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CCO, La Perla
Fashion’s Response to Covid-19, Edition 2
Continuing with our series of interviews with industry leaders, Mode sat down with Philip Tabbah, CCO at La Perla to discuss his thoughts on fashion’s response to Covid-19 and the shift in the luxury landscape. Having previously spent over 8 years at Richemont and 6 years at LVMH Group, Philip brings a wealth of luxury experience to La Perla. He is now responsible for all channels across the EMEA, US and Ecommerce for the lingerie brand.
Following the global pandemic we are faced with a contraction in global revenues not seen since World War II, massively affecting every sector from hospitality to media and entertainment. The fashion retail sector has been hit considerably hard due to widespread international store closures, reliant on online channels only during this time. Fashion is currently focused on crisis management and contingency planning, but eventually it could be that we are moving towards a re-imagining of our industry altogether. That being said, we felt this edition of Mode meets should look to the future and what positive changes could be made to ensure the industry is more resilient. How we speed up sustainability and we should we re-set the fashion cycle are popular questions for our industry right now.
HOW HAS THE RECENT PANDEMIC AFFECTED SENIOR LEADERSHIP AND HOW IMPORTANT IS STRONG LEADERSHIP IN A TIME OF CRISIS?
Extremely important. A leader must be visible to their teams. Visible doesn’t mean face to face, it’s about adapting that visibility and remote managing. In some cases I have got to know my teams better as some of them have family at home. I feel it’s important for people not to have to feel they need to hide their situation and for me as a leader to be flexible around this. It’s important to have business meetings but also to have catch ups that are more informal, as this is where you are able to pick up signals on how people are really feeling. In times of changes its important to have the ability to look at how employees role can be adapted and evolved.
What key learns do you think businesses have had from this period?
I feel most businesses have realised they can accelerate change quicker than initially thought. A road map for the next 2/3 years can be adapted and reprioritised. Showrooms can work virtually and partners can visit anytime - it is far more cost effective and reduces their carbon footprint. Many organisations now understand what it means to be truly omnichannel during this period.
How do you see retailers evolving?
Firstly, we need to understand the new retail landscape. Again, acceleration into omnichannel and providing a truly integrated store experience. Within the luxury space I think we will see a lot more ‘By Appointment‘ store visits and less street traffic. The retail industry will need to rethink their retail space and store design. Brands won’t necessarily need to be in high traffic areas. Rent will decrease on these properties with shorter leases being negotiated. Stores will be more community focused and tailor their offering and store design accordingly. You can still have a common thread/DNA that runs through each store but the offering can be adapted to the local consumer. This will really challenge brands to rethink their offer to the consumer and the client experience. Why not have a ‘permanent pop-up’ store that is ever evolving and changes completely every 3 months. The store remains in the same location but the concept changes. Stores are equally a communication channel and distribution channel.
What are your thoughts on recent calls for fashion to reset the collections cycle?
I embrace this change. It is so important on how we drop and deliver continuously. Give consumers a reason to revisit a store or online more frequently. Customers won’t be required to wait for few months for a new product. Brands are then able to drop products every month if they wish, resulting in less carry over. It’s an opportunity for some brands to balance pure newness and existing lines.
It has been said that there is a clear disconnect from when product arrives in-store to when the customer actually needs it. How can brands work to change this?
Brands need to address this issue. A buy now, wear now approach. For some product categories there is a lot of demand for the product to be available all year round. It isn’t right for the season to always dictate as it depends where in the world you live or where you are travelling to.
How can we entice consumers back into store as the boutiques begin to re-open? And encourage consumer spend through all channels?
Many stores will need to reinvent their approach, creating intrigue and theatre. A service proposition that will entice people back into store, offering value added services like personalisation and alterations that can be done in real time..We will see rapid development of hybrid selling such as door-to-door services, curbside pickups or ‘white glove’ service where you order online and can chose to get the delivery same day, from your local store by a sales associate. Virtual styling cessions and live streaming selling is the new normal. It is like the Peloton bike concept, you cycle at home following a live class online.
Is real sustainability on the cards for many luxury brands?
Yes, definitely. Many luxury brands are using turning to more sustainable materials, such as recycled fabrics, this is rapidly becoming the new norm. I feel consumers is also changing to a ‘less is more’ mindset, and will also look to invest in fewer but key pieces that they can re-wear season after season that are built and designed to last, and that are made by artisan professionals where there is a transparency in the supply chain. This is good news for the luxury industry where durability and craftsmanship is a part of the ethos.
Do you think there will be a shift in consumer habits following the pandemic?
It’s clear there has been a greater reliance online with more sustainable choices. Previously some brands have just seen online as another store and now there is an acceleration to leverage the physical store and create bridges for omnichannel. We are entering a new era on how consumers shop and interact with brands.
I feel very optimistic about the future of luxury retail. Once people feel secure in their environment and in their employment they will begin to socialise, spend and begin to travel. It his human nature. People are naturally social creatures and there is a desire to socialise.
MODE SEARCH LTD 2020 No. 10889892