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Tiffany's gems of wisdom for fashion retail

Tiffany’s vice-president and managing director of UK and Ireland Barratt West gave delegates at the Drapers Fashion Forum an insight into how the luxury retailer’s personalised touch could be reworked for the fashion industry. 

Tiffany’s new Covent Garden concept store was seen as a risk, according to West, but sought to “take the brand forward to talk more as a next-generation luxury jeweller”. 

This is combined with a “sense of wit and irreverance” across its social media to speak to a contemporary customer. 

“Covent Garden is not a traditional place for luxury brands,” he conceded. “It was really seen as being, by some of our competitors, as crazy.” 

The concept store departs from a traditional jewellery store design and features polish concrete floors, a vending machine for its fragrances, and a personalisation station for engraving and embossing. 

The floor space is flexible for events, and in order to attract a younger more relaxed customer the jeweller hired an entire new team “with a more casual sense of their own style”, West said. 

When asked what Tiffany does well that the fashion industry could learn from, West said: ”Tiffany is quite different. The experience you get we hope is very welcoming, engaging and a brand for everybody. What we’ve been good at is recognising a long time ago the customer experience of greeting and engaging with customers.”

Despite being an experience brand, West said that customers had shown “almost no resistance” to its ecommerce site. 

“The UK ecommerce site is our biggest store in Europe, that has been a surprise,” he said. “It allows up to open up more of England and Scotland that we wouldn’t otherwise reach.”

However, in order to maintain the personalised in-store experience, items such as Tiffany’s iconic solitaire diamond rings are not available to purchase online. 

West said: ”You can view them, but you can’t buy because we believe you should have an experience around that.” 

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