“Handbag makers are busy battling waning demand and markdowns at stores, and that may have diverted their attention from what could make them successful in the long run: creativity,” according to Bloomberg. Affected by fears of being saddled with too much unsold merchandise, Michael Kors, Prada, LVMH’s Louis Vuitton, and Burberry, all reduced the number of handbag styles introduced last quarter, notably during the holiday shopping season.
While such a move will certainly limit the number of items subject to markdowns, the tactic “will also make it tough to recapture the excitement of shoppers,” says Milton Pedraza, a New York-based luxury consultant. “What you’re seeing is a tremendous amount of copying, less innovation and less creativity, at a time when exactly what you need is to be bold,” he further noted
Bloomberg asserts that in the final three months of 2016, the number of new styles introduced by Michael Kors dropped 24 percent from the preceding quarter. Prada and Louis Vuitton rolled out 35 percent fewer new designs, while the number at Burberry – which said in a statement that it was “simplifying” its offerings and tailoring innovation for “local needs” – dropped 8 percent.
A few brands, including Kate Spade & Co. and Ralph Lauren, did introduce more new designs in the fourth quarter, but “many tried to ride out the holidays without breaking fresh ground.”
This is a particularly risky move for Prada, which has places its turn-around hopes largely on the introduction of new, more accruable handbag styles. The Italian design house - which has experienced fiscal quarter after fiscal quarter of disappointing sales growth - announced in April that it is banking on a revamp of its social/advertising strategy and also of its offerings.
“We are working deeply to really fill all the price ranges,” Strategic Marketing Director Stefano Cantino said of Prada’s plans to introduce more bags costing between 1,200 euros ($1,370) and 1,400 euros. “There is strong demand for newness.”
Prada plans to double its e-commerce sales over the next two years by increasing the number of categories it offers online, particularly shoes, and expanding its social media activities, Cantino said. The brand does not, however, plan to sell clothing over the Internet, preferring instead to direct consumers to the company’s good old-fashion brick-and-mortar stores.