So, what does everyone think of this last quote from the BoF article:
I'm not sure it's 100% valid quite yet. There's just such a massive selection of brands scattered about the interwebs that, until we get more hubs like FarFetch, make multibrand boutiques necessary just to make sense of it all and to give meaning to the chaos (like, your loyalty to one boutique has a filtering effect). Then again, maybe the multibrand boutiques are what's causing the chaos, and a switch to a primarily flagship model will make retail, both digital and b&m, tidier in general. But I'm interested in what y'all think.
In response to the article you posted, I wrote this on another forum - it doesn't immediately address your points, but does speak to the same situation (changing retail environment:
"I'm not sure how accurate this comparison is, but I see a lot of similarities with the music business.
Since record labels, music stores, and artists have to compete with free (that is, they have to offer better value than mass downloading) we're seeing a definite shift in the way that music is sold - I'd argue for the better.
It's no secret that the music business nefariously and perniciously skimmed obscene profis off the backs of the artists - to the point that, in Australia in the 1990s, a CD would cost $25-$30 and an artist would see somewhere in the vicinity of $.50 to $1 of that. Ridiculous!
Currently, more and more artists are choosing to sell direct which supports them a lot more because their margins are much more realistic (for a $10 DC sold through an online store one doesn't have to sell 100,000 to make a decent living). We're also seeing, at least in Australia, many more bands touring here as that's where their money is made - shows can't really be had for free yet so they are ways of making money - people wil gladly spend $50-$80 for an epic night out, but not so much for a record.
Comparing this back to clothes - retailers, again in Australia, are often accused of jacking up prices significantly (which, while too simple, is also fairly accurate) and degrading local industry. At the heart of those fairly emotional, economically ignorant and tired rantings is actually some simple truth: for a lot of these retailers no one's getting rich, but everyone's getting screwed.
However, like snopant, several new producers have started up recently - in the MC side of things - Henry Carter, Owen and James and Suit Shop - all of which provide better product, better service, excellent knowledge and are avilable and friendly (we'll regularly hang out). Which means that buyers are more likely to spend a premium, and also more likely to rebuy.
For one of the ventures (OJ) it was so successful the owner quit his 9-5 at one of Australia's largest banks and started a FT venture (suit shop). All these businesses are savvy, local, affordable and low overhead. Exactly similar to the success many bands operating mainly online are seeing.
For better or worse (and it really is a mixture of both) retail is changing - works for me as I live nowhere near anything of value B&M wise."
Ultimately, Atieler wasn't able to compete because of, as far as I can tell, a luddite/artistic sensability that could not cope with the margins of retail. Would any successful retail business ever, as it says in the BoF article, be nearly impossible to find? How does removing a customer base benefit keeping the doors open? Bizarre choices, poor business sense buoyed up by exclusivity and lack of competition (both now gone). That's how I see it, at least.