Creating and running the first true luxury brand of the 21st century is not an easy feat. A global financial crisis has encompassed 6 years of the young century. Many aspirationally luxury consumers are still spending conservatively. Bravado and showmanship are qualities which have been unseen of late. Large global luxury holding companies, together, own most of the business and reap the rewards of scale. And the man behind the first true luxury brand of the 21st century has just welcomed a son to his family.
After a successful career with Yves St Laurent and Gucci, and a critically acclaimed movie, A Single Man, Tom Ford's return to fashion was well-considered, meticulous, and impeccable. Initially launching a well edited product mix of eyewear, fragrance and cosmetics, Mr. Ford once again displayed his keen attention to detail. His customers and retailers supported him, fighting to carry both the mens and women's collections upon launch. Now with 89 stores globally and counting, Tom Ford continues to be meticulous in the details, and understand what drives his customers.
"He knows his woman and that she dresses to kill." - Suzy Menkes for the New York Times on Tom Ford's Spring 2014 collection which was shown today in London (highlights below).
The Wall Street Journal released a great profile by Jason Gay which nicely illuminated what it is that allows Tom Ford to be successful. A few of our favorites are noted below. These are applicable to any merchant, retailer, buyer or designer.
PAYING ATTENTION TO HIS CUSTOMER:
- "We have customers—a lot of them—who spend more than a million dollars a year with us because they come in and just order: suit, suit, suit, suit, suit, suit," he says, snapping his fingers.
- Karen Katz, the CEO and president of Neiman Marcus, says that customers buying Tom Ford "tend to be people who are strong. They're confident. They're powerful. And I think buying the products just helps them with all that—being even more confident and stronger."
BALANCING CREATIVITY WITH BUSINESS:
- "There's always some sense that all designers tend to live in their own creative universe," De Sole says. "Tom can read a financial statement. He understands the practical aspect of the business. That's very important."
- "I'm really happy when I see my son in the morning. I'm also happy to walk in here to my office and see everyone working. I'm happy to have certain meetings. Then I'm not happy to have other ones." - Tom Ford
DISCIPLINE AND CONTROL:
- Ford says he gave up drinking four and a half years ago—"alcohol was getting in the way of my life, so I simply stopped," he says.