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EDITIONS NY: Luxury in 2018 – The influence of Millennials

Global sales of sneakers rose to 10% to $3.5 billion last year. Outperforming a 7% rise in handbags according to consultancy Bain & Co. It’s no surprise that the luxe sneaker is here to stay, now occupying an entire category of its own.

Global sales of sneakers rose to 10% to $3.5 billion last year. Outperforming a 7% rise in handbags according to consultancy Bain & Co. It’s no surprise that the luxe sneaker is here to stay, now occupying an entire category of its own.

High fashion houses such as Gucci and Balenciaga are challenging the status quo and narrative around what constitutes ‘luxury’ by being a part of the sneaker conversation.

Today, fashion is moving away from sophisticated glamour towards a more androgynous cool. Inspiring designers at luxury brands to follow the streetwear movement. With this in mind, we were keen to understand a little more about the current state of the luxury market in 2018. How is it shifting at the hands of millennial and gen z consumers, and where it’s heading next.

And so, this Fall we returned to New York City to host EDITIONS NY, our transatlantic speaker series. We asked luxury’s brightest movers and shakers to join us for a night of candid industry chat.  

Jemma Cassidy, Chief Merchandising Officer at Diane von Furstenberg, Maria Salazar Levin, Vice President at Valentino and Bianca Kuttickattu, Design Director at Vince, joined our expert panel at Brooklyn’s Wythe Hotel, with Jenna Blaha, Fashion and Technology Editor at ELLE magazine leading discussions.

Here are some of our favorite takeaways from the night.

Our panel on staying true to your brand’s identity:
Jemma Cassidy, Chief Merchandising Officer at Diane von Furstenberg: 
“Brands need to stop looking at what everyone else is doing. It’s really important to stand true to your brand heritage and not chase trends. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to anyone”.
Maria Salazar Levin, Vice President at Valentino: 
“Different brands connect to consumers in different ways, but if you completely change your DNA to match what the trends are, you’re going to lose what your brand is. Be true to yourself as a brand and ignore the noise. When we think about fashion and the runway shows, I have started thinking most about client relationship.”
Bianca Kuttickattu, Design Director at Vince: 
“I wish that brands would focus their own identities and not be kidnapped by creative directors who are just concerned with their own social media following and their own image and salary,” “Products become practically obsolete before they hit your wardrobe and no longer have longevity”. “When a brand’s direction completely changes, you don’t feel aligned with that brand anymore and products don’t really feel relevant to who you are.”

Jemma on the changing consumer:
“The runway needs to be more democratic. There’s something so disconnected about a lot of wealthy people sitting around looking at very expensive clothes and then writing about it. It’s this big performance for this tiny little percentage of people that doesn’t really do anything for your bottom line – but costs you money.”
“Generation Z, millennials, drops, diversity, size inclusivity – they’re just words until you actually implement them into your business. A lot of people just drop them in, do one little Instagram shoot with a size 14 model and then we’re all back to square one again.”

Maria and Jemma on embracing streetwear:
Maria:“The world has become more casual. We’re not going to go back to bow ties and hats all the time. People now dress however they feel like dressing. A double-breasted jacket with sneakers is common now. Fashion has become more personal.”
Jemma: “Streetwear is not going anywhere soon, it will just be absorbed into the norm and then something else will come along.”

Bianca on designing product for millennials:
“The millennial consumer has grown up wearing sneakers whereas the Gen x  consumer grew up wearing leather shoes. So the millennial consumer expects any kind of shoe she wears to fit like a glove and be really comfortable immediately. They expect a sneaker to perform like any other shoe so they needs to be able to wear it to work and to all different occasions, just like any other shoe. There’s no concept of wearing a shoe in, no one really knows what that means anymore – millennial’s will return their shoes and leave a bad review over breaking them in.”

Jemma on the challenges marketing product to millennials:
“Domestic production is more sustainable, fairer wages and better for the environment but millennials don’t want to pay the price tag. I would love to get the led time down by domestic production.”
“Instagram is a double edged sword. It’s amazing but I think for brands it’s difficult in that everything available instantly and then by tomorrow it’s boring because there’s a whole new set of stories and a whole new set of product, that’s a challenge.”

Thank you to all our brilliant speakers and to everyone who came out, asked questions and had a drink with us after.

If you fancy being at the next EDITIONS, sign up to our Insider Briefing list and we’ll keep you posted on future EDITED events.

Until next time!