What for you were the big stories of 2021?
What I would tell you, what I’ve really seen, on and offline, but particularly in store, was that athleisure, home, and health and wellness did not slow down in 2021. Beach Tunic — Navy Blue In May, June, and through the summer into the holidays, we were seeing sexy heels, a great dress, something glitz and glam, something which was extreme fashion, something with the joy of color—and lipstick is back! Fine jewelry performed really well for us: we launched 10 to 15 new jewelry brands and they all took off.
As for the look that dominated this year….expressive would be one word. Joy is another. That’s what comes to mind. And it comes with…I would call it an awareness of what’s happening in the world. It’s the appeal of Chloé or Stella McCartney; the importance of sustainability. It’s also the importance of inclusivity: Fashion which lets you be who you are and express who you are; self-expression, self-realization. Mini Backless Dress — Gold Some of the younger designers—Studio 189, LaQuan Smith—really have that global sense of how people want to represent who they are and what they believe in.
Which labels and brands did well for you?
McQueen, Dior, Balenciaga, Moncler were all super hot. Accessories were really strong in the luxury space, clothes maybe a little softer, at first, but [accessories from] Saint Laurent, Gucci and Christian Louboutin have been really strong for us; Louboutin did a good job of moving into sneakers.
Our Birkenstock business has been through the roof. So too Mach & Mach, which is done by two sisters from Georgia, really came up, from day one; it instantly took off. We have the shoes and are launching their clothes in the spring. Someone like LaQuan[Smith] took off. Having the digital space to tell a designer’s story can be really influential really quickly.
Sacai and Marine Serre have been really great for us. So too have labels with a dressed up but still casual feel, like Khaite. Sequins did well; the idea of things to have fun in. From contemporary, Naked Wardrobe—a bit of a skin reveal! Ulla Johnson. It’s really all about extremes, a broad range, but whatever it was that connected it expressed that sense of feeling great again.
What I’ve also seen is a shift to greater inclusivity in sizing, for both clothing and shoes. So many brands have embraced that, from ASOS to Louboutin. There’s an incredible desire to be inclusive, from denim to shoes in bigger sizes and widths, to boots which can fit a variety of calf sizes.
Were there any surprises?
I’ve not been so much surprised as taken by the breadth of expression we’ve seen: Wearing what makes you feel good, which has been affirmed by the amount of color. I’ve seen such a lot of fuchsia, turquoise, and emerald green, those bright jewel tones. It was fun to see them coming through in the puffers. Casual Floral Dress — Blue Flower And I guess a little surprised by how quickly people have gone back to suiting, not just the jacket, but everything you’d wear with it.
What didn’t connect so much?
Some of the brands which catered to a more polished, suited, matchy-matchy look. That has been slower to come back. Also, brands who tried to serve a younger audience but without staying true to their DNA.
How did the pandemic affect or change the retail experience?
I think customers have really enjoyed coming back, and they’re very purposeful in asking for help in finding a new look or a new outfit. We’ve been offering what we call 360 degree experiences: A deli concept, a Swedish village with Falljraven, special personal shopping around Simone Rocha. A ton of activations and experiences. Those have been really successful. And live-streaming events with brands and our stylists, where they can also be in store. The blending of online and offline has been very important.