The accessories industry turned out Monday for the annual Accessories Council Summit, where the day’s agenda was all about learning and networking. Here, a quick overview of the speakers and panelists, plus a few “awards” that Accessories Magazine would like to bestow:
#1. THE MOST RIDICULOUSLY GORGEOUS WORK VENUE EVER: HEARST TOWER
Thank you Accessories Council for letting us live the Hearst Life for a day, all while learning about invaluable accessories and business lessons. But truth be told, we’d attend an all-day seminar on pencil shavings if they promised to hold it here! With a cascading water fountain this soothing, we can cancel our yoga membership!
#2: THE MAN WHO ALWAYS MAKES US FEEL BEHIND THE TIMES: MARSHAL COHEN, NPD GROUP
Ever feel like you’re not keeping up with the accelerating growth of technology? Or retail? Or the ever-changing consumer? Or shifting demographics? That’s because you’re not! It’s virtually impossible to know everything, but Marshal Cohen’s job is to help get us halfway there. In his “Revolutionary Retail” talk, he outlined what brands need to know to keep up.
A snippet: “How do consumers define who they are/were? The senior generation was defined by their car; Boomers were all about their house; Generation Xers were all about buying their first laptop–were they a Mac or a PC person? Generation Y was all about getting their first cell phone. What defines the Millennial? It’s about having experiences so they can share them online.” — Marshal Cohen, NPD Group
#3: THE ‘NOW WE FEEL GUILTY WE THREW THAT WATER BOTTLE INTO THE TRASH’ AWARD: “PROFITABLE SUSTAINABILITY”
Moderated by Anne Fulenwider, Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire, panelists Nina Garcia (Creative Director of Marie Claire) and Cara Smyth, Fair Fashion Center, all discussed sustainability in fashion and what the role of brands, fashion magazines and retailers hold. Bonus: We got to hear about Nina’s glacier trip to Alaska as prep work for the magazine’s article on the topic, and we learned that Cara was wearing a dress made from 100% recycled bottles!
A snippet: “One in 4 people in the world work in fashion… we can be a huge force for good but if we make that chic. So that’s how I became a green fighter. There are tremendous opportunities for designers to look at what was once waste. What design and press can do is to make it cool and attract the consumer. Corporate leaders have a responsibility to put out better product. Consumers shouldn’t have to choose. It should be good. How do we not fly all the jewelry in for distribution because it’s always late? We’re hard wired for change. Let’s change. So consumers don’t have to ask who is doing the organic piece. Everyone will be doing it.” — Cara Smyth, Fair Fashion Center
#4. THE ‘WE REALLY NEED TO UP OUR FOOTWEAR GAME’ AWARD: “THE IMPORTANCE OF THE INFLUENCER”
Apparently, 51% of marketers say they get better customers through influencer marketing than traditional advertising. But what is the “magic sauce” to make this work? Moderated by Jessica Pels of Marie Claire and featuring Karen Robinovitz of Digital Brand Architects, Rach Martino of RachMartino.com and Eva Amurri Martino of the Happily Eva After blog, the panel discussed misconceptions about who those influencers are and what they do, not to mention their increasing value on the brand/consumer relationship.
A snippet: “No one cares if it says #ad, as long as it’s legit. There’s not a movie or a TV show without product placement, but bloggers will say no if it doesn’t represent them. It has to fit their brand.” –Karen Rabinovitz
#5. THE ‘YES, STATISTICS CAN BE FASHIONABLE, FEMALE AND FUN GRRRL POWER’ AWARD: “DATA IS THE NEW BLACK”
Moderated by Carolyn Cohen of The NPD Group and featuring Leslie Muller of VSP, Lisa Green of Google and Nadya Kohl of PlaceIQ, the panel showed how data is everything these days, but it’s nothing without understanding how to apply it.
A snippet: “I’m an optimist. Data feels scary and technology feels scary, but what’s common is the test and learn cycle. That idea needs to be adopted… use tech, learn and iterate your way to success. The data doesn’t lie to you! You need to learn how to use it.” — Nadya Kohl, PlaceIQ
#6. THE ‘PAY ATTENTION AS THIS MIGHT BE YOUR NEXT INVESTMENT’ AWARD: “CHANGING RETAIL LANDSCAPES”
Moderated by Suzanne Kapner of The Wall Street Journal and featuring Grant Smuts of QVC and Bob D’Loren of Xcel Brands, “Changing Retail Landscapes” explored how companies can stay ahead in an increasingly competitive and shifting landscape. D’Loren also talked of bringing manufacturing back to the United States and what types of investments are needed to do so.”
A snippet: “We saw the changes about five years ago; that moment when control over margin shifted from retailers to consumers. We saw this shift and emerging social media and realized everything would change. We knew we would have to rethink what the fashion business is today. We knew we’d have to think like a media company that does fashion, not a fashion company that does media. Today if you come to Xcel, QVC merchants and planners are always in our office, and we located the technical designers from china in our space. So we design, plan and merchandise together. The inspirations come from concept teams. They’re really looking at social for silhouette, proportion, color Pantones, deep dives into Google to see what people are planning for. Our goal is to deliver goods every week into the store with the goal of increasing inventory turns. ” — Bob D’Loren, Xcel Brands
#7. THE LET’S ORDER SOMETHING NOT ON THE MENU AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS’ AWARD: “ON HAPPY EMPLOYEES=HAPPY CUSTOMERS”
Susan Reilly Salgado, the founder and managing partner of Hospitality Quotient, the organizational consulting arm of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, showed the audience how to take the most important tenets of restaurant hospitality and apply them to their brand and retail operation. She gave the anecdote of asking various hotel room service order takers to make her a BLT “off the menu” and seeing if they can accommodate her in a friendly, timely manner. Are employees empowered enough to make decisions?
A snippet: “92% of consumers worldwide trust word of mouth recommendations; 86% would pay more if they could be guaranteed a great customer experience and 27% of those would pay 15% more. 89% of customers switched after one bad experience… so takes a lot to gain them, but can lose them instantly.”
#8. THE ‘THIS HITS CLOSE TO HOME’ AWARD: “THE WORKPLACE OF THE FUTURE”
Accessories Magazine, which was recently purchased by trade show giant UBM, is moving into an “agile work space” at the end of the year. This means open plan space, no offices, no cubicles, rotating desks…and plenty of chance encounters with co-workers for spontaneous collaboration. Apparently, this is the wave of the future, and once you get over the initial strangeness, this new office paradigm makes a lot of sense. No wonder it’s being adopted by the most progressive companies. Moderated by Karen Harvey of Karen Harvey Consulting and featuring Mary Stevens of Herman Miller, Morris Levy of The yard, and Michele Chicoine of Bloomberg, “The Workplace of the Future” discussed how in creative fields like accessories manufacturing and even retailing, this new office structure breaks down hierarchies and opens up endless possibilities.
#9. THE ‘WE ARE SO BUYING A SHINOLA TURNTABLE’ AWARD: “ACCESSORIES AND WHO’S DOING IT RIGHT”
Moderated by Morty Singer of Marvin Traub Associates and featuring Daniel Caudill of Shinola and Mauricio Xavier Solodujin of Loewe, this panel discussed the differences and similarities between a new brand with American heritage and a generations-old Spanish brand.
A snippet: “We recently launched women’s jewelry, and women’s is huge part of our growth. All of what we develop next is predicated on manufacturing. And a lot of those limitations in the U.S. We’re launching a turntable for holiday, but we had to build a factory for that. We look at it this way: we can either build our own factory, partner with someone who owns a factory, or purchase from a third party. So the manufacturing comes first. We pick what fits for the brand. Turntables make sense for the brand. Detroit, music. Entering the audio space.” –Daniel Caudill, Shinola
#10. THE ‘WE WANT TO THROW OUT OUR CELL PHONES AND TAKE A HIKE BY A BABBLING BROOK’ AWARD: “THE FUTURE LABORATORY”
Meg Asaro, Managing Director, Strategy of The Future Laboratory, talked about how mood can affect buying decisions and how brands can tune into this.
A snippet: “The digital revolution brought all these great innovations but makes things more difficult and it robs us of other things, namely discovery. We live in bubbles. In fact, 47% of young smart phone owners use their phone/headphones to not have to talk to people.”
And last but not least…
THE ‘DOES THIS WOMAN EVER REST?’ AWARD: KAREN GIBERSON, ACCESSORIES COUNCIL PRESIDENT
Accessories magazine popped into another Accessories Council event at 8am this morning and there was Karen, bright and chipper!