Historically, the world of fine jewelry has been viewed as a members-only club that prided itself on being exclusive and restricting acceptance within its fortified boundaries to those with stature and heaps of money. Opening the doors to the masses, so to speak, is Flow, a new high jewelry e-commerce site joining the luxury lending movement that includes the Rent the Runway and Armarium fashion platforms. Founded by Cormac Kinney, the US company established a year ago not only aims to democratize the jewelry industry, but also strives to make it much more coveted in the digital age.
Fine jewelry is rare and usually very expensive, which is why wearing the real deal is a sure-fire way to display – read: display, or, for branding reasons in the United States, flaunt – your purchasing power. and his position in society. That said, it is clear that purchasing habits have changed. And while owning an eye-catching pearl necklace or set of diamond dangling earrings is always a status symbol, the younger generation has come to value experiences rather than accumulating items. In short: most would rather go to an exotic place and post about it on Instagram, rather than buy a new gold bracelet.
As the husband of jewelry designer Mimi So and former president of the jewelry brand in Richemont, Kinney, who calls himself “serial software guy; to the bone, a nerd ”- have seen firsthand how the traditional culture of retailing and spending has transformed. He is aware of the foot traffic in independent stores and how it is decreasing each year as consumers have started going online for their fashion purchases.
“The average age of customers for major jewelry brands is steadily increasing,” observes Kinney. “New millennial shoppers aren’t interested in jewelry because they don’t walk into those Madison Avenue stores like they used to. We have to bring them the jewelry.
Seeing the success of Rent the Runway and how women could discover new fashion brands through this type of platform, Kinney envisioned a way to deliver the same sense of wonder with fine jewelry, which is why Flont adopted the business model of try and buy. Because unlike clothes, buying beautiful pieces involves more deliberation, if only for the high prices. Women want to touch it and feel it before they commit. So, to make things more accessible, the site offers a subscription plan that allows customers to test a selection of products. “Jewelry is great for sharing,” Kinney said. “It’s expensive and long-lasting. Women much prefer to have variety rather than buying a single piece every two or three years.
By paying a monthly subscription of $ 299 (for a minimum of three months), anyone can become a member and borrow an unlimited number of pieces from a collection made up of both established and emerging brands – 40 in total. There is also free insurance and two-way FedEx delivery. Those who wish to forgo membership entirely, preferring a one-time transaction, can get an item on loan for four days from $ 129 to $ 329, depending on cost.
And to make sure everything available is up to the task, Kinney brought in Brooke Magnaghi, the former director of accessories and jewelry at W magazine, to be the creative director of the company and to manage an online space like no other. “There was a group of designers that I really wanted to work with,” she said. “We wanted it to be very special. It is real fine jewelry, handcrafted jewelry.
In addition to offering vintage and signed pieces from recognized names like Cartier, Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany & Co., Flont also has exclusive partnerships with Noor Fares, Deborah Pagani, Carla Amorim, Crow’s Nest, Mimi So and other captivating designers working in the industry today. The eclectic blend, priced from $ 2,500 to $ 10,000, appeals to diverse tastes and is as trendy as it is timeless. And if customers fall in love with the item and choose to keep it, a member-only discount is offered.
“We have proven that some of our customers buy the coins they borrow,” Kinney said. “Thus, we have become a viable sales channel. It’s not just rental and membership income, but sales income as well.
The company also has a concierge if a client needs style advice or wants to place a personalized order. And there’s a Members Lounge in New York City for those who want to pick up jewelry in person. For Flont, all of these features are aimed at making the online shopping process easier and making consumers understand that what they provide is a service, as opposed to a product.
“This concept is not new,” Kinney explained. “Look at the software. People don’t buy it anymore, they subscribe to it. A lot of people don’t buy cars anymore, they use Uber, Zip Car or rent them. No one buys computer servers anymore, they use Amazon, Google or Microsoft. Everything we used to buy is now a service. And we’re trying to empower the next generation of women to really benefit from it. By making it more accessible, we are creating new lifelong customers for fine jewelry.