During the holiday quarter, revenue trends improved at both the Michael Kors and Coach brands, while Kate Spade reported industry-leading comparable sales growth. Meanwhile, Pandora jewelry, the brand known for its sterling silver charm bracelets, outlined plans to boost its branded store count by 250 this year.
All four of these labels cater to shoppers who crave luxury on a budget, and are in various stages of tweaking their brand propositions. These tweaks have helped spur interest among shoppers of more moderate means, and are isolated from deteriorating trends at the high-end, said Hana Ben-Shabat, a partner in the retail practice of A.T. Kearney.
True luxury brands have been swimming against factors that include capitulating stock markets and a slowing global economy.
"The core luxury consumer is not trading down yet," Ben-Shabat said. "They are still buying [luxury goods], or if they're refraining from buying, they're refraining 100 percent."
At Coach, the quarter ended on Dec. 26 represented the company's first quarterly sales improvement in more than two years. Though much of that accomplishment was related to its acquisition of the Stuart Weitzman footwear label in May, it nonetheless represented the third straight quarter of domestic same-store sales improvement for the company.
Coach has undertaken several initiatives to restore its reputation as a fashionable brand, after losing much of its cachet to aggressive storewide discounting and a heavy penetration of outlet locations. Under the direction of a new designer and CEO, however, the brand has begun to recapture some of its "cool."
Part of Coach's recent success has stemmed from its new designs, which shy away from splashing logos all over its products. Meanwhile, the brand has been renovating its stores to give them a more modern feel. Comparable sales at these revamped locations have been outperforming the overall fleet.
"They're starting to get their product right," Ben-Shabat said.