Looking to the Next Decade of Change: A Recap of the 10th Annual Retail & Luxury Goods Conference

On the evening of Saturday, February 22, 2014 and all day Sunday, February 23, 2014, the Retail & Luxury Goods Club hosted a record number of nearly 400 students and professionals from Harvard and the surrounding community for its tenth annual Retail and Luxury Goods Conference. The conference marked a decade of hosting business leaders and industry insiders and to celebrate the occasion was themed The Consumer Revolution: Redefining Retail and Luxury for the Next Decade.

The discussions at the conference covered topics that retailers are grappling with today in order to set themselves up for future long-term success and growth. Speakers from all walks of retail, from mass to luxury, brick-and-mortar to e-commerce, start-up to established brand, offered his or her unique view on how interacting with consumers has and will continue to change. From philosophical question such as “What is luxury?” to practical topics such as “How do you grow retail and brand across geographies and channels?” the responses were diverse and underscored how companies have developed tailored strategies based on their answers to these questions.

Representing distinct perspectives from retail and fashion, keynote speakers headlining the conference included Mr. William McComb, former Chief Executive Officer of Fifth & Pacific Co. (now Kate Spade Company); Ms. Julie Bornstein, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Digital Officer of Sephora, Inc.; and Ms. Donna Karan, Founder RLGC2and Chief Designer of Donna Karan Co. All three speakers spoke about the winding routes they took to get to the C-Suite and reinforced the need for students to follow their passions and stay true to themselves in order to forge meaningful relationships in a people-driven industry and find success.

This year was also marked by a special roundtable discussion with seasoned entrepreneurs Aslaug Mangusdottir, Co-Founder of Moda Operandi, Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas, Co- Founders of Caudalie, and Steven Alan, RLGC1Founder and Chief Designer of Steven Alan Showroom and The Steven Alan Collection. Moderated by Professor Tom Eisenmann, the founders reminisced about the early days of their businesses and discussed the tough decisions they faced in order to build internationally recognized and beloved brands.

The networking events organized around lunch and a cocktail reception offered attendees an opportunity to interact with the speakers in depth. Overheard were several sound bites of attendees asking for career advice or debating about the future direction of the retail industry.

As the day concluded, the conference ended in celebration of the club’s past decade and a look towards how retail and luxury goods as well as the club will continue to evolve.

-Gina Pak (MBA ‘15) Retail & Luxury Goods Club (RLGC) Director of Conference Marketing

(Photo credit: Jean Yang, Harbus News)

For more information on the conference check out:

Facebook: HBS Retail & Luxury Goods Club

Twitter: @HBSRLGC

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