V-Day became Me-Day this year. From lingerie, to flowers, to jewelry, brands were finally telling women that it’s ok to buy yourself that Valentine’s Day gift and celebrate “self-love.” Now if you’re read anything I’ve written, you know I’m fully supportive of this idea. The only problem is that as women, we’re already about ten steps ahead of this message.
Interestingly, it was around this same time that Tiffany & Co. was top of mind after ousting both their design director, Francesca Amfitheatrof (the first female to hold this position and one that I quite frankly have a huge girl crush on!), and their CEO, Frederic Cumenal.
Everyone and their monkey has already reported on this and I’m sure you’ve read it (go here in case you haven’t). I won’t bore you by rehashing it, except to connect the dots: many are highlighting that perhaps Tiffany’s consistent decline in sales is partly due to the fact that the brand’s messaging has ignored the “self-purchasing woman” (see Racked’s apt commentary here).
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Tiffany and always have. Part of what made them the globally recognized brand that they are is the surprise and magic of receiving that little blue box. Classic ads mostly show a man offering a woman a piece of jewelry and her swooning. Sure they’ve added a version with a gay couple and have even launched a campaign of beautiful, young female starlets directed by legendary Vogue editor Grace Coddington. But this hasn’t made a strong enough statement and as many have posited, Tiffany just hasn’t evolved from the message that a woman needs to wait for a man to buy her jewelry to keep the attention of the woman who wants to put a ring on her own finger.
At the same time, there’s been a tsunami of young, female designers who’ve launched or revived their own strong, cheeky and unconventional jewelry lines targeted at the customer they know best: themselves. Some of my personal favorites include: Ana Khouri, Delfina Delettrez, Gaia Repossi, Sophie Bille Brahe, Charlotte Chesnais, Anissa Kermiche, Polly Wales, Alison Lou and many more. I’ll take a closer look at these gems later because they each deserve a spotlight.
Back to Tiffany though, there is a lot the iconic jeweler can learn from these modern brands. While these brands offer a core collection of classic pieces, they also make sure they layer on the trend driven pieces each season. They all offer some combination and variation on ear climbers, ring stacks, mismatched earrings, two finger rings, huggies, chokers, the list goes on…
As a woman shopping for myself, I know I can shop these brands season after season to update my fashion jewelry wardrobe. And when I might be in the market for something more classic and sentimental, they’re also top of mind.
On the other hand (pun intended), Tiffany’s assortment is driven almost exclusively by those classic pieces that are more suited as gifts rather than something you’d randomly splurge on for yourself. Amfitheatrof’s T collection was a modern addition to the collection, if not a bit played out after it was over merchandised.
The new Tiffany Hardwear collection with brand ambassador Lady Gaga seems like an attempt at more of a fashion offering. I do have a soft spot for high polish, minimal pieces and the link styles are definite standouts. It’s a start.
At times like these, the classic brand quandary is how to successfully evolve the brand enough to reach the desired target customer without alienating the loyal customer base (see J.C. Penney). In my view, I think Tiffany has more power than most brands that face this dilemma. Its classic designs will remain in the hearts of that loyal customer base, but at the same time they have the opportunity to take a chance on some real of the moment pieces. They’re not the trend leader anymore so they need to take notice of what’s happened in the market, adapt it, evolve it and market it effectively to those lapsed customers.
In the meantime, I have my eye on all of the trend pieces I want to update my spring wardrobe from that strong list of female powered brands. And I don’t have to plant little hints around my own house to get them…