Dec 17, 2021
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Hearst Luxury Collection calls on Ken Downing to lead new e-commerce platform

Dec 17, 2021

Hearst Luxury Collection, the division of American media conglomerate Hearst that brings together Elle, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and Town & Country, is preparing to launch its very own integrated e-commerce marketplace, it announced on Thursday. Dubbed “The Tower,” the new platform will be led by Neiman Marcus veteran Ken Downing, who joins the company as chief brand officer.

Ken Downing - Photo: Hearst

The Tower will be made up of four individual online stores that share one cart, one platform and one system of back-end technology. Each of the four magazines will have their own store URL, each with a distinct design, but transiting between brands will be facilitated via “cross-pollinated content and top level navigation.”
The marketplace, which seeks to merge content and commerce, while also creating a sense of community, taps into the growing trend of shoppable digital content, and follows in the footsteps of platforms such as luxury-focused Ssense and streetwear expert High Snobiety, both of which mix editorial content with e-commerce. Hearst is no doubt hoping to give its own multi-level marketplace an edge by leveraging the well-established global authority of its historied portfolio of luxury publications.

“Within a few years, digital will be the dominant channel for luxury purchases,” said Hearst Magazines chief business officer Kristen O’Hara in a release. “Companies that deliver content, curation and customers to luxury brands will lead this commerce transformation. The Hearst Luxury Collection is poised to do just that. With Ken’s leadership, deep understanding of the luxury consumer and ability to identify trends and items that excite them most will turn our vision for The Tower into a reality.”
Appointed to helm the new project, Downing boasts more than three decades of luxury retail experience, having notably spent over 25 years as senior vice president and fashion director at luxe department store chain Neiman Marcus.  
In his new role with Hearst, he will work closely with the four brands’ editorial teams in order to ensure that each publication’s DNA is effectively brought to life as an engaging online shopping experience.
“I am excited to be joining the talented team at Hearst as the architect of this bold, revolutionary shopping platform,” commented Downing. “Bringing together innovation and unrivaled creativity to a seamless digital retail experience is both thrilling and invigorating. My passion for the customer experience and exceeding the expectations of the luxury shopper through rich, lush storytelling and superlative product selections has defined my career.”
According to Hearst, the first of The Tower’s stores will go live in Spring 2022, with the three remaining stores set to launch over the course of the year.

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