21 November 2018
While there appears to be a demarcation line between the fashion and jewellery industries, they are more often than not intertwined. According to industry experts, both sectors stand to learn from each other when it comes to new business and marketing strategies, and targeting today’s consumers.
The fashion industry’s lightning-quick ability to adapt to changes is undeniable. Over the years, it has successfully embraced the digital culture and responded effectively to new consumer behaviours by innovating its marketing and communications strategies. What can the jewellery industry learn from the fashion world and vice-versa? Industry experts – renowned luxury trends forecaster Paola de Luca and high-profile jewellery buyer and fashionista Lauren Kulchinsky-Levison – share their viewpoints on the matter.
JNA: What differentiates the jewellery sector from the fashion industry and how can they learn from each other?
Paola de Luca: The difference lies in the mindset and consumer engagement. The jewellery industry has always been close-minded – thinking in terms of grams, gemstones and carats, and so on. Having a broader perspective is crucial. What the fashion industry is doing so well is trying to understand, through observation and listening, the consumer’s lifestyle. Take sneakers, for example. Sneakers are comfortable but not quite elegant. Overtime, the fashion industry has reinvented sneakers and come up with more sophisticated designs including those with high heels to cater to women who wanted to appear taller. It’s all about understanding what the consumers want and how to communicate
The jewellery industry, for the most part, is not adapting to or embracing this new culture. But it is a paradigm of professionalism. The jewellery business is all about competence. Many jewellery professionals are true craftsmen, and brands often pass their skills from generation to generation. Heritage and history have real value in the jewellery world as well as developing products that are made to last. These values have been adopted more and more by the fashion industry. Mass production of disposable fashion is no longer acceptable, and professionalism and creating better and lasting products are becoming the new normal. In the last couple of years, fashion has also adopted many elements from the jewellery industry including a hybrid sense for aesthetics and more bejewelled garments. We live in an era of change; a moment where two worlds are blending – fashionable jewellery and bejewelled fashion.
Lauren Kulchinsky-Levison: The first thing we have to do is to stop distinguishing fashion from jewellery as both are meant to enhance natural beauty. People still have this fixed idea that jewellery is something that needs to be given or received while they spend US$20,000 on an accessory like a Hermès bag. I love receiving jewellery as a gift of love however it’s time to stop differentiating it from fashion. Jewellery pieces, just like fashionable items, are meant to adorn yourself with to complete your look. We strive to create a world where consumers see jewellery and fashion as one.
We also tend to forget who our competition is. Jewellery retailers and brands should recognise that department stores or online shops that sell jewellery pieces are not the competition. In actuality, we compete with other luxury businesses. Lucky for us in the jewellery industry though, we still play an essential role in helping consumers celebrate crucial moments in their lives such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and graduations, among others.
JNA: How can jewellery retailers and brands stay relevant in these challenging times?
De Luca: Some companies, new and independent jewellery designers in particular, are already taking into account growth possibilities brought about by digitalisation. People should realise that culture is not only confined to a country; there are local cultures to be discovered as well. Often, these become more pronounced in online communities. Millennials and Gen Z consumers are highly familiar with modern technology and use online platforms and communities to share information, engage with other people and educate themselves. They even use these digital circles to sell or buy their products. Their buying behaviour is often influenced by the online world. There are enough brands and products in the world – more than we need – but what consumers want are brands and products that are meaningful to them. Communication is also a key factor. Communicators such as bloggers and influencers, who are consistent, competent and professional, are here to stay. The same goes for brands and retailers.
Kulchinsky-Levison: There is an obvious overlap between the jewellery and fashion industries. If you are in the jewellery business, you ought to know what kind of necklines, arm lines and hemlines are going to be in during the coming season. Our company, Mayfair Rocks, has been in the business for over 35 years, and we think paying attention to fashion is crucial to our jewellery business. For instance, tassels, rings and earrings are now highly sought after. The fashion sector’s influence over the jewellery business is indisputable.
JNA: How can jewellery companies market their products more effectively?
De Luca: Come up with lots of new ideas, whether you are a brand, retailer, wholesaler or manufacturer of non-branded jewellery. Selling ideas is more important than selling products. My advice is not to focus solely on a great product but also have a good curator and great merchandiser who can effectively present the idea and the concept to clients.
The better you present the product, the more you will save time and money for your customer as a value-added service. Today, it is all about adding value to whatever you are doing. Luxury is about an idea, a dream and upselling. Even if you are a manufacturer, you have to keep this in mind and present your product accordingly.
Kulchinsky-Levison: We are all about customer engagement and offering the best possible kind of personalised service. Buyers can try jewellery pieces with their outfits at our store, especially if it’s for a wedding or other special events. We also have a service where we go to our client’s home and with their permission, go through their wardrobe and jewellery box. A great deal of women buy the same thing over and over again, and we advise them about what could be updated or altered, and what they need to complete their wardrobe. Women should shop their closets more often; they probably own so much already. We should change the way we approach the consumer; know how and where to reach them; add value to the services that we currently have; and consistently come up with fresh marketing ideas.
About the interviewees:
Paola de Luca is the founder of The Futurist Ltd. She also co-founded TRENDVISION Jewellery + Forecasting, VICENZAORO’s independent trend forecasting and research observatory specialising in the jewellery, watch, diamond and luxury sectors.
Lauren Kulchinsky-Levison is the chief style officer and curator of collections at Mayfair Rocks jewellery store in East Hampton, New York. A style icon in her own right, she has landed on many best-dressed lists in the social media realm and earned various accolades in the fashion front, most recently as one of the best-dressed jewellers