Luxe brands don’t stick to the knitting
There was a time when if you loved a brand, you would opt for its trademark products. But what if your favoured handbag brand suddenly added make up to its repertoire? Would your loyalty remain unfailing, as long as you can spot the logo you love?
It’s a question that’s worth pondering as an increasing number of luxury brands are diversifying, moving out of their core areas of expertise and hoping that loyal consumers will follow.
Luxury companies that traditionally sold soft luxury goods fashion driven clothes, bags and accessories have moved on to hard luxury (that is, watches and jewellery) and even hotels and homes. This attempt to diversify into new business areas without watering down brand value has been a precarious game for many brands.
But thanks to the ever increasing demand for luxury goods, there seems to be room for new players in every category.
Emerging markets such as China, India and Russia, where the consumers are relatively new buyers of luxury brands, are seeing this trend take off. While purists may be harder to convince, those from emerging economies are more likely to accept a brand’s foray into newer playing fields.
The first option for most brands foraying into hard luxury, is watches and jewellery. With an increasing number of Swiss watchmakers willing to contract manufacture, companies like Hermes and Chanel are trying their hand at marketing watches. While they are yet to go from haute couture to haute horology, the fashion brands are being taken more seriously as watch brands and not just makers of women’s accessories.
At the Baselworld fair this year, for example, Chanel’s J12 featured a flying tourbillon that got critics sitting up and taking notice.
Jewellery is another area where fashion brands are using their familiarity with design to create high end pieces.
Louis Vuitton, the brand that started as a luggage maker in France and went on to create high fashion, opened its first jewellery boutique at the Place Vendme in 2012, the first of many.
Make up and perfumes, of course, are an area that has seen brands segueing quite naturally. Burberry, the British brand originally famed for its trench coats, today makes everything from lipstick to eau de toilette. In fact, about 7 per cent of the brand’s revenue comes from beauty products that’s an easy 151 million in just the first year of operation.
Italian brand Gucci, known for its leather products and fashion since 1921, launched its line of cosmetics in June this year, joining brands like Lanvin, which collaborated with Lancme in 2013.
Home sweet home
A study about luxury brands called ‘The New World of Luxury’ by the Boston Consulting Group in 2010 predicted that “consumers were looking more to ‘be’ than to ‘have'”, indicating that the hot new trend was ‘experience based luxury’.
The prediction seems to have been proved by the foray of high fashion brands into hospitality and dcor. Versace was one of the first to introduce its Palazzo Versace to the Gold Coast in 2000, and later in Dubai.
Inspired by the aesthetics of the brand’s founder, the Versace ‘palaces’ offer Versace loyalists a chance to live the high life.
Iconic knitwear maker Missoni and the Rezidor Hotel Group have come together to create a Hotel Missoni in Edinburgh replica hermes scarves
and Kuwait where the dcor is created with the same elements of colour and design that inspired Missoni’s apparel. Jewellery powerhouse Bulgari teamed up with the Marriott owned Ritz Carlton to create a chain of Bulgari Hotels and Resorts with properties in Milan, Bali, Tokyo and London.
Properties are also slated to be opened in Shanghai, Beijing and Dubai by 2018.
Giorgio Armani has long been retailing its furniture and furnishings under the Armani Casa brand, but have also collaborated with the Dubai based Emaar Group to create the Armani Hotel Dubai, located in the Burj Khalifa and one in Milan. Closer to home, Armani is also collaborating with the Lodha group to do the interiors for its World Towers in Mumbai, touted to be the tallest residential tower in the world.
And, of course, there is Hermes, maker of the famed Birkin bags and noted for its screen printed silk scarves, which is now retailing its own line of ceramic crockery and dinner ware giving patrons a chance to take their beloved brand into the kitchen. Just last week, Austrian crystal brand Swarovski hinted at investing in China’s real estate, a move that indicates that luxury is less about products and more about a lifestyle.
For the tastebuds
If you want a real taste of high fashion though, there’s something for your taste buds as well. Cavalli Caffe, the brainchild of Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, is situated in cities across the world, from St Tropez to New Delhi.
Conceived and decorated to complement the same design elements, one would find in Cavalli’s clothes and accessories, the cafes have gourmet menus inspired by the designer’s Italian roots.
Even the field of technology has seen fashionable entrants Prada collaborated with LG as early as 2006 to create a touchscreen phone and legendary French fashion house Dior came out with a mobile phone sporting the brand’s trademark cannage design.
The list goes on, and the possibilities for brands to broaden their horizons are endless. It’s clear that the future has luxury brands selling us not just luxury goods, but a better way of life.