Leather goods and footwear: “Constantly spurring new desire”

Jennifer Cuvillier – “Constantly spurring new desire”

The bag & shoe sector is experiencing steady growth but also constant transformation. What are the future developments and how can fashion houses refine their strategies? Answers to this and more from Jennifer Cuvillier, style director of Le Bon Marché.

1/ How do you explain the accessories craze?

It’s a phenomenon largely due to the attitude of designers, who positioned accessories at the very core of their creative process. Today, accessories are anything but accessory. They give a style direction, recount a silhouette, convey a real fashion message. And they are all over the runways, which further increases their desirability. For brands, they are in fact a strategic issue, and brands don’t hesitate to invest heavily to stake out a place in the market.

2/ The sector is progressing but it is also changing. How?

Today, product types evolve very quickly. In terms of shoes, the trend is to flat heels, with the triumphant rise of sneakers but there are also sandals, in luxury or sport versions. In bags it’s a bi-polar moment: they’re either mini or XXL. In both cases, creative changes are dictated by the same necessity: to create surprise and spur desire.

3/ What advice would you give today to a company in this sector?

Many fashion houses want to try their hand in the market, and it can be very profitable. But they have to be careful, because success is not guaranteed, and demands the development of a very successful strategy. The brand has to preserve its own codes, but also contribute a real added-value, create a distinctly new voice to stand out in a competitive world. This requires building a long-term strategy. And just accept that you are going to have to take your time.

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4/ There’s a lot of talk about an inevitable slowdown. Do you share this point of view, and if so, what might be the antidote to the forecasted decline?

I don’t believe in a slowdown because consumer habits are already in place. On the other hand, I do think this universe is obliged to constantly transform itself. For the past two to three years, growth has been largely driven by the surge in personalization. At Le Bon Marché, we inaugurated two corners in this vein, and both have been a big hit with consumers. The first offers all kinds of service; the second, called “I made it myself at BM”, lets our customers personalise an item themselves in our ateliers. We also regularly invite artists to customize select products, to come up with a different way of meeting the desire for rarity and singularity, which are today’s Holy Grail.

Next February, discover once again our complete Bag & Shoe offering to compose your leather-goods and footwear collections: a dedicated area in the heart of the forum, 300 tanners, 300 accessories makers, a program of product / market / fashion conferences and workshops, and a space dedicated to manufacturing. Halls 3 & 4