Behind the Scenes of Home Shopping

The home shopping world is undergoing a makeover.

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Grossman considers July 2007 as the official relaunch of HSN as a lifestyle network, with updated graphics, images and presentations. More important, she said, was new product, from well-known fashion brands and personalities including Sephora, Scoop NYC, Patricia Field and Tina Knowles. Editorial partnerships with magazines such as Elle and Lucky have underscored HSN’s commitment to making a name for itself in the fashion market.

The company’s footwear offering has been elevated, too, and now includes well-known labels such as Beverly Feldman, Vince Camuto and Sam Edelman, as well as proprietary brands such as Hot in Hollywood from stylist Laurie Feltheimer, and Curations from former Scoop NYC owner Stefani Greenfield.

“Accessories is one of our fastest-growing categories, and footwear is trending up,” said Grossman.

This October, HSN will launch a footwear line with designer Carlos Falchi, who already sells takedowns of his thousand-dollar handbags on HSN via the lower-priced Chi collection. The footwear line, also called Chi, will have 12 styles to start, including a snakeskin caged-heel sandal and flat, suede scrunchy boots, retailing from $69 to $200.

“Shoes can be a very strong portion of my business [with HSN],” Falchi said. “She’s already a collector of the bags, and she wants more product.”

Although he’s designed footwear in the past, Falchi has been out of that business for years. He plans to launch footwear in his upscale line for fall ’10, but said that with its large — and loyal — audience, HSN seemed like the best place to reenter the footwear market. In addition to shoes, HSN has asked Falchi to design Chi outerwear, scarves and jewelry, which will be presented during a one-hour Carlos Falchi lifestyle show on the network.

Lauren Pestronk, HSN’s fashion director, said that Chi’s expansion is an example of the network’s designer brand strategy. “Each collection or designer should be a lifestyle,” she said. “A lot of the brands we meet will say, ‘We could never go into that category in a department store because they have separate sections.’ At HSN, their products can all live together. We’ll have the world of Carlos Falchi. There’s already a strong consumer base, so it makes sense to expand into other categories.”

Having a person on hand to sell the product helps, too. Falchi — or someone from his company — is always present on air to help educate the consumer about the product. That strategy is not unique to Falchi, though. On most HSN and QVC programs with fashion merchandise, the brand’s representative is the person who conveys the history and design specifics, which enables the buyer to feel more intimately acquainted with the product than if the seller was a stranger.

That feeling of personal connection is vital, especially in a venue where the audience is so broad. “We are not niche,” acknowledged Grossman, recognizing that being inclusive with both product and presentation style is the key to maximizing sales on a TV network.

Price, on the other hand, has been less prohibitive for HSN. As long as there is value present, there is no limit to how much customers will pay for shoes, said Grossman, citing pairs that near a $500 price tag.

Gene Berkowitz, president of sales at Camuto Group, which sells its Vince Camuto brand on HSN, believes the network is able to push the envelope with price because of its reputation for targeting a “sophisticated, contemporary audience,” while QVC skews more “broad-based.” Berkowitz recently appeared on HSN to promote a $100-plus Vince Camuto shoe and sold 98 percent of the stock in just 45 minutes. “This is a regular-price, legitimate fashion business,” he said.

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