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Carolina Herrera: “The good news is everybody’s coming back to their senses, and everybody’s trying to make collections that sell to a normal woman. It’s more realistic; it’s not only for editorial. Everybody has to be more creative in a more realistic way, and make clothes that make women look beautiful. That’s the good news.”
Roger Farah, president and chief operating officer, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.: “Everybody is so quick to talk about everything that’s bad. What’s my good news? Parts of the world that are performing and where we continue to see very strong selling. We opened a store in Dubai a couple of weeks ago, and that has been very strong and exceeded our expectations. We’re about to open one in Seoul, Korea, in a couple weeks that we’re also very excited about. So we continue to invest in the expansion of our brand, and where we’ve done that right, the customer has responded.”
Stefano Gabbana: “First of all, we feel hypercreative, reactive, excited and stimulated. Strangely enough, given the times, we feel good and feel the urge to experiment. I think this crisis has bought back many core values, and fashion has achieved a more human and traditional aspect, which we appreciate. Many superfluous elements have been wiped away and it’s OK if people buy less because they have too much of everything. It’s useless to have too much of everything. It’s like sitting down to a five-course meal when a plate of pasta will do just fine. This reevaluation to me is good news.”
Robert Polet, president and ceo, Gucci Group: “The very good news of these past days is the fact that our main brand, Gucci, proved resilient in difficult times. In a market that is declining, Gucci increased its turnover in the first quarter by 1 percent in constant currency and by a whopping 10.6 percent in current [currency].”
Tom Murry, president and ceo, Calvin Klein Inc.: “In difficult economic environments there tends to be flight to safe havens or quality, so the fact that Calvin Klein is such a strong brand globally [means] we are picking up market share. Everywhere I look in the U.S. in the department store sector, we’re growing market share in our white label business.
“Freestanding stores — they’re great branding platforms. We will add approximately 100 freestanding stores outside the U.S. this year. That doesn’t include concessions. Joe Gromek [president and ceo of Warnaco Group Inc.] has publicly stated that they will add over 100,000 square feet of retail space in 2009. Our collection business, which we brought back in house in early part of last year, is beginning to get traction. We’re beginning to get back into stores like Saks, where we’re performing well both in men’s and women’s. The quality is great. The deliveries are on time. And, of course, the design by Francisco [Costa] and Italo [Zucchelli] continues to be very good. Business is not easy. But the strength of our brand and the execution of our in-house businesses, as well as our license businesses, have given us the opportunity to grow market share.”
Stefano Sassi, ceo, Valentino Fashion Group: “We’re in a situation in which 90 percent is bad, and 10 percent is good. There are a few signals in stores where some customers are reacting with a positive approach. March was the worst month retailwise. But April, especially in the second half, we are seeing some increase and recovery. This goes together with the financial markets getting a little better. Worldwide, customers in Japan, Europe and some of the eastern countries are coming back. The United States market is doing well, so that’s something positive.
“In the European newspapers, the bad news is more balanced with editorials [suggesting] the worst has passed. I’m convinced there are still a lot of rich people. There are two components in this luxury crisis. One is related to the real economy and to the unemployment rate, but there’s always a psychological factor. People feel [guilty] if they buy a bag or something new. As soon as we have more signals, even editorials in the newspaper, [that say] the worst [is over], I’m pretty sure this situation will recover. But it’s a bit too early to say that we’re facing a turnaround.”