocrity to greatness, according to Wilson, advertising “has to be organic,” as it aims to build a community.
Hence, “Facebook and Google are critical to what we do,” he said.
Amid all the talk of online retailing and mobile commerce being the future of retail, Michael Gould, chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s, sounded this note: “We’ll triple our online business in three years,” Gould said. Even then, “The 59th street [flagship store] will still be a bigger business.”