You may have read about Louis Vuitton’s By Appointment Only Service: a curated selection of pieces chosen for a client’s tastes come directly to their doorstep in a truck. They started the service in New York last year and it was extended to California – it was a COVID-friendly way of shopping. While many thought it just a fad that would only last during these unprecedented times, this mobile service could just become a fun yet safe post-pandemic retail experience.
Spearheading this new way of shopping in the Gulf is Manolo Blahnik, who launched their Runway on Wheels during Ramadan in the UAE. This is the first service its kind from the brand and the first time it’s offered in Dubai. Kristina Blahnik, CEO of Manolo Blahnik says: “We like to do things differently, which is why we are thrilled to be partnering with Runway on Wheels in our Middle Eastern market. It’s an incredible opportunity to give our loyal clients a new way of shopping and invite them into the World of Manolo.”
The luxury bus can be booked for private events such as shower parties, birthdays or just because you want to go on a shoe shopping spree with some of your girlfriends. Dubai-based Samara Punjabi, CEO of Times Square and Manolo Blahnik, believes the mobile shopping model could really catch on in the Middle East. Here is what she had to say about Runway on Wheels.
Q How did you come up with the concept?
A When the pandemic hit, most brick ‘n’ mortar retailers felt an immediate impact in loss of revenue. This came from many factors, from lack of international tourists and the lockdown, to people not feeling comfortable shopping at the malls. I started to think about other channels to reach the consumer and create a new and exciting experience. That’s when I came up with the concept of the Runway On Wheels.
Q As malls and shopping goes back to “normal,” do you still feel there is a need for a Runway on Wheels?
A Absolutely, even with consumers and worldwide people becoming vaccinated and feeling safer to venture to malls, people are still working from home and preferring to have Zoom calls over meeting in real life, even post pandemic. This is the same for the way consumers are shopping. We are seeing a major influx of sales on our e-retail channels. The Runway on Wheels concept is also about convenience, though online shopping is great, sometimes (especially with shoes), you really need to try on the shoes and see how they fit and feel.
Q How have the first few weeks been? Are people having events like bridal showers ?
A The Runway on Wheels and Manolo Blahnik is all about the experience, so it works well for bridal events and birthdays. We have had a few bookings already from husbands who have surprised their wives with the concept at their doorstep and gifted a pair of Manolos.
Q Will this concept be rolled out in other parts of the Middle East?
A We have rolled the concept out to other parts of UAE, including Al Ain, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. If in the future, we see it is a viable retail experience, we will definitely look at introducing it to other parts of the Middle East.