With the changing economy, has luxury changed, in your opinion?
I think what happened in the last year is going to alter consumer behaviour for a long time. Not only in America, but in Europe and Asia as well. The consequences of the loss of wealth are not all in yet, and the impact has yet to be completely absorbed. The consumer will be there, but he will not be wasting money. Living on credits is over. Consumers will be more conscious about the price they pay for fashion. We will see the return of common sense in consumer behaviour. In fact, common sense is rule number two in our company right after attitude!
Common sense drives our company. We always take it into consideration in every decision: our take on product, pricing policies, international expansion, store development…everything!
Fashion is about adapting and evolving and the day the world was affected by such a catastrophic economic downturn. You cannot give the cold shoulder and pretend that everything is fine, you have to react fast and adapt to what is happening around you. This is the key of success.
While travelling, do you notice a difference between how various countries express luxury?
More so in the past. Back in the days, fashion used to be dictated by designers, and every region had its own popular designers. Nowadays, trend is dictated by celebrities, musicians and pop icons. Star-worship and the rise of the celebrity as “god and goddess” is revolutionizing fashion and decreasing the regional gap of consumers taste around the world.
Guess and Guess by Marciano are sold worldwide. How do you cater to customers in different regions?
As I mentioned earlier the regional gap in what the consumer wants is decreasing globally, but we do need to address different climates, cultures and consumer demands. At Guess we address these needs not only at the design level, but also in the editing process of the line. Our global regional merchandisers and business owners edit the line so that it can address each market’s cultural individuality in a way that respects the core collection, spirit and brand integrity.
We know that you are very passionate about design, photography, modern art, etc. What are you latest discoveries or collaborations in these art forms?
Lately, I have been very inspired by architecture, mainly because of my many business trips around the world and the privilege of seeing amazing buildings and architectural masterpieces. I am very excited to collaborate with an architect whose work I admire a lot, Anthony Béchu. We will collaborate on our new headquarters in Paris. He has a talent of bringing modernity to historic buildings. The mix of this is simply perfect!
Every season, you come up with striking, beautiful photography for the campaigns. What is the role of image for Guess? Are there other media that you use to promote the brand?
Season after season, for 29 years, GUESS has brought to its consumers worldwide a consistent image of what the brand is and what the brand stands for. Guess is about being young, sexy and adventurous. Whether I choose to shoot in color or black and white, or collaborate with different photographers for different campaigns, the key to our success is that we know who we are and we won’t walk away from it.
Although we invest in some exposure on the internet or public relations activities, my favorite form of advertising is still print and outdoor advertising. There is no other form of advertising that can replace the impact of a wonderful billboard in a strategic location or a beautiful spread in a key magazine.
On a more personal note, where do you vacation when you’re not traveling for work?
Well, I don’t have much time for vacation, but when I do, my two favourite places are Tahiti and the south of France, specifically St. Tropez. I love the ocean and the beach, where I truly can relax and recharge my batteries.
What are some of your favourite things to wear during your travels around the world?
When I travel I like to stay comfortable and this is why I never wear suits. I normally wear Guess jeans and our beautiful and comfortable v-neck sweaters from our contemporary line, Guess by Marciano. For shoes, I always wear Tod’s because they are understated and comfortable.
If you had to pick some hotels or restaurants for our Luxos London readers, what places would you recommend?
I would recommend Browns Hotel in London.
Where do you see Guess going in the future?
Guess is here to stay! In the past 29 years, Guess has created its unique presence in the fashion platform and it has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world. We are now present in more than 80 countries, and in the next 25 years we will keep expanding and growing stronger. For 2010 we are planning to open over 200 new stores in France, Spain, UK, and Germany. The key focus of opening strategic flagship locations is to continue to elevate the brand and provide brand visibility.
Paul Marciano of Guess
For a list of Guess boutiques, click here.