Fair(mined) Business: Editor’s Letter, May 2014

Baselworld, as most of you know, is renowned for its spectacular, multimillion-dollar booths. And this year, Graff Diamonds, a first-time exhibitor at the Swiss luxury show, had one of the most remarkable. With its high ceilings, subdued lighting (bestowed by an extraordinary chandelier), not to mention Laurence Graff himself—the diamantaire stood snacking behind the maple wood–paneled bar while I perused his rarefied merchandise—the booth presented a highbrow glimpse of how some people do business in Basel.

At my next appointment, with Fendi, a much more fashion-driven vision of Basel prevailed. Fresh from a corporate reshuffling, the brand’s timepiece division is now 100 percent owned by Fendi and its parent company, LVMH (after buying up the remaining shares in its longtime licensee). The design director who led me through the latest collection was crystal-clear about how Fendi’s booth and merchandise will emulate exactly what’s happening in its runway collections.

Exhibit A: Fendi’s new watches come with their own little detachable mink coats, paralleling the brand’s fall focus on fur. For more on the season’s obsession with coziness, turn to “Fall Tales,” contributor Venessa Lau’s definitive take on the year’s style trends—and how jewelry fits into the equation.

We show you how it’s done in “Bags, Shoes, and Jewels,” surely our most stylish accessories shoot ever, but for a step-by-step breakdown on how to give your showcases a chic new lease on life, check out “Merchandising Madness,” contributor Michele Meyer’s handy merchandising primer.

Graff doesn’t wholesale, but that didn’t stop the brand from unveiling a spectacular Baselworld booth.

The May issue, if you haven’t already guessed, is our annual paean to ­fashion, but we’re savvy enough to know that the most strategic way to indulge that ­passion is to formulate a top-notch buying plan. In advance of this month’s ­LUXURY and JCK shows in Las Vegas, we bring you our timely “Vegas Buyers Club” ­doubleheader, a rundown of what trends retailers are planning to support during market week and the rationale for why they’re spending.

Once you’ve bought everything you need to buy, check out “Secrets of Retail Sales Superstars,” in which contributor Kristin Young asked the strongest sales­people in the country to divulge the secrets of their success. We’ve coupled that feature with “The Many Ways Retailers Pay and Reward Employees,” the ultimate guide to compensation.

The other major focus of this blockbuster issue is sustainability. In “Eco-Conscious Retail: It’s Easier Than You Think!,” we cover things such as the type of lights you should be using in your store (LEDs) and what materials to avoid when considering gift bags (PVC). If, however, you have time to read only one piece, make it senior editor Jennifer Heebner’s “Fairtrade, Fairminded, and the Ethical Gold Rush,” which details the growing push behind jewelry certified under Fairmined mandates.

The Fairmined buzz even hit Baselworld, where Chopard unveiled the first watch that uses gold sourced from a mine adhering to high ethical and environmental standards. While the market for fair trade jewels is still too small to make a big dent at the JCK show, you can bet people will use the occasion to talk about what it means to buy and sell ethically. I, for one, can’t wait. See you soon!

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