Tag Archives: Fan Pier

The Method Behind Our “No Technology” Madness

Last month, when I announced that Louis would be closing its doors for good in July, the response was overwhelming. So many well wishers, a handful naysayers, and two or three people who claimed they knew more about my business than I ever could. The assessment walked a fine line between critiquing me and promoting their own interests, but I found the comments interesting nonetheless.

One savvy blogger wrote that they knew Louis was closing because of our major “tech fail.” They stated that the barrier created between our customer and us once we moved from our trendy Newbury Street location to the rapidly developing Fan Pier could only be repaired if we took a cruise down Digital Drive. After a few more clever, yet uninformed sentiments were declared, the blogger asked, “…being such forward thinkers, why (did) LOUiS shun tech?”

Well, for those of you holding your breath…here’s why:

I’ve been reading a lot, in the Business of Fashion, WWD, etc. about the benefit or deficit of adding a multi-channel sales strategy to your business. And there are reasons why the benefit hasn’t been definitively defined and the deficit remains. A shining example is Gucci – a brand that has a global, multi-channel sales strategy that has compromised and weakened, and deteriorated the cachet of what Gucci once stood for.

It was recently announced that, Frida Giannini, the Creative Director for Gucci since 2005, would be stepping down. According to an article in The New York Times, the company claims that after Tom Ford, Ms. Giannini couldn’t maintain the “buzz,” and after 9 years would be leaving the brand. Did she lead the iconic fashion brand astray, or should the fact that “Luxury consumers, particularly in China, have turned away from Gucci’s signature logo-emblazoned goods in favor of subtler fashion statements” be telling them something.

Further into the article you get the sense that their parent company, and Kering’s chairman, François-Henri Pinault, recognizes that “Over the last five-seven years, there has been a great change in the world of luxury in terms of scale and growth, and we are facing the question of how to maintain exclusivity while continuing to grow.”

I would argue that you can’t. You can find Gucci everywhere these days, and when you can find a brand everywhere, it’s not exclusive and it’s simply not a luxury brand anymore.

As is expected, all successful industries spend a great deal of time and money listening to their consumer – and the consumer says that they want it fast, and they want it cheap. But when you give the consumer something fast and cheap, they are at the same time agreeing (willing or ignorantly) to give up a little (or a lot of) quality as well. Companies react to their customers to maximize what they want as quickly as possible, to the point where the consumer experiences fatigue, loses interest, and really doesn’t care for the brand anymore.

Perhaps this is what has happened to Gucci. And perhaps instead of talking about it, the company thought technology would fix it, but actually technology is breaking down the brand even further.

Let me ask you – why wouldn’t a person go into a Gucci store, find something they like, turn their back, pull out their smartphone, and find it online or at another retail location on sale?

People think that brands will be obsolete if they don’t incorporate technology into their model, and my argument is that technology or not, most brands will be obsolete anyway. You can sell out and expect people to pay full price when they know they don’t have to.

Another great example of “too much” is the GAP. After thriving for the better part of 40 years, they are now the perfect representation of how a perfectly good thing can go awry when you grow too much. They have become a sad example of brand that has to be so “across the board” they can’t get it back. It seems that every two years they promote something to the effect of “Too much fashion? Let’s go back to basics,” and two years after that they say “You’re too basic! Let’s get back to fashion.” They just let go of their creative director too, and they can blame whomever they want, but the bottom line is, how can you get it all right when you have so many categories to service?

I’ve heard from several people that the fashion at the popular brand J.Crew is beginning to lag now they too have so. many. stores. Perhaps it can be said that Mickey Drexler, former CEO of the GAP, current chairman and CEO of J.Crew, has become a victim of his own paradigm. He knows how to get these companies going, but burns them out by inventing too many ways and locations to sell them.

Once you get that big, you can’t cut things back, you just have to be that much more generic with what you do.

However, some brands have figured out how to beat the system and keep their sales intact. Stores like H&M, Uniqlo, Top Shop, and Zara have mastered the art of copying design trends, keeping production costs low, and establishing a quick turnover of a product that is unique to them. They control the ebb and flow and they are growing because of it.

There was a day when people didn’t want to buy something with a click. There was a day where people saved their money to purchase something of quality that they coveted. They were proud and they appreciated the accomplishment. Now, sadly, those days are all but gone.

And what of the actual products. It seems like no one talks about the products anymore, they only talk about the incidentals like: is a celebrity wearing the brand, and what was Kim Kardashian’s #OOTD today?

What ever happened to appreciation of craftsmanship? Don’t you want to know what it feels like? Don’t you want to try it on? Don’t you want a knowledgeable sales person to recommend what he or she knows will work with your body? Don’t you want to know that what works for Kim, isn’t going to work for you.

For me, the real problem with technology is that it is taking away the art of choice. Your smartphone or iPad or television tells you what you want, and you believe it. When you shop online, and therefore eliminate all of your senses while doing so, you end up with generic goods – but at a price. And as a result, brands are no longer pushing the envelope the way they used to. Generic is expected and brands are learning how to deliver it. That’s not a world I care to live in, and I certainly wouldn’t let LOUiS live there either.

Eventually consumers will realize what they gave up, understand that overall they weren’t really saving money, but instead were being lured into a world where corporate, crowd-sourced products are simply being reproduced again, and again, and again.

So, while some of you prefer to stay in and shop glued to your smartphones and tablets, other are excited to be out in the world honoring individuality, effort, and ingenuity. Some of us actually enjoy the art of exploration, and make a concerted effort to seek out the things that possess value and have longevity.

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Maison Ullens Sweater and Skirt, Jason Wu Blouse, Pierre Hardy Shoes

The Perfect Fit (It’s Not Over Until It’s over)

Well, 2015 is certainly off to an exciting start, isn’t it? By now I hope that most of you have read the blog I wrote to address the incredible responses we had to the announcement that Louis would close in July. If you haven’t, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you, again, to our loyal customers – old and new, from near and far – who have articulately expressed that you will miss everything Louis has represented in Boston for nearly a century.

It was a pleasure to hear from so many women who have shopped at Louis throughout the years. I found their comments reflected a sense of sadness that the discovery and entertainment of an afternoon spent at Louis would soon be lost. Many confessed the love they had for coming to the store to find something they had never seen before, or to fall in love with a garment that clearly went against the grain of mediocrity.

It’s been equally nice hearing from the men whom we have been dressing for decades, but the comments I’ve gotten from them seem a bit more distressed. Perhaps it’s because they understand that they can’t find the things we sell at Louis anywhere else in the country – and truth be told, they can’t.

The product I buy is made by hand and I am able to spec it to whatever I want. It’s very interesting to me when I go into stores like Neiman’s, Bergdorf’s or Saks, because while they may carry some of the brands I carry, they usually stock things in only exceptionally large sizes. I often wonder, do they think only a big or tall man can afford quality?

At Louis I know that our customer prefers a cut that is fitted and tailored to perfection. I also know they will want every last drop of the inventory I have because #1, I never buy an abundance of any one item, and #2 these men want (and need) to have a selection of sizes that truly fit.

What some men may not understand is that when you buy a garment in a department store that is already much too big on you, you are essentially asking your tailor to suck the soul right out of it by having it re-cut for you. When you try on a garment and have to adjust the sleeves or a nip or tuck here and there, it’s not taking the soul out of it – it’s making it fit you. That’s what we do best here.

So, I invite you all to come in to Louis before we close in July because, well, it’s not over until it’s over. I’ve spent a lifetime figuring it out what you want, and I understand what fits you well and what you will feel good in – from the moment you put it on, not after you get it back from the tailor.

I invite you all to come to Louis to discover the perfect fit – while you can still find the perfect fit in Boston.

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The End of an Era

It’s been quite interesting, reading all of the articles that have come out since last Friday when it was announced that I have begun preparation to close the doors of our beloved Louis this July.

Regardless of the speculation of our critics, moving to the Fan Pier was the best decision I have ever made for Louis. While my family has been in love with Boston for nearly a century, the thing that kept us relevant was the fact that we were forward thinkers and believed in evolution.

I am grateful for Joe Fallon, for sharing his vision with me and for introducing the rest of you to the gorgeous, undiscovered property that has been our home since 2010. If you ever gazed out of our windows or sat on the balcony of Sam’s while sipping a cold beer, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you’ve been missing out.

To reiterate, business has been on point and invigorated by young CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winners including Tim Coppens, Paul Andrew, Public School, Proenza Schouler, and Jason Wu. We were further inspired lately by the beautiful minds of Simone Rocha, Rosie Assouline, Jonathan Simkhai, Jacquemus, Greg Lauren, Baja East, and countless others. Traveling around the globe 5 months each year and getting to know each and every one of them personally has been my pleasure and I am grateful for the art and discovery.

I have been choosing what Boston’s most fashionable would wear for decades, and now it’s time to make some choices for myself. I look forward to this early retirement and all that it will afford me, including spending valuable time with the people who have exercised incredible patience while I have been focused on the store. Furthermore, I am excited to pursue interest and passions, both personally and in the community, that I have only dreamed about until now.

To the naysayers of this announcement, we expected you, and we appreciate your interest.

For our supporters, we thank you – for patronizing Louis. We are grateful for the posts, comments and tweets that acknowledge Louis as a beacon of light in Boston fashion. Trust us, we are going to miss you just as much as you are going to miss us.

Like you have said, it is the end of an era – a wonderful, fashion filled, evolving era.

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Discover Kiton, Cashmere for Fall. Luxury Like No Other.

I would hope this goes without saying, but it’s important that you understand I’m not just out here preaching about EXPERIENCE and APPRECIATION. I live it.

I want you to know that I don’t buy for Louis, and ultimately for you, from my computer. Doing so would be insulting to all of us, including the artists/designers who work tirelessly to craft impeccable garments that must be seen and touched to be appreciated. In my every effort to keep Louis looking and feeling like Louis, and make sure it never morphs into a “trendy” department store, I step out from behind my own computer and travel the world so I can ensure that the pieces I intentionally bring back to Boston are like nothing you’ve seen or touched before.

With that said…

While we’ve all been enjoying the sights and sounds and smells of the summer we never thought would begin, I find myself looking forward to seeing the leaves change color and feeling the slight chill that Autumn brings to Boston every September. New items for the season have finally started to make their way to the store, and while I am excited by every piece that comes in, none excite me quite like the menswear that has arrived from Kiton – especially their cashmere.

If you live in Boston, you simply have to have a different kind of appreciation for cashmere. We all need outerwear that’s deliciously warm, and while a puffy down parka will suffice, albeit awkwardly over a suit, it will never look and feel as luxurious as cashmere. In menswear, most outerwear cloth is purposely created to be an in-between weight that translates just fine in other parts of the world, but it just doesn’t work here in New England. Do you remember last winter?

When you visit Louis you will see cashmere from Kiton you likely won’t see anywhere else. From luxurious overcoats crafted from 600 grahams of blanket soft and incredibly warm cashmere, to lightweight cashmere jackets that look wintery, but feel comfortably cool. Offered in rich palettes that include beautiful browns, bright blues, and interesting olives, it’s immediately apparent that the man who shops here simply isn’t interested in adding another navy blazer to his wardrobe. The man who shops here is looking for depth and dimension, and Kiton delivers.

Not only will you see things here that you likely won’t see elsewhere, the shopping experience at Louis is also quite different. While other stores only offer “try on” pieces in navy or gray, along with fabric swatches to confuse you and make you wonder what your garment will actually look like once your order comes in, we want to do better. And we do so by investing where others won’t.

The bottom line is, when I visit the Kiton showroom I like to take some risks. Risks that other stores won’t take because having pieces handmade in interesting (and expensive) fabrics to carry in inventory is just not within their comfort level. Perhaps they don’t have enough confidence in their buyers, or perhaps they don’t have enough confidence in you. So in the end, they put the risk on you – with a navy “try on” and a 6-inch swatch.

Me? I’m I more than willing to take that “risk” because I have confidence in Kiton, I have confidence in my experience as a buyer after all of these years, and I have confidence in you.

Kiton has a taste level that’s unparalleled in the industry. They are the best at what they do, and I have no problem investing in the best.

Once you come in to DISCOVER and APPRECIATE the Kiton tradition of luxury, you won’t be able to live without it either.

Trust me. Try it on.

 

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Who Goes to the Waterfront?

 

The tall Ship in the Background with the Screen in the Foreground Says it All

Last Saturday was great day at the waterfront. RedBull sponsored an Extreme Diving Event off the roof of the Institute of Contemporary Art. 80 feet above the water (12 stories high) 10 men had the nerve to do triple summersaults with double twists and land feet first in the water. There was no doubt that these men were insane….but you couldn’t take your eyes off them. It felt like the 50’s something very daredevil but no high tech involved….just men in their speedos.

 

Starting from a Handstand....I can do that

Here’s another shot taken with a tanker cruising through the  middle of the event…never a dull moment. But that is the Waterfront, there is always something moving and there are so many pieces that complete the puzzle. We are so happy down here. The attitude  is fun and relaxed especially when the world is not. We had 25,000 visitors at the Waterfront on Saturday…the store (Louis) and Sam’s were hopping and the energy represented…well RedBull. I used Hipstamatic to take the next shot (film which makes your photo look vintage) . I think it is appropriate for the day.

 

Old Time Boston in Real Time

 

Here’s What the News Didn’t Tell You

I’m sure it’s a big deal that Whitey Bulger got caught….now that’s he’s 81 years old. Everyday down here at Fan Pier there is heavy security and three police boats on the harbor for every visit. There are also a tons of “News Vehicles” and reporters ready to report his every move. Here is the scoop the tax payers are paying for his expensive transport, his healthcare and his legal team for years to come and he will probably die before he ever gets sentenced. But you would think while they have news crews down here they might walk 500 feet to their right and find an amazing event taking place on the water for the next four days. Extreme sailing races  happen all over the world and followed by millions of fans. The organization chose Boston as its’ first destination in the United States because it was the perfect set up to bring the people closer to the races. Usually the races are farther out at sea and video is the only way to watch them. The races started yesterday and will continue until Monday.

How LUCKY we are to have this in our city yet our press and television stations find it NOT noteworthy. What wrong with this picture?  Is it too POSITIVE  a new story so we should not be privileged to the information? Are they holding the story a secret  until the races have been here for five years and then they might mention them???? OK maybe sailing isn’t generic enough to be put on television…how about the most amazing FIREWORKS ????? The fact that they had to close Logan for the fireworks last night, would that be newsworthy ?????? Oh NOOOOOO even the Globe couldn’t drum up a photo and report on what’s happening right under their noses but I’m sure they had an article on who visited the courtroom yesterday….500 feet away.

By the way here’s the fireworks finale from last night…it was amazing!!!

Don’t Freak….it’s just more change on Fan Pier

 

In case you missed the news in Boston last week Joe Fallon and the Vertex company broke ground on two buildings (one city block each). It’s the largest development project in the country, along with being the most expensive. Vertex is an amazing company solving lifetime illnesses by marrying innovation with intelligent risks. I feel honored to be surrounded by companies that are not sitting waiting but moving forward with new business models and new ideas. The world as we know it has ALREADY changed it’s now a matter of Americans to catch up with the consequences from previous paradigms.

It took Joe Fallon 12 hours to Start Construction After the Ground Breaking

Plus extreme sailing is almost here. Everything is in place for Thursday’s activities. The races start Thursday and run through Monday 1:30 to 5 p.m. There will bands playing every night. Joe Fallon really knows how to throw a party!!!!

 

The Food Tents and Sound Stage are all in Place

 

The Buoys

 

The are Plenty of Good Looking Sailors from all over the World

 

They Put the Boats Together in the Parking Lot and Crane it into the Water

 

Ready to Go

 

Mary Benoit Organized The Extreme Sailing Event...She's Amazing!!!!

Red Bull Hospitality Tent