Speakers at WJA’s 2013 Spring Fling Discuss the Modern Consumer

Designers must think about the modern day consumer when building their brand, said industry leaders during WJA’s Spring Fling held in collaboration with W magazine on May 15 in New York City. 

“Consumers today are so savvy, the most important thing for a brand to be is authentic,” said Lou Iacovelli, founder and president of Atelier Creative Services, Inc.

Brand building, however, doesn’t happen quickly.

“You have to evolve with time,” said Colleen Caslin, chief operating officer of Verdura.

In order for designers to be successful in the jewelry industry, they have to retain their individuality and understand what distinguishes their brand from the competition, speakers said.

“The best thing you can do is have a collection with a point of view,” said Mickey Ateyeh, owner and principal of Angela Cummings Designs.

The modern day consumer is intrigued by one-of-a-kind pieces, reflecting a shift in mentality that used to favor conspicuous and widely recognized items. Shoppers are not simply interested in the design, quality, and aesthetic, but also in the story behind the collection. “People don’t want to walk into the room wearing the same thing as someone else,” Iacovelli said.

Panelists also spoke of the importance of recognizing how your customer shops—whether online or in a boutique—and adapting your brand to fit the 21st-century consumer. 

“I always say I run a little jewelry department in the middle of a handbag store, so I have to capture shoppers before they go to the Celine boutique or Nancy Gonzalez section,” said Jodi Kaplan, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for Bergdorf Goodman.

“Even the 60-year-old consumer is online,” Iacovelli said. He shared an anecdote about the morning after Jennifer Lopez walked the red carpet carrying a clutch designed by one of his clients; the handbag designer’s website crashed from the onslaught of consumers who attempted to buy it. “People of all ages are online,” he said. “The world is instantaneous.”

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