Coming off a strong July and August, most retailers surveyed said business cooled in early September, but is beginning to heat up again. Demand for black, a staple last year, has waned, eclipsed by such colors as brown, khaki or white.
Retailers’ main message, though, was that only the most exciting and uncommon pieces now incite customers to spend.
"Customers are spending money on unusual designs," said Josef Voelk, managing director of Quartier 206, a department store in Berlin. "They are looking for things that are special. There’s no demand for basics."
The prognosis is similar in Italy. Giovina Moretti, owner of Milan’s high-end Gio Moretti boutiques on Via Spiga and Via Turati, said that her clients gravitated to "special items, not basic or classic looks, perhaps because their wardrobes are already full [of basics]."
Armand Adida, owner of L’Eclaireur boutiques in Paris, went a step further in explaining fall’s major sellers in his four shops. "I think it’s the globalization effect of luxury," he explained. "You can go into any high-end shop around the world and get the same thing. Shoppers are very advanced now. They travel and know what is in shops around the world. If you can’t give them something exciting, they won’t open their pocketbooks."
To wit, Adida said he has discontinued such brands as Helmut Lang and Prada, which he stocked for years, to focus his buy on brands with smaller distribution. "I want to concentrate on names like Lutz, Carpe Diem or Martin Margiela. So far, the clients have been responding positively. Business has been good."
At Colette, Paris’ hip fashion and design emporium, owner Sarah Lerfel said denim has been her most important retail story for fall. "There are a lot of new and interesting washes in denim," she said. "Women like to have a great-fitting pair of jeans to combine with more sophisticated pieces. It’s a cooler look." Lerfel cited jeans from Joie and Marc Jacobs as bestsellers.