The Guest Blog

Widlitz: Fashion’s Night Out From NY to London

Stacey Widlitz |Retail Consultant and Independent Analyst
Getty Images

It is not just New York’s big shopping night out. London is buzzing today in anticipation of late night shopping combined with champagne, give-aways and celebrity sightings.

Tonight’s Third Annual Fashion’s Night Outis an international event and is the brain child of Vogue, launched in order to breathe some life into designer sales post the 2008 recession.

It is no coincidence the event coincides with Fashion Week in NYC followed by London.

Designers and celebrities alike show up at their Flagship/Department Stores and pull out all the stops. This year’s highlights include NYC; The Missoni for Target pop-up store (go early as the debut of much anticipated official launch products on Sep 13 should sell out quickly), Stella McCartney will be packed as celebrity DJ’s, recognizable faces and open bar will drive crowds. At Bergdorf Goodman you may run into Michael Kors or Oscar De La Renta and don’t miss the designer dog show. And if designer clothes not in your budget this year and you don’t want to tempt yourself? No worries as Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret will have just as much excitement as the high-end with models, celebrities and make-overs.

Highlights in London include; Selfridge’s (think Saks, Bergdorf) is doing its best to get the sluggish London consumer excited about the new season’s offerings. The store is celebrating with catwalk shows, makeovers, an in-store carnival and don’t forget the Krispy Kreme exclusive Fashion Week Doughnut. Harvey Nichol’s should have a similar carnival like feel and if you did not have time for a manicure and blow-out today you are in luck. If you are in London, the Bond Street area is where the action will be. Hermes will teach you how to tie those scarves and inspire you to invest in an updated look. And if not, you can take part in the “bangle bowling alley”. Diane Von Furstenberg is running a competition with a £500 reward wardrobe. Or just attend for the Hakkasan nibbles. Win a coveted Alexander McQueen tote or walk Jimmy Choo’s red carpet.

Perhaps one of the most coveted invitations tonight is the Coach Bond Store party where Gwyneth Paltrow, Coach’s face for autumn/spring, will be hosting with Alexandra Shulman of British Vogue. The event will celebrate Coach’s brand 6,900 sq ft new store at 41 Bond Street. The boutique will feature the 41 Collection which celebrates the label’s birthday in 1941. This is the second store in the UK.

COH has followed Tiffany setting its sights firmly on becoming a global brand with the entry into Europe and the UK. While Coach pulled out of the British market in the 90’s it is hard to dispute the company’s makeover since that time (think square leather bags versus the Coach product assortment of today). In addition, the company went it alone the last time around. This time Coach will enlist local partners (Hackett in UK, Ireland, Spain and Portugal and in France an exclusive arrangement with Printemps). Certainly not a bad time to be casting a wider net with the company’s current dependence on the US and Japan.

With the “R” word rearing its ugly head again the high-end is still posting incredibly strong numbers and sales in full price continue to rebound. Recent news from Nordstrom , Saks , Tiffany, Hermes and Richemont all point to continued momentum but no one is stepping into H2 without a dose of caution in their optimism. Let’s face it, with the continued volatility in the markets, rising input costs and a stressed consumer any event that creates excitement and drives consumers into the stores is a welcome one.

Disclosure: Widlitz owns Richemont and Tiffany

is the President of SW Retail Advisors Inc. She has worked at UBS, SG Cowen, Fulcrum Partners and in 2005 was one of three analysts to launch the Research Department at Pali Capital, where she covered Retail and Home Video for 5 years.