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Thursday, April 23, 2009

PART II of the Douglas Hannant Bridal Report – Company President, FREDERICK ANDERSON’s assessment on the luxury retail picture

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Interview: VGK and Richard Spiegel

We were fortunate to grab Frederick after the show for what we thought would be a 2-minute Q +A. To our delight, what resulted was an in-depth conversation, in which Mr. Anderson, gave us his frank assessment on where retail is at, what works and what doesn’t.

VGK/RS: We absolutely loved how Douglas showed only 12 looks this time, and 14 last time. Talk about editing!

FREDERICK ANDERSON: Yes, you have to edit yourself, no question.

VGK/RS: Where is DH Bridal selling?

FREDERICK: It’s at Mimi’s in New Orleans and we’re working with Kleinfelds too. Now, we’ve got inquiries from Spain about it.

VGK/RS: Who’s buying your bridal collection, and how are you pricing it at retail?

FREDERICK: Our client is not going to get married looking like a fairy princess. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look like a fairy princess, but that’s not what we’re doing here. Our client’s in her twenties to thirties and she’s looking for a little more design. We just had one who flew over from Ireland for a dress, word is getting out.
Gowns go from $2,800 – 9,000. The average price is between $3,000 – 6,000.

VGK/RS: It’s no secret that the social girls love you and Douglas. Was this line created for your regular RTW customers?

FREDERICK: Actually, this bridal show you just saw was not about social. With bridal, we’re expanding our brand. Our couture clients will call us if they’re getting married though.

VGK/RS: What else are you doing to expand the brand, it’s a process!

FREDERICK: We launched the INSIGNIA COLLECTION last season. It’s at Nordstrom’s, Lord & Taylor, and Bloomingdales’. It retails in the $500 – 900 range.

VGK/RS: What plans do you have in the future pertaining to your brand expansion?

FREDERICK: We’d like a freestanding store. It’s good it’s been a slow year so we can find where the holes are in the industry and we can come in and fill them. The editorial we’ve been getting has been out of control for us. We can’t keep the samples in the showroom. It’s great!

VGK/RS: A lot of people are saying that luxury is dead. What direction do you think luxury retailing is headed in?

FREDERICK: Joe Boitano at Saks recently said that it’s now about “a new level of sophistication”.

VGK/RS: You and Douglas are like Mr. Blass was – you spend lots of time with your customer; you really know her. What is the luxury customer’s biggest complaint?

FREDERICK: Our women want quality, they’re used to it, they live with it, and they know when it’s not there. They may pick up a cute girly thing that’s in the stores, but that’s it. The stores are not clued-in enough about the fact that what women want more than all else is quality when they come in to buy.

VGK/RS: Retail is slow in the USA, but as Kramer on CNBC says, “somewhere out there, there’s a bull market”. Where are things hot right now?

FREDERICK: At ALOthman in Kuwait. They just opened a huge store there. They have Parisian Couture, Oscar [de la Renta], Carolina [Herrera].

To hear our entire interview [raw and unedited] with Frederick, you can listen to the pod cast at the following address:

ENDNOTES: To get a better idea of the DH style esthetic, read his CFDA DESIGN STATEMENT
Douglas Hannant strikes a balance between modernism and romanticism with an ease that is decidedly American. He succeeds in juxtaposing sportswear and couture, day and evening with a youthful regard. Hannant’s designs are simple in shape but rich in fabrication and texture.

To learn more about the Douglas Hannant brand, visit the official website,
Image of Frederick Anderson,VGK
Runway images, courtesy of Douglas Hannant
Photos from the Saks Launch of the Insignia Collection, Matt Carasella,
Image of ALOthamn, from the official website,

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