A new market for counterfeit goods has arisen over the past year. As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to affect individuals across the globe, counterfeit handbags, electronics, and footwear have been supplemented with fake COVID tests, hand sanitizers, 3M masks, medications and corresponding product packaging, and designer face coverings, as indicted by the shipment of $1.3 million worth of face masks adorned with counterfeit Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, and Fendi logos that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Indianapolis intercepted from China in May, and a number of lawsuits filed by luxury brands. In the latest development of the COVID-specific counterfeit boom, vendors on marketplace sites, such as Amazon, are being busted for offering up fake vaccination cards that mirror the ones issues by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to a report from NPR on Tuesday, a vendor on Amazon was found to be selling packs of blank CDC COVID-19 vaccination cards this week – with a 10-pack of blank cards being offered up for $12.99. “Other vendors selling fake vaccine cards have cropped up on Etsy, an e-commerce site focusing on handmade and vintage items, as well as on pro-Trump forums and the dark web,” the publication revealed, noting that such efforts are “all part of a [larger] black market for fake vaccination cards that has grown in the waning days of the pandemic in the U.S. and other parts of the world.” 

The news of the illicit e-commerce offerings come just weeks after a San Joaquin County, California bar owner was charged with identity theft, forging government documents, and falsifying medical records for allegedly selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards for $20 each in what was said to be “the first foiled operation of its kind” in the U.S. 

As we reported in July 2020, while global supply chains were subjected to significant disruptions as a result of the global health pandemic, the $1 trillion-plus global counterfeit trade carried on, as did the large-volume counterfeit seizures that global Customs agencies have come to expect. U.S. Customs, alone, confiscated a whopping $1.3 billion worth of counterfeit goods in 2020. In addition to seizing an “astonishing” amount of counterfeit PPE, test kits, and COVID-related medications throughout the year, the market for infringing luxury goods was all-but-halted by the onset and enduring impact of the pandemic, driven, at least in part, by the tremendous growth in global e-commerce and sweeping marketplace platforms, many of which have been infiltrated by counterfeit-sellers. 

Meanwhile, in a report of its own, Chinese Customs officials revealed that Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier, and Gucci were among some of the most frequently-cited names on the list of seized counterfeit products in 2020, but they noted that there was another striking name on that list: Pfizer. In its April 27, 2021 “Typical Cases of Intellectual Property Enforcement by Chinese Customs” report, the China National Intellectual Property Administration revealed that over the course of 2020, the General Administration of Customs blocked the import or export of no shortage of infringing and/or counterfeit goods, and highlighted drug packaging bearing the “Pfizer” logo destined for Iraq. 

Victoria’s Secret is on the receiving end of one of the latest retail real estate lawsuits to come in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the lawsuit that it filed in a New York federal court late last month, Westfield’s New WTC Retail Owner LLC (“Westfield”) claims that the lingerie brand is on the hook for allegedly breaching its contractual obligations and improperly terminating its lease for its store in the Westfield World Trade Center Shopping Center in New York. “Following temporary tenant closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Westfield claims that “Victoria’s Secret purported to invoke an early lease-termination right,” and has since refused to pay rent, while also “abandoning its leased premises,” despite having “years remaining” on its lease. 

According to Westfield’s complaint, Victoria’s Secret signed on to a 12-year lease for a store in the downtown New York shopping center in February 2015, thereby, requiring the L Brands-owned brand to pay rent and abide by the terms of the agreement until it expires on January 31, 2029. One of the exceptions to the normal course of business that would “allow Victoria’s Secret to pay alternate, reduced rent” and/or to terminate its lease? If the co-tenancy requirements set out in the lease – namely, that tenants that are “occupying at least 75 percent of the gross leasable floor area … are open for business and operating continuously during [business] hours” – “are not satisfied for twelve consecutive months.” 

That contract provision is precisely the one that Victoria’s Secret pointed to on January 4, 2021, when it informed Westfield that “it was electing to terminate the lease as of January 1, 2021 because the co-tenancy requirements were purportedly not met for a period of 12 consecutive months.” To back up its claim, Westfield alleges that when it produced evidence “that there was no failure to meet the co-tenancy requirements for 12 consecutive months,” Victoria’s Secret responded by “maintain[ing] that, based on nothing more than ‘physical observ[ations] on multiple occasions by [Victoria’s Secret] personnel,’ the co-tenancy requirements were not met,” and that it was legally entitled to terminate its lease. 

All the while, Westfield claims that Victoria’s Secret had stopped paying rent, prompting it to send the company a Notice of Default in the amount of $4,318,277.87 on March 11, 2021. “Victoria’s Secret failed to cure its default within the cure period,” Westfield contends, and on or about April 30, 2021, it “ceased operations and abandoned the premises … years before the expiration of the [lease] term,” further violating the parties’ “valid and enforceable” lease agreement. 

With the foregoing in mind, Westfield set forth breach of contract and breach of lease claims against Victoria’s Secret, and is seeking damages of upwards of $32 million to account for the company’s past-due rent, as well as the rent that would have been due over the remaining 8 years of the lease.  

Victoria’s Secret’s Turnaround

The lawsuit comes months after Columbus, Ohio-based L Brands reached a $525 million deal to sell off a 55 percent stake in Victoria’s Secret to Sycamore Partners in February 2020. The transaction, which valued VS at $1.1 billion, subsequently fell through (and led to a number of lawsuits) on the heels of Sycamore actively trying to bring an end to the deal, citing an array of COVID-related “breaches” of the acquisition agreement by L Brands. Since then, L Brands revealed that it is planning to spin off the VS brand this summer as opposed to trying to find a new buyer. “The company said that it received interest from multiple potential buyers, but its board concluded that separating Victoria’s Secret” from its fellow L Brands-owned company Bath & Body Works “into two separate publicly traded companies would be a better option,” CNBC reported in May, citing analysts at Citi and JPMorgan who has “recently valued Victoria’s Secret at about $5 billion as a stand-alone business.”  

The plot to split Victoria’s Secret from Bath & Body Works follows from years of turmoil for the former lingerie leader. Met with younger competitors, whose messaging and offerings were more compelling for many women – particularly millennials – than Victoria’s Secret’s hyper-sexualized and often male-driven ethos, the 44-year-old company lost market share over the past decade. Coresight Research put Victoria’s Secret’s hold on the segment at 24 percent in 2018, down from 31.7 percent in 2013, noting that an “emphasis on body positivity and inclusivity are spurring change, particularly in the evolving definition of sexy.” At the same time, it noted that women have been actively focusing on “fit and comfort with the help of artificial intelligence and other technology,” something that VS did not adapt to quickly enough. 

While VS’s market share was falling and its relevance waning, smaller brands like American Eagle’s Aerie, ThirdLove, Adore Me and True & Co., among others, were busy “capitalizing on brand messaging that promotes comfort, body positivity, and female empowerment,” Cowen’s Oliver Chen stated a couple of years ago, and as a result, were co-opting some of the former titan’s grip on the market. 

Despite years of issues, including on the company culture front, it appears that not all is lost for the ailing retailer, though. CNBC notes that “since this past holiday season, momentum at Victoria’s Secret has grown” amid the implementation of company-wide changes. As the Wall Street Journal asserted recently, Leslie Wexner “stepped down as CEO and chairman of L Brands [last year] amid an investigation into his ties with the late, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein,” and Victoria’s Secret “has tried to modernize its image by ditching its annual Angels fashion show and hiring a wider range of models.” 

Beyond that, the company has made changes to its marketing, cut down on its promotions, and “most importantly,” CNBC states that it has introduced “new products, such as more comfortable items like bralettes.” It has also “shuttered more than 200 stores in 2020 in a bid to focus on its more profitable locations and invest online.” 

The most recent results for the company? L Brands reported Q1 results in mid-May, with revenue beating analysts’ estimates. Addressing Victoria’s Secret specifically, L Brands reported that same-store sales were up by 25 percent, compared to a 15 percent drop for the same period last year, and momentum was up, thanks, in part to new merch and new marketing. 

The case is New WTC Retail Owner LLC v. Victoria’s Secret Stores LLC, 653497/2021 (N.Y. Sup.)

One of the questions that has been looming since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the temporary shut-down of countless brick-and-mortar outposts, and brands rushed to cater to consumers by way of e-commerce operations is what retail will look like once lockdown rules fade and consumers are able to freely shop in brick-and-mortar stores again. To date, the overarching consensus has been that if brands want to tempt consumers back into their physical outposts (and most do, given that in-store purchases lead to fewer returns and more impulse buying), they will have to do things differently than they did pre-pandemic. 

With COVID vaccination roll-outs underway and mask mandates swiftly disappearing, recent reports from retailers like Walmart and Macy’s indicate that many people are, in fact, itching to get back into stores. Yet, at the same time, Harvard Business Review states that consumers “are currently visiting brick-and-mortar stores less than before the pandemic, and 43 percent shop more often online for products they would have previously bought in stores.”

Aside from the fact that shoppers are accustomed to the new, ultra-convenient and contactless retail world, one where they can acquire everything from groceries to Gucci bags online, and are more comfortable than ever in doing so, the return to pre-pandemic foot-traffic levels is also far off, as tourism remains low and many cities are not back at full resident capacity. (In its Q2 2020 report, The RealReal, for one, revealed that it was impacted by the mass-exoduses that have been underway in cities across the U.S.; the resale company reported that consignment “supply units” dropped the most in New York City, which “remained a significant headwind throughout Q2 as many New York consignors temporarily left the city.”)

Assuming brands can get consumers back in stores, it will take increased effort to keep them happy, particularly when it comes to discretionary purchases. As the AP’s Anne D’Innocenzio recently noted, experts anticipate that post-pandemic shoppers “will be even more demanding: after being forced to stay close to home, they are looking for better services and experiences.” As a result, brands “will need to reinvent the in-store experience to ensure that customers see value in visiting brick-and-mortar stores again,” EY’s Global Delivery Services Lead Sukesh Choubey says.

Brands are beginning to provide some examples of how this is being done. Tiffany & Co., for instance, now under the umbrella of luxury behemoth LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton, recently debuted a pop-up shop in Beverly Hills, which saw it tempt consumers with yellow diamonds and some buzzy marketing efforts, namely, a parlaying of its viral April Fool’s Day “Tiffany Yellow” social media stunt into a real-world experience. In addition to offering up jewelry for purchase, the fabled jewelry company equipped its Rodeo Drive outpost with plenty of Instagram-worthy elements, such as a temporarily yellow-washed interior and exterior, an exhibit of stunning yellow diamonds, and a photo booth. 

Fellow LVMH-owned brand Dior has 18 “Dioriviera” activations planned, starting with the Rosewood Miramar Beach in Santa Barbara, which will serve as the home of a summer-long Dior pop-up experience. The French fashion house’s chairman and CEO Pietro Beccari told WWD that the impending pop-ups are all “designed to surprise, offering our customers a unique encounter specific to this ephemeral universe, and at the same time they reinterpret the house’s iconic codes,” noting that “both regular and new customers” are drawn to these brand ventures. 

In the hyper-luxury vein, Hermès – which generated 100 percent or more in online sales gains in 2020, with 65 percent of its e-commerce sales coming from first-time Hermès shoppers – is relying on individualized attention to attract consumers to its brick-and-mortar stores. Bob Chavez, the president and CEO of the Americas for Hermès, recently said that the French luxury goods brand will offer one-on-one appointments between clients and sales associates even after all COVID restrictions have lifted, and that while there are technological innovations to be made in connection with its in-store operations, the 184-year-old brand is heavily focused on personalization, as opposed to simply boosting digitization the post-pandemic retail experience.

Meanwhile, in the beauty space, the likes of Sephora and Ulta announced late last year that they were planning their post-COVID retail strategies, with Sephora embarking on a venture that includes opening 850 shops in Kohl’s stores, and in the process, bringing more than 100 “carefully curated beauty brands” to the 65 million Kohl’s customers in the U.S. Around the same time, Ulta and Target revealed a partnership of their own, with the Minneapolis-headquartered big-box retailer announcing in November that Ulta would open makeup and skincare shops inside of “hundreds of” Target stores, with a roll out starting in the second half of 2021. Target CEO Brian Cornell and Ulta CEO Mary Dillon said at the time that “they see the strategic partnership as [one that] will catch customers’ attention,” with Target standing to gain “a unique traffic driver in a fast-growing merchandise category, while Ulta will gain visibility on [Target’s] store shelves and website, [which] has expanded its reach during the pandemic.” 

And not to be outdone, if recent trademark applications are any indication, Glossier has plans to engage with consumers in the post-pandemic brick-and-mortar landscape after shutting its few flagship stores. On the heels of pivoting to digital during the pandemic and launching “Live Edit,” a virtual makeup consultation service, the buzzy beauty brand filed a handful of applications for registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “Glossier Alley.” The proposed uses of the trademark, as cited in the applications that counsel for Glossier filed early this month? The “provision of food and drink, coffee shop, café, and restaurant services,” among other goods/services, such as “retail store services featuring cosmetics, [and] makeup,” “all-purpose carrying bags; clutches, shoulder bags, travel bags, [and] handbags;” and “apparel, clothing, footwear; hats; caps, scarves, [and] belts.” 

Taken together, these in-store-centric initiatives come as the consumer experience is “rapidly evolving” from one that is largely built upon “the transactional process of in-store shopping to one that is rooted in deep, ongoing and enriching relationships” and experiences, according to EY’s Americas Consumer Industry Markets Leader Kathy Gramling, Americas Consumer Retail Leader Jeff Orschell, and EY-Parthenon Americas Managing Director Joshua Chernoff. Ultimately, while the individual endeavors, themselves, may differ – from retailers like Target bulking up their products offerings to entice consumers to luxury brands, such as Tiffany & Co. and Dior, relying heavily on pop-up shops for brick-and-mortar buzz – the swiftly changing post-pandemic retail landscape means that retailers “must be prepared to continue to develop stronger deeper relationships with their customers — both online and in person.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many businesses – including some big-name entities – pushed into bankruptcy, as millions more (from high street names to those in the luxury space) have struggled to survive in light of lockdowns, shifting consumer priorities and consumption patterns, and an uncertain economy. As markets slowly begin to reopen across the globe, businesses are now being forced to navigate the challenges of a more discerning consumer base, which means that many companies are looking for ways not only to attract new buyers but to hold on to the ones they already have. 

Aside from the obvious hit to sales, the fallout from COVID-19 has highlighted shortcomings in many companies’ strategies, including an over-reliance on brick-and-mortar sales at the expense of fully fleshed-out e-commerce operations, and it has brought to the forefront weaknesses of no small number of brands in integral areas, such as their use of technology. The pandemic has also had an impact on brands, themselves, which are the identifiers that enable consumers to identify the source of a product or service, and the very assets that consumers tend to develop an affinity for.

Historically, consumers have stayed loyal to a brand as a result of the quality or due to an emotional connection. However, in the new market landscape rife with disruptive new-comers, other factors are proving to be increasingly important. Conscious consumers are considering the moral compass of a company, its sense of social responsibility, and the efforts that it is making to have a cleaner environmental footprint, for example, when making purchasing decisions. This shift in the decision-making process means that brands have a fight on their hands in order to retain consumer loyalty and stay ahead of competitors. They have to offer the consumer something more, while simultaneously retaining the original selling points that made the brand attractive to consumers in the first place. At the same time, price also plays a factor, and as a result, even moderately priced goods are being assessed against cheaper alternatives.

The result is such that businesses are not only re-entering a fiercely competitive market in the wake of the pandemic, but they also have to contend with a more sophisticated and judicious consumer than before. While many strategies aimed at addressing the evolving market will be underpinned by marketing and advertising, some businesses may need to go a step further to attract the necessary attention. One of the most obvious ways to do this is by changing or updating their branding.

Post-pandemic branding considerations

In the early stages of the pandemic, social media was awash with temporary marketing changes in famous trademarks that reflected social distancing guidelines. Italian sportswear brand Kappa, temporarily modified its famed “Omini” logo by adding some space between the silhouette of a man and woman leaning against each another. In a similar effort, Audi has separated its logo, which typically features four interlocked rings. At the same time, McDonald’s cut its well-known golden arches in half, while Mercedes’ star emblem logo came to feature a star disconnected from the surrounding circle. These clever changes achieved what they needed to – they grabbed the consumer’s attention in an otherwise closed economy.

Brands must now look at the medium to long term, and develop a strategy that will attract and retain consumers for the foreseeable future. For at least some brands, that appears to include making changes to their branding.

When considering a rebrand or an update to an existing brand (where changes may be minor), it is vital that the proper considerations are given to the associated intellectual property. Depending on the extent of the changes being made, brand owners may have to clear new marks to ensure that they will not infringe any prior existing third-party rights. If only certain elements are being altered, protections that are already in place for the original branding may not extend to new versions. As such, any proposed changes should be cleared by legal counsel to ensure that adequate protections are in place.

Beyond tweaking their own branding assets, existing brands may also consider joining forces temporarily in an attempt to bring something new to the market, not unlike what Kering-owned Gucci and Balenciaga have done recently in mashing up their logos and house codes for their respective collections, culminating in a fan frenzy and widespread social media attention to come with it. In instances when the co-branding tie-ups are not unions between two companies with the same owner, such as in the recent case of LVMH-owned Dior teaming up with privately-held Sacai, co-branding efforts should be considered from an intellectual property perspective in order to prevent misunderstandings as to the use of each party’s intellectual property, particularly if such collaborations are to last for a considerable period. And careful consideration should also be given to ownership of any newly created intellectual property. 

At the same time, now may be an opportune time for larger companies to assess the breadth of the assets in their portfolio and try to monetize their brands in ways beyond their current uses. This could come in the form of licensing deals – or maybe more likely for control-happy luxury goods names, joint ventures – that make use of the assets of companies’ core brands in connection with new products/services and/or new geographic markets. In what might be a less traditional means of monetizing existing assets, companies can consider brands in their portfolio that are dormant or that have been used inconsistently or on a much smaller scale, which could be ripe for assignment or licensing to third parties – or maybe even more interestingly, large-scale revamps, which is precisely what LVMH has been aiming to do with Patou, for instance. 

Potential changes and/or new approaches to brands, themselves, are starting to play out across the industry. Kim Kardashian’s KKW, for instance, is slated for a rebrand with new formulations “packaged into a more modern, innovative, enhanced and sustainable new look” coming soon (and a reported dropping of the “W”). Sister Kylie Jenner has relaunched her cosmetics brand to include “new and improved formulas that are clean and vegan, along with refreshed packaging.” Still yet, Tiffany & Co. made headlines this spring when it adopted a new yellow hue in furtherance of a marketing push presumably aimed at digitally-connected consumers.

Most recently, in something of the same vein as the Gucci and Balenciaga project. Capri Holdings-owned Versace and LVMH-owned Fendi joined for a co-branded collaboration, coined Fendace, which they are calling a “swap” (of the two brands’ creative directors), and stated on Sunday that the collection represents “Kim Jones’s vision for Versace and Donatella Versace’s interpretation of Fendi.”

These efforts are expected to continue as companies emerge from lengthy COVID lockdowns and sales slumps, and aim to remain relevant in light of shifting consumer expectations and priorities, the pandemic has also forced some businesses into new areas in order to survive, whether that be a diversification of the goods that a company sells or the services it is offering. If that has been the case, an assessment of current protections should be made to determine whether the coverage should be expanded.

And finally, businesses that have staved off bankruptcy to date but that are struggling with their way back to profitability as a result of the pandemic may be acquired or merged with larger entities that have managed to withstand the economic impact. Many strong market players, whether it be powerhouse conglomerates or private equity groups, will no doubt seize this opportunity to grow and in some cases, absorb potential rivals completely. Whatever the ultimate action, such deals should be underpinned by a full audit of any associated intellectual property rights.

The next year will be just as challenging for many businesses and brand owners. For those that survive and ultimately thrive, it is important to retain control over associated intellectual property. After all, intellectual property is often a company’s biggest asset and, in such uncertain times, its value should not be underestimated.

Renee Nugent is a Senior Associate in the Intellectual Property Group at Bird & Bird in Dubai. She specializes in all aspects of brand protection.

This article was initially published in June 2021, and has been updated to reflect additional projects, such as Fendi and Versace’s collaboration.

One of the standout performers in the luxury sphere during the sweeping retail disruption and corresponding sales slump that has been prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic? Hermès, which has consistently beaten analyst expectations – and fared better than most of its luxury peers – thanks to its sales growth and in some instances, such as the 2020 fiscal year, smaller than average sales drops. Fast forward to the first quarter of 2021, one that saw it generate 2.08 billion euros ($2.50 billion) in sales (a 44 percent increase compared to 2020 and a 33 percent rise from 2019), and the brand revealed that “all the business lines have returned to growth, driven by “highly dynamic activity in Greater China, sustained activity in Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Australia,” and rebounds in America and Japan. 

In a conversation with former WWD executive editor Bridget Foley for the French American Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Bob Chavez, the president and CEO of the Americas for Hermès, shed some light on the state of the brand’s growth generally, and particularly, in the wake of the pandemic, stating that while luxury may have an inherently “limited consumer base,” as Foley put it, Hermès continues to grow thanks to the fact that it has “so many product categories,” which clients continue to come back for as they build out their Hermès-centric “lifestyle.” 

Citing one “simple example” from last year, Chavez revealed that Hermès’ “fastest growing category” came in the form of “home and tableware.” That was “always a good category for us,” according to Chavez. However, “Last year, it just exploded,” a testament, he says to the stories “we have all heard about how people spent so much more time in their homes, and all of a sudden, thought, ‘I want a really luxurious cashmere blanket.’” Or as a result of the fact that “we are all eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home now,” many consumers have opted to upgrade their dishes, which prompted “porcelain sales to really increase,” something that he says “has not stopped,” and instead, “has really, really continued.” 

But even “when the home category starts to slow a bit,” he contends that Hermès is still well positioned for enduring growth, as “all of a sudden [consumers] may move into footwear because the footwear collection is really strong, or [demand] moves into jewelry or ready-to-wear or equestrian becomes a big thing for people.” With that in mind, he says that the brand is fortunate to keep growing thanks to the sheer variety of products that it offers. And beyond that, growth continues to come from loyal customers. “It really is all about a lifestyle,” he says. “People move from métier to métier because it is that Hermes lifestyle that they are enjoying and living.” 

In terms of COVID-era elements that the brand plans to continue to implement even as vaccines roll out and restrictions begin to fade, Chavez asserts that “one of the best [developments during the COVID pandemic] has been the very personalized service” that Hermès’ introduced. “We didn’t open our stores to the public right away, we opened by appointment, and we found that our clients loved that they could have these great individual appointments with their sales associates.” In addition to “giving us the opportunity to hyper-enhance that experience,” the introduction of appointments served to illustrate how much customers valued that service. “Now that we have started to open to the public, many of the clients still want to have an appointment and have that one-on-one time.” So, Chavez says that Hermès is planning to continue to accommodate clients in this way and offer appointments even after all COVID restrictions have been lifted. 

In another COVID development, Chavez noted that “clearly, everyone experienced a huge boom in digital sales last year.” Hermès’ revealed in its annual report in February that its e-commerce sales were up by more than 100 percent or more in all regions. More recently, in a Q1 conference call in April, the company’s Executive Vice President for Finance Eric du Halgouët touched on the topic of e-commerce, revealing that digital sales will likely exceed 1 billion euros in the not-too-distant future. At the same time, the group revealed that e-commerce was helping it to reach new clients; 65 percent of its sales online were to new customers. 

Addressing the enduring question about how such significant COVID-specific e-commerce growth will play out as stores begin to reopen, Chavez claims that “the digital business has continued to soar even into this year.” Yet, at the same time, the brand is starting to see a trend of customers that made their first-ever Hermès purchases online, “now wanting to come into the store to discover other things, [or to] touch and feel [products], and have that human contact.” This appears to be in line with the sentiment that the striking rise in e-commerce is not necessarily cannibalizing in-stores sales (as has been suggested as a potential outcome), but instead, it may be setting up first-time buyers to ultimately shop in-store when possible – or some mix thereof. 

As for what is currently drawing in consumers, aside from the obvious allure of the Hermès brand and its offerings, Chavez stated that the role that sustainability plays in the ethos – and the practice – of the 184-year-old brand is proving to be a noteworthy driver. “A lot of customers are coming in now because we make products that last a long time, products that don’t go out of style the next season or the next year, and because people know that they can pass those products on to their children and even their grandchildren,” which he says is important to sustainability-minded consumers. At the heart of this is something that Chavez says that fourth generation family member Robert Dumas put well when he stated that “Hermès makes things that can be repaired.” And “that is what we do,” per Chavez. “We will repair pretty much anything if it has to be repaired. So rather than throw it away, and buy something new again, we believe in this longevity, and I think it resonates with a lot of people today.” 

Logistically speaking, he admits that this “requires a lot of manpower,” particularly as the business has growth. 

Finally, Hermès in the midst of a 5-year expansion plan in the U.S., with stores coming outside of Detroit, in Aventura, Florida, and in Austin, Texas, for example, and with renovations of stores, including a major revamp of its Madison Avenue store in New York, underway. Amid an exodus of luxury brands from some of New York City’s most heavily-trafficked shopping areas due, in large part, to the onset and enduring impacts of COVID (and no shortage of lawsuits coming as a result), Chavez says that while Fifth Avenue, for instance, has “become very heavily tourist oriented,” with new stores opening and “pushing some of the luxury out,” to some extent that “might be changing again.” And he is “optimistic” that these major shopping avenues will bounce back.