Myer is firming its focus on international fashion brands – and customers – by signing a suite of new labels and making some drastic changes to its season launch program.
The department store has signed eight new international brands, including several that are making their Australian retail debut.
Among them is Victoria, Victoria Beckham, the secondary line of the former Spice Girl who has built a successful international fashion brand.
Models wear Marni and Jil Sander shoes (right), two of the new labels signed by Myer. Photo: Eddie Jim
Other big names coming to Myer Melbourne include Marni, Lanvin, Rochas, Jil Sander and Carmen March.
Ganni and Diane Von Furstenberg, famous for its printed wrap dresses, will also be joining the retailer.
The announcement comes as its rival David Jones this week announced it had signed up French designer label Balmain, which had previously been part of Myer’s stable.
David Jones has signed on 30 new brands in the past year, including key Australian designers Aje and By Johnny.
Myer’s signing of new brands also signals a boost in its focus on drawing Asian-Australian customers, as well as Asian tourists, to the department store.
Like much of the industry, Myer has been struggling with soft sales for several quarters.
In March, it will update the market on its Christmas trading figures, which began the period down 5 per cent on last year.
Karen Brewster, Myer’s executive general manager merchandise buying, hoped the “newness” of some brands and the appeal of seeing the garments up close could persuade online shoppers to come back to the stores.
Myer’s international fashion buyer, Anna Sergiou, with models wearing Marni, one of eight new international brands picked up by the department store. Photo: Eddie Jim
“The brands are coming in all at once – it creates a real scale,” Ms Brewster said.
The “loyal, high-value consumer” of international brands also helped create a spillover effect into other departments, such as cosmetics and homewares, Ms Brewster said.
“They have real gravitas. They are magnetic brands. There is more value in the brands than just the sales we get,” she said.
The new brands, which range in price from $ 200 for entry-level Ganni to several thousands for Lanvin and Rochas, were also chosen by the international buying team, led by Anna Sergiou, for their appeal to Asian customers.
“You’d be foolish not to recognise that in the product offering,” Ms Brewster said.
To attract an Asian clientele, Myer has been marketing to Asian clients using WeChat, as well as merchandising its stores to appeal to a more affluent customer. For example in Melbourne, the designer bag section was moved to the ground floor to give it visibility from the street.
According to Tourism Research Australia, shopping is the number-two activity undertaken by Chinese visitors to Melbourne.
As more international brands open standalone stores in Australia, Brewster acknowledged the competition but said the department store model had its benefits.
“The beauty [of Myer] is the mix of brands. While you may have flagships, it’s competition but it’s brand building, it’s equity. A lot of customers don’t wear one brand head to toe,” she said.
Another major change for Myer is shelving its lavish season launches in favour of more intimate showings.
The store will also hold more customer events, as well as a number of in-store showcases during Melbourne Fashion Festival featuring ambassador Jennifer Hawkins.
“We want to launch the season with more longevity,” Ms Brewster said. “We always go out with something innovative but we want to connect with our consumer through the winter season.”