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Restoration Hardware Living Rooms

Laurel- Your post popped up on my Facebook feed via someone that must be a subscriber and felt it was worth a read…and actually a response. As someone that as been in this industry for well over 25 years and not only owns an interior design firm but who has designed literally hundreds of products for Restoration Hardware ( among a range of other retailer/wholesalers at all levels) and was creative director for one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the World (based in Vietnam yet supplying a majority of the top level of American home furnishings market) I would love to offer another perspective to what you have written. To label RH in the way that you have is, in my opinion, is a little like blaming Whole Foods for the fact a conventionally grown apple they sell is more than it is at… say.. Target. This is not a one to one equation… It never has been… nor, in my opinion, will it ever be ( and trust me I am a big fan/have designed for Target too) And to look at a “picture” to determine it’s “margin structure” from the outside of any company is, in fact, just that…looking at it from the outside. Without actual hard data to back what you are proclaiming. For in reality, what you quote as fact is…in many cases, 100% incorrect. That I actually DO know as fact. For example…you note the wine barrel chandelier at Restoration Hardware. Having actually been in France with Rudi to purchase and load up the truly vintage French barrels ( which were then deconstructed into staves) I bore more than one bruise from that labor of love. And from that pick up we drove more than a few hours to numerous European workshops where the chandeliers were actually made for RH. This is actually fact. Furthermore, without a platform like RH, those artisans would never have been able to make a living doing what they love in…and maintain an family run craft that, at times, was 2 to 3 generations strong. This is but one example of what could be page upon page that I could give to you of actual fact related to what you stated above. Design development costs. Royalty agreements to artists.. Construction methods. Retail environments. Travel costs. Procurement of environmentally concious materials. Prototyping. These are things that factor into any product and its pricing.. Or don’t. For with a little more research, you would see that lighting is actually one of the categories in which patent protection does not exist…so the Chinese vendors you are showing are actually ripping off many of the original designs of the true artists…the ones that RH gave a platform to from which they built a living for their families. For if you authentically want to see an industry change…how exactly does singling out a sole retailer actually accomplish that goal? And as a responsible journalist and designer …if you are going to look at one company to make a statement about their impact on an industry…should you not first acknowledge the state of the industry prior to that company’s entry into the market? As a consultant for numerous levels of the retail landscape, I could unbiasedly argue that RH has been the single largest influencer of elevating the design knowledge of the buying public (domestically and internationally) and, in turn, forced an entire industry to once again invest in a consumer shopping experience in the physical World. In addition, the look and design they brought to the US market (whether curated or created) launched an entire redirection of the wholesale home furnishings industry which inspires residential consumers to hire interior designers to get “that look”. Furthermore, the traffic that an RH store or other design inspired leader ( plug-in: Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Crate and Barrel) drives to a mall location has a significant ripple effect across all other retailers in that location…which is well documented by traffic flow patterns when the move to an outside location. Does RH manufacture overseas? Absolutely. But so does 90% of the rest of the furniture industry…let alone retail in general. And on the same manufacturing worktables across the Globe that RH’s items exist are also some more mass retailers as well as some most expensive home furnishing brands in the global marketplace.. Again…I have been to these places ( let alone headed them) so I know this as fact. So…I am pro Restoration Hardware. Yes. I am also pro a vast number of other retailers and wholesalers…like Prada, Gucci, Bally, the brands of the William Sonoma family, Armani home, Ralph Lauren Home, Modern History, Dwell, Four Hands, VanThiel, Lilian August and countless more that ALL manufacture around the globe…including the fact that each and everyone of these listed manufacture goods in China and the balance of Asia…and provide a “premium” product to the market. So instead of directing blame to them for something that has been the basis of retail for the last 1000 years… I choose to look at them for what they…as any other retailer should be..as a great marketer. Which is, in fact, exactly what you are… by putting “The Shocking Truth about Restoration Hardware” as the title of your post. For to define any thing in business or life by an isolated element without investing the time to truly access it’s globally integrated context has become an achilles heel of media and sadly a societal norm. But we all must do more than that…and we must be better than that. Having a voice in social media is a huge gift ( that no doubt takes endless effort and more energy than anyone, other than someone in it, could know) but it also comes with true responsibility. You obviously have tremendous talent and a great passion for the industry…yet my challenge to you would be to consider how it could be used to actually elevate what you deem an inherent weakness in the global industry rather than call out a single player unfairly. For that, in my opinion, actually just devalues us all.ReplyCancel
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Restoration Hardware Living Rooms

Hi Robb, Thank you for your very detailed explanation. I’ve answered some 150 comments and that is just here. And in those comments, I explain some points that you brought up and what my main point is which was lost on some individuals. Therefore, I’m not going to repeat that here. The title is meant to entice people to open up the post. It worked. :] Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure that anyone would be that interested. My aim with this blog is to educate, entertain and open up a dialog for the greater good of all. And by All, I mean Restoration Hardware too. I want them to succeed, but not at the expense of my colleagues. There’s a lot in these comments. And I’m afraid that much of it supports my assertions in terms of the quality of the furnishings. If that is the public’s perception, then perhaps it’s of significance? Besides here I’ve heard from dozens of people who’ve had a bad experience with RH. Surely, the company is aware and is working to create a brand synonymous with quality as well as integrity? Because at the moment, the jury has concluded otherwise. Most of the brands you mentioned in the home furnishings industry are not portending to be high end. It is as if the gap suddenly started selling their torn, faded jeans for a thousand dollars a pair and then built an exquisite hotel in which to sell them in order to elevate their stature. For years, Restoration Hardware was a brand which was known to be affordable and charming. At least I thought so. I wish that would come back. But if it wants to be a luxury brand, then something else needs to change IMO. Again, thank you Robb for taking the time to write your perspective. ReplyCancel
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Restoration Hardware Living Rooms

Katherine – August 11, 2016 – 10:36 PM You might have been in my kitchen tonight as we discussed the broken bar stools (only two years old) that we bought from Restoration Hardware. We are not an active household with a gaggle of rough and tumble kids jumping on things, so for items to be broken or worn is odd. For our newly renovated home we bought three items from RH. Bar stools and bistro chairs with cane seating – bar stools hardly used and now needing to be repaired. Repair cost is the same as what we paid for the stool. The Laney wood kitchen table – with treated barn boards that warp. And the Salerno Streetlight lantern – lovely…. until I woke up one morning and saw it hanging by the wire. The lantern weighs about 80 pounds and it was hanging by the wire only. It has a long finial on the end – it would kill someone if it fell. My husband and I got up on the ladder and managed to get it down without falling off or dropping the lantern. I just wanted to let it fall to the ground and not try to save it – it was nerve racking. And our options to get it back up – and btw keep some of our investment in the piece, not return it to RH – no, they don’t stand by anything. We took it to the light restoration company who did all of our lighting except for this giant mistake purchase – and for another $600 we had it repaired. Yes we were fooled by the look. Never again.ReplyCancel

Restoration Hardware Living Rooms

Restoration Hardware Living Rooms

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