Archive for LUXURY BRANDS
Fete Accompli | Bulgari’s Secret Garden
- Veronica Bulgari at the Bowery Hotel. Photographs by Patrick McMullan/PatrickMcMullan.com
- Zani Gugelmann
- Veronica Swanson Beard, Claiborne Swanson Frank, Veronica Miele Beard
- Asia Baker and Sophie Pera
- Jennifer Creel, Bettina Zilkha, Adelina Wong Ettelson and Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos
- Matthew Settle and Celine Rattray
The Lower East Side of Manhattan isn’t typically known for its lush gardens and pastoral atmosphere, but last night Bulgari transformed the Bowery Hotel’s private dining room into a Mediterranean Eden. Jasmine with bursts of lemon provided the centerpieces of the table, but also the brand’s latest fragrance, Mon Jasmin Noir.
Guests like the “Gossip Girl” patriarch Matthew Settle, the sisters-in-law and designers Veronica Miele Beard and Veronica Swanson Beard, and the documentarian Maggie Betts (whose film “The Carrier” is premiering next month at the Tribeca Film Festival) lingered over cocktails and tracks provided by Paul Sevigny, who looked Savile Row-ready in a navy suit. An English garden-like setting replete with rose trees and overstuffed settees and couches acted as the backdrop. Sprinkled among the boldface names were tables featuring the exotic and rich ingredients providing an olfactory overture, especially the dried wood and musky nougatine that blended sweet and savory, providing the ideal segue into dinner.
Dinner table décor from Lewis Miller furthered the oversaturated theme with a bounty of greens and textures bleeding off the walls, contrasting the dim lights and grand candelabra as luminous as the conversations. After the first course, Veronica Bulgari, resplendent in an amethyst, gold and diamond necklace from the brand’s new collection, spoke briefly about the scent before introducing the perfumer Olivier Polge. “Jasmine has an enveloping aura of femininity but never overwhelms the woman wearing it,” Bulgari said. The scent is ” mysterious, sensual and elegant without being overly aggressive.” The three-course meal concluded with custom confections from Audrey Dettmar of Home Run Ballerina integrating the fragrance’s notes and a gift bag containing the scent of the evening.
Tea at Tiffany’s
These yummy cupcakes might have been a little too decadent for breakfast and so I decided to have Tea at Tiffany’s instead I’d been dreaming about making some chocolate cupcakes with this beautiful blue-coloured frosting – this is another way of giving yourself an awesome Robin-Blue treat at a fraction of the cost! You may not be able to wear it around your neck but it’ll sure make you feel like a million bucks! [I just had an idea to make a cupcake ring!! hmmm… maybe next time ]
I don’t know about you but I absolutely LOVE cupcakes with cream cheese frosting cos it’s a little tangy and sweet at the same time unlike buttercream that’s just WAY to sweet sometimes. Also cream cheese frosting sounds healthier than buttercream frosting. note: it only SOUNDS healthier. I had a little mishap during baking and 2 of my cupcakes ‘boiled’ over its casing but it was no biggie – the cupcake’s still goooood. These would have been quite good for a Halloween theme – give the cupcake a design and maybe fill the spillage with RED icing – a bleeding cupcake. Well that’s for another time
Mixer with paddle attachment
2 large mixing bowls
2 medium bowls
Ice Cream Scoop
Cupcake/ Souffle Cases (I used the souffle cases which won’t flatten out during baking. If these are not available use regular cupcake cases and use a muffin tray instead of a baking tray)
1 large disposable piping bag
1 closed star piping tip
1½ cups plain flour
½ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
A generous pinch of salt
120g unsalted butter
1⅓ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 cup soy milk³ (You can use regular milk, but I used soy milk cos I’m lactose intolerant )
Robin Blue Cream Cheese Frosting
227g cream cheese (1 block of Philadelphia cream cheese – it does seem like Philadelphia’s got a monopoly in the cream cheese market)
120g unsalted butter, at room temp
3 – 3¾ cups of icing sugar (sifted)
½ tsp of lemon zest
1-2 tsp of lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla essence
7 – 8 drops of sky blue paste food colouring
Some tiny white sugar flowers (for decoration)
Makes 12 cupcakes
For Chocolate Cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Place souffle cases on baking tray/ Line muffin tray with cupcake cases.
3. Sift plain flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
4. Beat butter and caster sugar in the mixer using paddle attachment until light and creamy.
5. Beat in eggs and vanilla essence until well combined.
6. Next, alternate additions of the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture ending with the flour mixture. Gently fold in the last addition of flour mixture using a spatula.
7. Using an ice cream scoop², scoop the cupcake mixture into the souffle cases/ cases in the muffin tray. Filing only ½ the souffle cases or cupcake cases (or you might have the same ‘boiled-over’ situation that i mentioned above.
8. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer stuck in the cupcake comes out clean.
9. Set aside to cool and decorate as desired.
For Robin Blue Cream Cheese Frosting:
1. Beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined.
2. Add the icing sugar (add 3 cups first and taste as you go along, add more if needed) and beat until well combined. [The mixture will look slightly translucent.]
3. Add the vanilla essence, lemon zest and lemon juice (taste as you go along, add more if needed) and mix well.
4. Add the sky blue paste colouring drop by drop and mix with a spatula after each drop until desired colour is achieved.4
1. Prepare piping bag by cutting off the tip of the piping bag and push the piping bag through the opening.
2. Twist the bag several times at the end of the tip to prevent frosting from oozing out of the bag when you first add it to the bag.
3. Drape the piping bag over a glass (with the piping tip inside the glass).
4. Place all the frosting in the piping bag.
5. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcake, starting from the edge of the cupcake and swirling the frosting all around to the middle of the cupcake.
6. Finish off with a sprinkling of white sugar flowers.
¹ A pastry chef once told me she measures all her ingredients on a weighing scale and I thought she was crazy. But now, I totally understand what she means – in baking you need to be absolutely precise with your measurements and a weighing scale helps you achieve that precision.
² It’s a good idea to use an ice cream scoop, so you can measure the amount of batter you use by ‘scoops’.
³ The soy milk doesn’t quite affect the taste of the cupcakes – it’s still just as moist and rich
4 If the frosting looks a little too fluid after mixing, place the frosting in the fridge for about 15 minutes to give it some structure.
So far, this image of a translucent “Spirit of Ecstacy” hood ornament is all that Rolls-Royce has revealed of the 102EX experimental car.
By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writerFebruary 21, 2011: 12:13 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Rolls-Royce has always gone hand-in-hand with “green,” just not the environmental kind. But now, earth-conscious millionaires wanting to cruise in luxury may be intrigued by an all-electric Rolls-Royce Phantom to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on March 1st.
So far, there are no plans to produce the 102EX, as it’s called, for consumers. This will be strictly an experimental car, Rolls-Royce said.
The car will be used to research range and performance as well as to gauge public reaction to the whole idea of an electric Rolls-Royce, the automaker said.
“I must be convinced that any alternative drive-train we choose for the future delivers an authentic Rolls-Royce experience,” Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös said in an announcement. The gasoline-powered Rolls-Royce Phantom production car is an extremely large, heavy and expensive automobile. With a base price of $380,000, the standard gasoline-powered Phantom weighs a little over 5,500 pounds — almost as much as a Chevrolet Tahoe full-sized SUV — and is powered by a 453-horsepower 6.8-liter V12 engine. It gets 11 miles per gallon in city driving and about 18 on the highway, according to EPA estimates. Among the Phantom’s available options are a back seat refrigerator with a matched set of crystal tumblers and a crystal decanter. The car also comes with large silver and wood tray tables for the use of back seat passengers and silver-handled umbrellas that are stored in special drying compartments accessible as the back doors are opened. It’s not clear, yet, if the 102EX would have the full compliment of Rolls-Royce luxury accessories. Full details and specifications of the 102EX will be announced on March 1st, Rolls-Royce said. Rolls-Royce is a subsidiary of the German luxury carmaker BMW, which also owns the British compact car brand Mini. Both BMW and Mini have previously launched experimental fleets of electric cars. BMW also announced Monday that it is launching an electric car subsidiary called BMWi. The new subsidiary will launch in 2013 with two vehicles, the BMW i3, a small “city car,” and the BMW i8, a high-performance plug-in hybrid car. Both cars will have bodies made from aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, BMW said.The automaker also set up a New York-based venture capital fund, BMW i Ventures, with an initial $100 million investment. BMW i Ventures will seek out technology partners for BMW, the automaker said.
by Susan Kime
The Luxury Institute conducts independent research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. Their white papers on luxury trends and consumer attitude change emerge consistently throughout the year. The most recent was published on October 10, 2011, on emerging luxury trends for 2011..
The Institute states, ” As the luxury industry enters the last quarter of 2010 and prepares for 2011, executives are grateful for what could have been a worse year considering the state of the world’s economy. The truly global top-tier luxury brands are surging in China, while holding their own in the US, Japan, and Europe. Leading public companies have done much better than privately-owned brands by using their heritage, innovation, and resources to gain market share. Many family-owned European brands, rich with history but lacking innovation, have suffered and are desperately looking for capital. Overall, the industry has seen tepid growth; this trend is likely to continue for the next three years unless some unforeseen, and highly unlikely, positive event occurs and saves the global economy.”According to the Luxury Institute, here are some trends that have emerged in 2010 and should continue in 2011:
1. A Deepening Focus on Brand Values and Service Values
In his recent book on luxury strategy, Jean-Noel Kapferer stated that unlike mass consumer brands, luxury firms don’t need a brand positioning (e.g. Hertz: #1 in Rent-a- Car , Avis: We try Harder), but they do need an identity. The Luxury Institute states, “Brands must create their identities not only by the name, personality and style of the founder, but also through values by which they should be known and publicly judged. They can be one comprehensive set of brand values that establish the company personality while also acting as service values which define the customer experience.” Brands can also choose to develop two distinct but related sets of brand values and service values. In a recent Luxury Institute LCRMA (Luxury CRM Association) survey, 90% of luxury executives agreed that luxury culture and values are directly linked to positive financial results. .
2. Luxury Brands Purge its Out-of-Touch, Arrogant Staffs
“As top-tier luxury CEOs and their Boards discover the importance of a benevolent culture and values,” the Luxury Alliance states, ” they are also beginning to realize that the people who manage and deliver customer experiences must fit the new customer culture In the sales and customer-facing ranks, people will soon be selected on their abilities to be brand and product experts, earn trust and build lasting customer relationships. Lone Ranger, toxic sales professionals who are currently tolerated will soon be out of fashion. Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Lexus and Nordstrom have been doing this for years, but even they will have to move to a higher level of cultural relevance and practice, as companies like Zappos prove that there is far higher ground to reach in terms of selecting customer-centric people, living the values and transparency.”
One senior luxury executive recently told the Luxury Institute that “It’s a dark day for luxury when Zappos delivers a far better luxury experience than any luxury brand”. As luxury retailers learn to leverage the Internet for e-commerce, they are also learning that one thing affluent consumers expect from their online experience, if the need arises, is the availability and opportunity for quick, easy and immediate direct communication. In a recent Luxury Institute WealthSurvey, 62% of affluent consumers stated that when shopping online they feel more comfortable if they can call someone directly for assistance, and 60% said they are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find quick answers to their questions on the website. In addition, 45% expect an obvious phone number to speak with a live sales or customer service representative. While luxury struggles with the answer, Zappos has beat them to it and gained the high ground. The secret that Zappos has learned is that only a small percentage of people need this call service very often. Look for most luxury brands to understand the connection between the call center and online channels and create a far better experience for customers in 2011.
4. Clienteling Goes from a Hobby to a Discipline
In a recent Luxury CRM Association Clienteling survey, only 25% of affluent consumers reported that they have a relationship with a sales associate at a luxury brand. That was actually a high water mark, as other surveys that Luxury Institute partners have conducted indicate that only 8-15% of customers report having a relationship with a sales associate at top luxury retailers. Why is this important? Because this small group of luxury consumers give a retailer almost twice as much in wallet share. They also are likely to continue buying more over time if they have a relationship with a dedicated sales professional.
5. Luxury Mobile Applications Come of Age
Top luxury brands now well into a few years of e-commerce, and having finally ventured into social media, are determined not to miss the soon-to-explode mobile device shopping party. Luxury Institute research on the wealthy consumer use of mobile devices shows that 76% compare prices via mobile devices, while a rapidly growing 27% have purchased via a mobile device. In addition, 21% report that they use mobile devices to look up respective product information while shopping in stores. We are near a tipping point where mobile devices will replace the laptop for many activities and transactions and luxury brands are racing to be a step ahead for a change. Tiffany‘s recently-launched mobile application for finding your perfect engagement ring is a good example of a simple and practical innovation that seeks to serve its customers.
6.Luxury Equips Sales Professionals with In-Store Mobile Devices
Luxury is about to begin testing equipping its sales professionals with mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones in its stores. They can also be used to take customers through rich sales presentations that include video and audio enhancers. They can be used to search out-of-stock inventory anywhere in the retail system, conduct an online transaction, and arrange for delivery in real time. As customers opt in to having their own mobile devices announce their arrival at the store, sales professionals can be alerted to greet customers by name with custom offers ready, or at minimum be aware of what offers have already been sent to them. These applications are only the beginning of the use of mobile in stores as a customer experience enhancer for the sales professional as well as the customer. Mobile devices combine personalization efficiency and effectiveness with an unprecedented touch of caring and nurturing that are the Holy Grail of a true luxury experience.
A Recap: 6 Trends That Defined Luxury in 2010
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (TheStreet) — Despite being on the tail end of the worst recession in modern history, 2010 proved a winner for a few select hotels, restaurants and nightclubs whose business models and practices allowed them to rise to the occasion.
Microchain boutique hotels
After beginning as a hipster-granola hotel concept in the Pacific Northwest, Ace Hotels has spread across the United States with a celebrity-studded outpost in New York and destination resort in the California desert.
The bathrooms on Emirates’ 15 Airbus A380s go beyond luxurious in first class. The airline has become the first and only to offer in-flight showers.
The realization that artists on a budget need stylish and comfortable rooms too has evolved into bohemian enclaves that in New York include a Michelin one-star eatery by the creators of the Spotted Pig. Their gastropub eatery is just as popular with city folk as it is with hotel visitors.
In Palm Springs, Ace has brought a Dash Snow sensibility to the destination pool party, with celebrity jam sessions and indie DJs recruited from LA to spin lazy Sunday afternoons by a pool stewing with tattooed rock stars and models on winter break from the Milan-Paris-Tokyo-Ibiza circuit.
They’ve been a staple of London social life since the advent of the Groucho Club and Soho House, the latter migrating through Berlin and New York before sweeping across the United States this year. The membership club concept thrives most notably in Los Angeles, where Nick Jones’ Soho House has essentially a monopoly on celebrity dining and nightlife from its penthouse West Hollywood location along the Sunset Strip.
Potential members scour their circle of friends for sponsors only to line up for a multimonth waiting list from which only a connected few at a time are selected to join.
November saw the opening of Soho Beach House in Miami, which includes a hotel that was the party site du jour at Art Basel 2010. Meanwhile, Miami’s perennial Casa Tua was set to expand to Aspen, where the Caribou Club has long had a stranglehold on the billionaire and ski bunny set.
Are you a friend of Andre Saraiva?
He seems to be everywhere these days. In Paris his Le Baron nightclub is the fashion stalwart of local nightlife, while the Hotel Amour he co-owns has become the most fashionable address for one-name artists and celebrity designers. Ditto for Japan, where Le Baron is the hottest club in Tokyo.
In United States, Saraiva has the Boom Boom Room and Le Bain atop the Standard New York and plans for a nightclub in Chinatown. Pop-up installments of Saraiva’s nightclubs are the “it” events at the Cannes Film Festival and Art Basel, where he was essentially handed the keys to Delano’s famous Florida Room for the past two year.
In St. Tropez he’s transformed the once derelict Hotel Ermitage into a bastion of cool on the scale of LA’s Chateau Marmont, but with a French accent.
Saraiva, only 38 and already the new Ian Schrager, is the man of the moment, the coolest guy in town — any town.
Let’s make a deal
It wasn’t long ago that the name Gilt Groupe was barely pronounceable to the average Internet consumers, let alone recognized as a discount retailer specializing in deals for high-fashion goods for subscribers. This year Gilt launched its JetSetter travel deals, offering cut rates at selected hotels that range from quirky boutiques to the best luxury addresses in Paris.
The formula has brought competition from such players as Tablet Hotels, Design Hotels and Leading Hotels of the World that now allows even the high end of the travel market to scout out a deal without embarrassment. Drawbacks include a not always stellar selection with prenegotiated availability and, often, required prepayments. The endless emails for affiliated and launching products also detract from the experience of a once exclusive membership now open to pretty much anyone.
Shower before landing
The advent of the French Airbus A380 has allowed a creative interpretation of the traditional first class flying experience, and Emirates, with its impressive 15 of the craft, offers the most luxurious and over-the-top configuration: It has become the first and only airline in operation to offer in-flight showers.
Emirates’ Private Suites, touted by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City 2, are equipped with sliding doors and minibars of almost full-size premium goodies. There’s also two shower spas at the front of the first-class area — complete with Bulgari bath products and fluffy Italian linens — offering a burlwood boudoir that’s become the hottest amenity in the aviation industry.
Celebrity chefs, the latest must-have amenity for new hotels, are a sure-fire way to keep guest dollars in house as well as a burgeoning business for hoteliers looking to divest real estate during tough times. This year has seen the debut of Daniel Boloud’s DB Bistro Modern at the new JW Marriott Marquis Miami, J&G Steakhouse by Jean-George Vongerichten at St. Regis Deer Valley, the highly touted WP24 by Wolfgang Puck at the Ritz Carlton at LA Live and Michelle Bernstein at the Omphoy in Palm Beach.
Pierre Gagnaire seems to be in front of the trend, conquering the globe with a new Reflets eatery in Dubai, a two-star Michelin-rated restaurant at Les Airelles in Courchevel and an outpost at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas. With no shortage of celebrity chefs, Vegas is also welcoming Scott Contant’s Scarpetta and Jose Andres’ Jaleo, which just opened at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.
Look for even bigger chef names to debut next year. The world’s most heralded chef, Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck, given three stars by Michelin, will debut a concept eatery at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London that already has its own Bar Boulud in the basement.
Wiped out from shopping yet? I’m not 🙂 Hope you snagged some amazing deals on Black Friday! You also have a chance to do some damage on Cyber Monday – here’s another list of great sales and promo codes for tomorrow:
ARDEN B. 20% off entire site, plus free shipping over $25
ASPINAL OF LONDON 20% off $185 or more with code CYBMN29
BEAUTYTICKET.COM 30% off with code CYBER30
BEBE 20% off, plus free shipping
CHARLOTTE RUSSE 25-50% off everything, plus free shipping and free sparkly compact with orders of $35 or more
EDDIE BAUER 30% off, plus free shipping with code CYBERDAY
FINISH LINE $10 off $60 or more with code RG2010
ICE.COM Up to 80% off jewelry, plus free shipping with code SCM10
KOHL’S Extra 10% off $100 or more with code JINGLE
LORD & TAYLOR 25% off site wide with code CYBER
MACY’S Specials, plus free shipping on $75 or more with code CYBER
RICH & SKINNY 30% off full priced items with CYBER2010
SHOES.COM 20% off, plus free shipping with code CYBER
SHOEMALL.COM 25% off $25, plus free shipping with code MONDAY25
SHOPBOP Up to $500 off your order with code BIGEVENT
WET SEAL 20% off entire site
Luxury is no longer the sole province of the elite. Upscale goods and services now target a much broader market. Kimberly Castro, deputy business editor of U.S.News & World Report, takes a look at the luxe life, from fine wines and cars to high-end real estate and wealth management. Though no elitist, Kim does admit a fondness for a bold bottle of Scout’s Honor from Venge Vineyards and satiating her wanderlust in Europe.
Cyber-Monday: Deals on Luxury Goods
If you’re like me, you avoided the out-of-control mob of feverish shoppers at retailers on Black Friday. You may have decided to wait for discounts today, otherwise known as Cyber-Monday, the unofficial kickoff to the online retail season. You may be shopping from the comfort of your own home or “taking a break” at work; either way, online retailers see today as yet another opportunity to attract consumers with more promotions.
When you think of great deals, retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy may come to mind. But deep discounts abound on luxury goods, and you can save as much as 40 to 70 percent on men’s and women’s designer apparel, shoes, and handbags from the likes of luxury retailers Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Here are more online sales to satiate your holiday shopping needs:
- The iconic British luxury house Burberry is offering up to 50 percent off on its classic looks, from women’s wool coats and men’s cashmere sweaters to belts and scarves.
- High-end carpet and rug emporium ABC Carpet is featuring up to 75 percent off its exclusive designer collections.
- Bergdorf Goodman, owned by Neiman Marcus, is offering up to 50 percent off on its designer collections, shoes, and handbags. You can also receive free shipping with any purchase.
- Spend $25 or more at beauty retailer Sephora, and you’ll get free shipping.
- If your calendar is chock-full of holiday events, online retailer Bluefly is offering up to 40 percent off on party dresses, including the Nicole Miller, Vera Wang, and Laundry labels.
- At Barneys, Christian Louboutin’s Sigourney ankle boots, originally priced at $1,030, now go for $615 at the Barneys website.
- Enjoy up to 50 percent off of Fendi, Marc Jacobs, and Jimmy Choo goods at online luxury fashion retailer Net-a-porter.com.
- Free invite to RowNine for WalletPop readers
- 80%off all Eyewear
- Discounts Mulholland Leather
- Savings on timepieces and jewelry starting on Tuesday
Secret’s Out: Sample Sales Move Online
Daniela Busciglio still winces at the memory of shivering in line for hours to get into New York sample sales, then shoving her way through throngs of other shoppers looking for deals on designer clothes.
Dany Levy, DailyCandy’s founder and editorial director, left, and Eve Epstein choosing items to photograph for a sample sale.
“Who wants to go to sample sales with lines out the door and girls scratching to get in?” said Ms. Busciglio, 27, now a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Online, she said, “I can take my time and not have to worry about people getting up in my face.”
The private-sale sites — a misnomer because most of these so-called exclusive sites are open to anyone who signs up — have become a thriving corner of online commerce. Sites using the same “while supplies last” approach have sprung up recently to sell home furnishings, beauty products and travel packages.
The business model is simple: the sites buy mostly overstocked clothing and accessories from brand-name designers, then discount them deeply. Adrenaline-pumped shoppers rush to get the deals because the items are often gone in a few hours.
The sites try to recreate the rush of a warehouse sample sale, minus the trampling and shoving, but they borrow as much from the Home Shopping Network as they do from Saks Fifth Avenue. After shoppers add an item to their cart at Gilt, for example, they get a 10-minute countdown before they lose the item.
For Matthew Rodriguez, 29, a Web marketer and Gilt shopper, the sales turn shopping into a game. “Knowing the sales start every day at noon makes me really competitive to get an item before someone else gets it,” he said. He recently bought a pair of Clae white patent leather sneakers for $38 on Gilt. They can sell for as much as $135 in retail stores.
More mainstream retailers are also adopting the idea. Saks, for example, is holding 24-hour half-price sales on brands like Hervé Léger.
Others are using the idea for holiday promotions. On the Monday after Thanksgiving, a big online shopping day known as Cyber Monday, Ashford, which sells luxury brand watches, discounted a different watch every two hours on its site. Blue Nile, the jewelry site, is offering a different deal every day until Dec. 23.
By discounting one item at a time, the retailers attract bargain-seekers and avoid the deep discounting done storewide last year, thereby protecting their profit margins. By 3:10 p.m. on Cyber Monday, Blue Nile had sold out of a five-carat diamond bracelet, marked down to $3,950 from $5,300.
One of the buyers, Dan Stanley of Falls Church, Va., said that he had not heard of private sales before and that for four days, he had been shopping for a bracelet for his wife. He bought it on the spot. “The ‘one day’ caught my eye, and I wouldn’t have risked it,” Mr. Stanley said.
Private-sale sites are attracting brand-name investors. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm that backed Google and Amazon.com, invested on Wednesday in One Kings Lane, which sells home décor. Gilt Groupe raised $55 million from Matrix Partners and General Atlantic, and Rue La La’s parent company was recently acquired by GSI Commerce for $180 million.
The concept seems tailored to recessionary times. Any guilt that consumers feel over spending thousands of dollars on unnecessary items can be replaced by bragging rights for finding a killer bargain, like a $4,500 diamond necklace that was recently on sale for $2,250 at Gilt.
“We started this at the worst possible time and got traction right out of the box,” said Susan Feldman, a founder of One Kings Lane. People still want to shop, but in the privacy of their homes, she said. “They just don’t want to be seen walking down the street carrying a Bloomingdale’s or Barneys or Bergdorf bag.”
It works for the fashion industry, too, because as the economy slumped, stores deeply cut inventory, which left some designers with excess stock, depending on their production calendars. Some high-end brands view the sites as a place to unload inventory without sullying their image by having their merchandise appear on Overstock.com or on the racks at Filene’s Basement. The members-only Web sites also ensure that search engines will not locate and list the discounted products.
Juliska sells its full-price tableware, like a $625 stoneware soup tureen, at luxury department stores like Neiman Marcus. It sells off-season products on One Kings Lane, Gilt and Rue La La.
Selling those items at T. J. Maxx, as some of Juliska’s competitors do, “is suicide for a luxury brand,” said Dave Gooding, the company’s chief executive. “With flash sales, you have the beauty of it being a one-day sale that is done in a very quick, efficient, tastefully done way, as an alternative to your product sitting on a dusty shelf for six months.”
For shoppers, the sites provide a selection of items, akin to a boutique, so they do not have to wade through the thousands of items on bigger e-commerce sites.
Swirl, a private-sale site that went live on Nov. 19, is betting on the allure of a handpicked collection. It was started by DailyCandy, which publishes e-mail newsletters about fashionable activities in various cities.
The company’s reputation for pointing readers to up-and-coming designers will help differentiate its sample sale site, said Dany Levy, DailyCandy’s founder and editorial director. “They trust us, and they know we’ve done our homework,” she said.
But private-sale sites could run into trouble as manufacturers and stores cut back on inventory. “The universe of what’s overstock is not an infinite universe,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, an e-commerce analyst at Forrester.
To maintain their growth, many of the sites have recently expanded beyond high-end, overstocked apparel.
Ideeli sells spa and vacation packages in addition to clothes, and One Kings Lane has avoided clothes altogether. Gilt now sells gadgets, like a Tivoli radio and a Jawbone wireless headset, and offers products for men, children, the home and younger women with smaller budgets. Gilt also started a site called Jetsetter that sells travel deals, like a room at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris marked down to $500, from $795.
Susan Lyne, Gilt’s chief executive, said that as long as people coveted something, they would be eager for a deal. “Gilt and these other shopping sites allow people to do the thing that gives them pleasure, without all that guilt,” she said.