Victoria Beckham is reducing the average selling price of her dresses by almost 40% by switching to simpler silhouettes and fewer embellished fabrics, in a move that points to how the fashion industry may adapt to the disruptions to lifestyle and budget caused by the pandemic.
Marie Leblanc, the CEO of the label, said the changes were necessary to “future-proof” the brand, which has yet to turn a profit despite being one of the most high-profile names in British fashion for the past decade.
When demand for party dresses evaporated during lockdown, sales of knitwear, sunglasses and Beckham’s “athleisure” collaboration with Reebok became a lifeline. The brand is emerging from the pandemic with a new lo-fi aesthetic, and lower prices to match.
“Right now feels a bit like that moment after you’ve had a baby, and you can’t remember what you wore before you were pregnant,” said Beckham at this week’s launch of her new collection, shown in individual appointments at her London flagship store.
She added: “When I was pregnant with [daughter] Harper I wore very different clothes, and after she was born it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to wear. Coming out of the pandemic feels a bit like that. I really embraced a more relaxed way of dressing during lockdown, and that changes what I want to wear now.”
Leblanc said: “We are going to come out of this time with a hybrid lifestyle. Maybe you don’t have to dress up so much to take a meeting.”
Beckham and Leblanc said they hoped the new pricing structure would boost the bottom line by broadening their customer base.
Last year, the British luxury brand Mulberry slashed prices in some Asian markets by 20%. The announcement was couched in terms of aligning international prices, but seen as a lever to boost sales at a challenging time.
Consumer confidence remains fragile, and the rise of resale and renting models for designer fashion is offering label-conscious shoppers a more affordable alternative to Bond Street’s punchy price tags.
“Our customer is smart, she wants value for money,” said Leblanc.
Beckham, dressed in pinstripe tailored trousers and a cashmere rollneck with white high heels, said she drew the line at the word comfort, adding: “I don’t like that word. It doesn’t feel elevated, to me. But I do like an elegant jersey dress which is soft to wear but has a beautiful silhouette.”
Highlights of the collection include spaghetti-strap slip dresses with a 1990s-supermodel-at-an-after-party glamour, and oversized knits in saturated butter yellow and bubblegum pink.
“The other day I was packing for a trip to New York, and I pulled out the pieces I would normally take – midi-length skirts and pussy-bow blouses – and they didn’t feel right at all. I wore denim and tailoring instead,” she said.
Victoria and David Beckham divide their time between London and Miami in the US. Their 18-year-old son, Romeo, moved to Florida full-time to train with Inter Miami football club, the team David co-owns, in the hope of joining it. “Selfishly, I’d love it if all my kids would stay in London, but I’m pleased that they are ambitious,” Victoria said. “Anyway, I was on a world tour when I was Romeo’s age.”
She said she remained committed to London fashion week, where she intended to hold a small-scale presentation in September.
“People are going to be very aware of social distancing for a while to come, and that’s something to be respected. I don’t think anyone wants hustle and bustle at this point.”