How are Bergdorfs, Barneys, Neiman Marcus, and the like trying to beat recessionary woes? They are pushing their exclusive merchandise. That is, they are taking that dress you saw on the runway and changing it to make it unique to a particular retailer. These tweaks are often pretty minor, including changes in color, adjusting hemlines, adding a sleeve, or swapping a print for an exclusive one. For instance, a caption under a dress on Neiman Marcus’ website reads: "The only thing better than an Emilio Pucci print is when it's exclusively ours.”
The purpose of this: to bring consumers into the store [or onto their e-commerce site] for merchandise that is only available there, and thus, limited in its disbursement in the market place. Once upon a time luxury fashion was about exclusivity, and it seems that smart brands are going back to this concept, and actually have been for some time.
The Wall Street Journal focused on this trend in recent article, but what the WSJ failed to do was look more deeply into what is really occurring in these high-end stores. This isn’t a new concept. Stores have been doing exclusive capsule collections for years, which is how Neiman Marcus was able to offer the exclusive motorcycle bags in commemoration of Balenciaga’s ten-year anniversary of making the bag in May 2010. It is also how Barneys brought you four exclusive Oscar de la Renta wedding gowns in early 2010.
But what’s the difference now? These stores are seemingly focusing even more; they are not just demanding once or twice a year exclusive collections from specific designers. They want this exclusive merchandise all the time throughout the store. They aren’t satisfied with just the small, one-time capsule collection, and it makes sense. With the recession sticking around longer than anyone had bargained for, these stores don’t need the quick fix, the occasional Jason Wu for Bergdorf capsule collection. They need that and more. In order to provide customers with a reason to shop and shop and shop, they have strive to provide consumers with the consistent promise of limited edition pieces in all apparel niches. Not a bad move.