I headed off to the Guess SS19 launch on Friday morning, my first fast-fashion event in over a year. Winter in Cape Town showed off for a change so it seemed prophetic that the collection was titled ‘Paradise’. The sentiment was further endorsed by an idyllic poolside venue nestled behind the luxurious One & Only hotel at the V&A Waterfront. On arrival, my guest Duncan Pape and I were met by A-List Communications PR exec Gaby Trathen and Guess marketing manager Carla Davis. Remember her name because the story gets juicy.
Glass of white wine in hand, (odd for 11am but no complaints), Duncan and I were lead into a sun-kissed, palm-fronded space, ie aforementioned paradise. A DJ in the corner pumped cool lounge beats as trays of mini eats sashayed by. We refrained from dining, happy with wine in paradise.
Take a long lazy look at what we saw.
Then it hit us. Right between the eyes. Florals, frills, and a powder blue bodycon. A bodycon! Paradise faded away.
Duncan and I gawked at each other, jaws dropping in unison as brows shot up. “What the hell?” he muttered. We gulped our wine simultaneously, hoping an empty glass would reveal the truth. “Maybe because its the year of the feminine”, I spluttered in reply. The wine stayed silent.
“Right”, I said as my eyes darted around the room. “Where’s that woman who offered to answer my questions? I have many.”
Carla Davis, (remember her from paragraph one?), oozed over in a sexy black lace number, hair sleeked back in what can only be described as uber hot. On hearing that I Had Questions, or maybe observing my steeled body language, her otherwise strikingly beautiful face took on the look of Bambi caught in headlights. “Perhaps I should call the buyer,” Carla offered out of fear / polite professionalism. Then disappeared before I could object.
She returned promptly with Yolandi, the buyer, in tow. The proverbial lamb to the slaughterhouse flaunted a chic bob and black floral kimono to elegant perfection. Damn, these Guess ladies were fine.
What is This!
“I’m not here for trends,” I explained by way of introduction. “I’m intrigued by the business of fashion. So I have to ask, What. Is. This!?” and waved my hand over the aforementioned florals and frills.
Without so much as flicking her perfect bob, Yolandi informed us that the brand has slowly and steadily been introducing the Marciano to South Africa. See this label as the slightly older but significantly, richer cousin. While Guess Denim is seen hanging out at the movies, on the beach or in clubs, Marciano is either working the boardroom, lounging on yachts or sipping cocktails at the polo club.
Who is the Guess shopper?
Research has shown the Guess brand to serve three target markets.
1. Gen Z, the under-20 set want to represent reality, feel relaxed and be unique. They put it all on show hence the acid washes, mini skirts, high top sneakers, combat boots, bling and studs.
2. Millennials are our second group, the ones we blame everything for. Now in their thirties, these shoppers have successfully merged sport and street cred with young adult responsibilities like careers and travel hence the popularity of athleisure. Millennials love the Guess brand because it modernised vintage and retro.
3. Heritage shoppers, the 40plus group, are the brand’s biggest spenders. They’ve been wearing Guess studded jackets and diamante belts since before Gen Z was born. They’re still committed to the brand but feel that high waisted hot pants and bikini tops can no longer live alone. The look needs a boho kaftan to cover some cheeky bits.
And this, my dear reader, is how we came to see florals and frills instead of only zips and studs at a Guess launch. Marciano is for the Heritage shopper; the sexy grown-up. By accommodating a third buying tier who are already brand loyal, Guess is automatically increasing their market share. Good business savvy dictates that you build on what you already have, and this brand is doing just that. Smart!
Carla and Yolandi both breathed visible sighs of relief when we nodded in understanding. Peace returned to paradise.
That was until Duncan dropped the V-bomb, “So, what are you doing for vegans?” Oi vay! We’ll leave that for October which is when Guess will be making a soft but powerful announcement.
Thank you to Wayne Jones and his marketing team at Guess SA for holding it together so well during our interrogation. You’re a stylish bunch.
Pop a comment below with your fave / least favourite look. I always love hearing from you.