THE LATEST APPOINTMENTS: CHRISTIE’S, RICHEMONT & FERRARI

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Nicolas Ghesquière and Balenciaga will part ways at the end of November (Image: Giovanni Giannoni, WWD / Condé Nast / Corbis).

The Latest Appointments at Tom Ford, Walpole, Alberta Ferretti, Richemont, Orient-Express & Vertu, with exits at Balenciaga, Gilt Groupe, Azzaro & Cacharel.

After 15 years with PPR, Nicolas Ghesquière and Balenciaga have reached a “joint decision to end their working relationship,” effective Nov. 30. CEO Isabelle Guichot told WWD a successor would be named “as soon as we’re ready,” and that the brand already has a short list of candidates. Over the weekend Christopher Kane was rumoured to take the top spot, something he has since denied to WWD.

Over at Azzaro, creative director Mathilde Castello Branco has stepped down from her role after just over a year. “The House of Azzaro and Mathilde Castello Branco are moving forward in different directions,” explained a statement from the brand. “Azzaro will shortly be announcing her successor.”

At Cacharel, CEO Pascal d’Halluin has confirmed his exit, also after less than one year in the role. According to WWD, the executive is leaving by mutual agreement with the French label’s founder and president Jean Bousquet following his trial period.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari, has resigned his position as chairman of Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori, Europe’s first private operator of high-speed trains. “My growing professional commitments force me to step back now that the company is fully operational,” Montezemolo explained to Reuters. “I will continue to contribute to the success of this company, as shareholder and board member.”

Finally Gilt Group’s board and co-founder Kevin Ryan have “agreed about two months ago that Ryan should step aside in favour of a new CEO with strong operations and e-commerce skills.” The to-be-named replacement will be the company’s third CEO in two years, and is expected to steer the eventual launch of an IPO.

Marc Spiegler, Director, Art Basel

Marc Spiegler has been appointed to oversee Art Basel events in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida & Hong Kong, as the organisation re-arranges its leadership team. Mr. Spiegler will chair a four-member executive committee including a director of new initiatives, director Asia, and a director of resources and finance who will be named in the near future.

Source: Gallerist
Kamel Ouadi, Managing Director, Christie’s

Kamel Ouadi has joined famed auction house Christie’s as international managing director. Mr. Ouadi most recently served at Louis Vuitton as chief digital officer/chief creative officer, where he was responsible for the conception and launch of NOWNESS.com

Source: LinkedIn
Jean-Guillaume Prats, CEO, Estates & Wines

Jean-Guillaume Prats will join LVMH-owned Estates & Wines effective February 2013. Mr. Prats will be based in Paris, and will be a board member of the LVMH Comité Opérationnel. Since 2011, Prats has been chairman of the board of Domaines Reybier and Château Cos d’Estournel.

Source: Decanter
Eddy Cue, Board, Ferrari

Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP Internet software and services has joined the board of Ferrari. Mr. Cue currently oversees the iTunes Store, the App Store and the iBookstore, as well as Siri, Maps, iAd and Apple’s iCloud services.

Source: New Car Net
Christophe de Pous, CEO, Gucci North America

Effective January 1, Christophe de Pous will assume responsibility for Gucci North America. Mr. De Pous has served as president and CEO of Gucci Japan since September 2009, and replaces Lauren Lendrum, who left the position in April.

Source: Styleite
Cristina Egal, Managing Director, Lorenz Bäumer

Cristina Egal has been named the first managing director of Lorenz Bäumer, reporting to Bäumer, the president, founder and creative force behind the brand. Most recently, Ms. Egal operated an eponymous communications agency and boasted such clients as BNP Paribas, Sodexo, Servair and Fondation Claude Pompidou.

Source: Fashion Snoops
John Scott, CEO, Orient-Express

John Scott will become president and CEO of Orient-Express hotels, after serving as CEO of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts for over eight years. He replaces Paul White, the former president and CEO of Orient-Express Hotels, who resigned from the company and from the Board last year.

Source: Travel Mole
Natalie Ratabesi, Creative Director, Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti

Alberta Ferretti will hand over the creative direction of the Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti collection to Natalie Ratabesi, who most recently served as senior creative director at Ralph Lauren. The British designer and graduate from Central Saint Martins College will make her debut for the brand with the autumn/winter 2013 collection.

Source: Fashion United
Bernard Fornas, Richard Lepeu, Co-CEOs, Richemont

Richemont has appointed two longstanding employees as joint chief executives, in a bid to help founder and controlling shareholder Johann Rupert steer the luxury goods group through a period of slowing sales growth in its important Asian markets. Cartier chief Bernard Fornas and deputy chief executive Richard Lepeu will take over from Rupert as CEO in April 2013.

Source: Reuters
Eva Taub, CEO, Robert Clergerie

Robert Clergerie has appointed Eva Taub as CEO, following tenure as head of Christian Dior Couture’s leather division at LVMH. The Stanford and Harvard Business School alum previously launched Isotoner in Europe, prior to which she served as a Merrill Lynch financial advisor in New York and Hong Kong.

Source: Fashion Week Daily
Jerome Cheung, CEO Asia Pacific, Tom Ford

Former Gucci Group executive Jerome Cheung, has been named to succeed Regina Lam as chief executive officer at Tom Ford, for the Asia-Pacific area. The position is based in Hong Kong and Cheung will be reporting to Tom Mendenhall, vice president and chief operating officer (COO) of the company since 2006.

Source: Fashion Mag
Anssi Vanjoki, Chairman, Vertu

Luxury phone maker Vertu has selected long-time Nokia executive Anssi Vanjoki as its non-executive chairman following an ownership change. Vanjoki, who spent 20 years at Nokia in various executive positions, left the Finnish cell phone maker in 2010 after the board appointed Stephen Elop as the next chief executive.

Source: Reuters
Michael Ward, Jonathan Heilbron, Board, Walpole

UK luxury brand trade body, Walpole, has announced the appointment of Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods, and Jonathan Heilbron, CEO of Thomas Pink, to its board of directors. Prior to joining the board, both Ward and Heilbron have been long-time supporters of Walpole, as Walpole Brands of Tomorrow mentors and regular speakers.

Source: Fashion United

For more in the series of The Latest Appointments, please see our most recent editions as follows:

The Latest Appointments: PPR, Cadillac & Baccarat
The Latest Appointments: Mulberry, DVF & Ralph Lauren
The Latest Appointments: Burberry, Coty & Condé Nast


© Luxury Society, The Latest Appointments: Christie’s, Richemont & Ferrari, 19 November 2012, by Sophie Doran.


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THE LATEST INVESTMENTS: ASTON MARTIN, FABERGE & CHRISTOPHER KANE

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Orient Express turns down a $1.8 billion takeover bid from Indian Hotels Group, as mining company Gemfields seeks to acquire fine jeweller Fabergé for $142 million.

Acquired: Fabergé, Gemfields

Gemfields, pending minority investor approval, is to buy luxury jeweler Faberge from one of the colored gem miner’s own shareholders, in a deal valuing the fine jeweller at $142 million. The all-share deal will create an integrated company that mines colored stones and uses the Faberge brand to promote their use in jewelery.

Source: Reuters
Speculation: Sale, Aston Martin

Investment Dar Co., owner of Aston Martin, is said to be in “advanced” talks to sell new shares to investors to boost funding for future development. The Kuwaiti based investment group has received competing bids from Investindustrial and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (MM) for 50% of voting rights and a 40% equity stake.

Source: Bloomberg
Rejected: Takeover Bid, Orient-Express

Orient-Express has rejected an unsolicited $1.2 billion takeover offer from Tata Group’s Indian Hotels Co Ltd and a fund controlled by Italy’s Montezemolo & Partners. The unsolicited bid was 43% higher than Orient-Express’s 20-day average price, a record premium for the industry, and valued the company at the highest earnings multiple in six years for a hotel takeover.

Source: Reuters, WSJ
Acquired: Investcorp, Georg Jensen

Bahrain-based alternative asset manager, Investcorp, has purchased Danish luxury retailer Georg Jensen for $140 million. Hazem Ben-Gacem, Investcorp’s European private equity head, will co-chair Georg Jensen, as saying Investcorp planned to expand the Danish brand in Asia, particularly China.

Source: Reuters
Speculation: PPR, Christopher Kane

PPR, helmed by Francois-Henri Pinault, is said to be in discussions with Christopher Kane, to invest in his eponymous brand. The company is believed to have held discussions with Christopher Kane in which financial backing has been offered. Nothing has yet been confirmed and representatives for PPR and Kane were unavailable for comment.

Source: Vogue UK
Acquired: Vionnet, Goga Ashkenazi

Kazakh oil billionaire Goga Ashkenazi has acquired all outstanding shares in Vionnet to become its sole owner. Ms. Ashkenazi bought into Vionnet in May 2012, but has since purchased all remaining shares from past owners Matteo Marzotto and Marni CEO Gianni Castiglioni.

Source: Elle UK
Boughtback: Derek Lam, Labelux

In a bid to refocus on luxury leather goods and shoes, Labelux has sold Derek Lam back to its founders, Lam and CEO Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann. “We have taken a strategic decision to refocus our activity on luxury leather goods and shoes,” explained CEO Reinhard Mieck said. “We wish Derek and Jan well as we return the leadership into their capable hands.”

Source: Fashionista
Invested: Damiani, India

Damiani is the first foreign investor to get the government approval to invest in the jewellery monobrand retail in India, after working with the Indian government to acquire 51% of Damiani India Pvt Ltd, the company managing the Damiani store in New Delhi at the Oberoi Hotel. Damiani will then agree to establish a joint venture with Indian partners.

Source: Damiani
Confirmed: Karl Lagerfeld, Inter Parfums

Karl Lagerfeld has signed a 20 year worldwide license agreement with Inter Parfums, to create and distribute perfumes under the German fashion designer’s namesake brand. Karl Lagerfeld has since ended its deal with fragrance and cosmetics company Coty BV.

Source: Reuters
Sold: Plaza Hotel, Subrata Roy

Indian billionaire Subrata Roy has purchased a 75% stake in New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel for $575m from US-Israeli retailer El Ad. The remaining 25% of the hotel is being retained by its current owner, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, via his Kingdom Holding group.

Source: BBC
Rejected: Four Seasons Hotel NYC, Asian Buyer

Four Seasons Hotel New York owner H. Ty Warner has decided not to sell the Manhattan property after receiving an unsolicited bid of about $900 million. “Due to the continued strength in the New York real estate market and impending fiscal cliff, he does not feel that this is an advantageous time to sell this iconic property,” explained Donna Snopek, chief financial officer of Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts LLC.

Source: Bloomberg
Invested: DiamondCorp, Laurelton Diamonds

Laurelton Diamonds Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tiffany & Co., has issued a $6 million term loan to DiamondCorp plc, a South African diamond development and exploration company listed on London’s AIM stock exchange. As part of the loan agreement, Laurelton Diamonds will have the right to purchase production from DiamondCorp’s Lace Mine in South Africa.

Source: WWD
Stake: Luxottica, Salmoiraghi & Viganò

Salmoiraghi & Viganò, a leading Italian company in the eyewear retail sector, has received approximately €45 million from eyewear manufacturer Luxottica. Luxottica will subscribe for newly issued shares of Salmoiraghi & Viganò resulting in a 36% equity stake in the Italian optical retailer, which will retain control of company operations.

Source: 4Traders
Acquired: Four Seasons Toronto, Saudi Prince Walid

Billionaire Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding investment group has purchased the luxury hotel Four Seasons Toronto, Canada for $200 million. “The transaction was funded by a $130 million mortgage loan while $70 million came from (the company’s) own resources,” Hazem al-Dosari, a Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) spokesman, told AFP.

Source: Al Arabiya
Sold: Ekati Diamond Mine, BHP

Diamond company Harry Winston agreed to purchase BHP Billiton’s Ekati mine in Canada and its marketing operations for the precious stones for $500 million. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, according to BHP.

Source: The Israeli Diamond Industry
Invested: Aeffe, Emanuel Ungaro

Aeffe has signed an exclusive partnership agreement with Emanuel Ungaro for the production and worldwide distribution of women’s clothing and accessories, as well as the option to acquire a significant minority share of Ungaro’s capital stock on achieving shared goals. The license will be active for a period of 7 years, with the option to renew.

Source: Aeffe

For more in the series of The Latest Investments, please see our most recent editions as follows:

The Latest Investments: Chanel, Marcolin & Orient Express
The Latest Investments: Anya Hindmarch, Berluti & Harry Winston
The Latest Investments: Coty, Porsche & Valentino


© Luxury Society, The Latest Investments: Aston Martin, Fabergé & Christopher Kane, 30 November 2012, by Sophie Doran.


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THE LATEST APPOINTMENTS: CARTIER, CACHAREL & CHRISTIAN DIOR

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Raf Simons has been appointed as creative director of Christian Dior, succeeding John Galliano.

 

The Latest Appointments at Starwood Hotels, Christie’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Cartier, YSL Beauté, Sonia Rykiel, PPR, Bentley Motors, Akris & Cacharel

The Dior saga is finally over. After one year of speculation – where everyone from Riccardo Tisci, Marc Jacobs, Kayne West, Alber Elbaz, Alexander Wang and even the disgraced Galliano himself were rumoured to be taking the top spot – Raf Simons has been confirmed to head womenswear and haute couture, whilst Kris Van Assche continues to head design at Dior Homme.

Over at Richemont, group manufacturing director Jan Rupert is stepping down to focus on other activities and to broaden his remit within the family of companies controlled by Johann Rupert. Whilst Mr. Rupert will remain an executive director of the group, Richard Lepeu, Richemont’s deputy chief executive, will oversee the group’s manufacturing strategy as of April 1.

At PPR, Gucci America’s president Laura Lendrum has resigned to pursue other opportunities according to WWD. Ms. Lendrum joined Gucci in 1997, and moved to Yves Saint Laurent America as president in 2001. Gucci president and chief executive officer Patrizio di Marco will oversee the Americas region in the interim until the company names a successor.

Raf Simons, Creative Director, Dior

Ending a year of speculation, Belgian designer Raf Simons has been named as the next artistic director of Christian Dior, following his recent exit from Jil Sander. Mr. Simons will be in charge of haute couture, women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, starting with the couture show in July, while keeping his eponymous men’s line. Kris Van Assche remains in his position at Dior Homme.

Source: NYTimes
Stanislas de Quercize, CEO, Cartier

Cartier has appointed Stanislas de Quercize to take over from Bernard Fornas as chief executive of top-of-the-range jewellery and watchmaker Cartier. Mr. De Quercize is currently serving as CEO of fellow Richemont subsidiary Van Cleef & Arpels, and will replace Mr Fornas at the end of the year, when he is due to retire.

Source: Reuters
Joshua Schulman, President, Bergdorf Goodman

Following his departure from Jimmy Choo in late 2011, Joshua Schulman has been named president of U.S. luxury retailer Bergdorf Goodman. Prior to his tenure as CEO of Jimmy Choo, Mr. Schulman served as executive vice president at the Gucci Group, where he oversaw worldwide merchandising and wholesale for Yves Saint Laurent, and served as worldwide director of Gucci women’s ready-to-wear.

Source: WWD
Stephan Bezy, General Manager, YSL Beauté

Joining the Management Committee of L’Oreal Luxe, Stephan Bezy has been appointed International General Manager of Yves Saint Laurent Beauté. Mr. Bezy joined L’Oréal in 1991 and has since served as global President at Redken, International General Manager at Shu Uemura and General Manager of Cacharel.

Source: Premium Beauty News
Management Team, Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Starwood has restructured its executive team following the retirement of three senior leaders, Matt Avril, President of the Hotel Group; Denise Coll, President of Starwood North America; and Miguel Ko, Chairman and President of Starwood Asia Pacific.

Currently president and CEO of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Sergio Rivera, has been promoted to co-president of Starwood Americas. Osvaldo Librizzi who assumes primary responsibility for Latin America joins him as co-president of Starwood Americas. Stephen Ho, currently Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Development for Starwood China, has been promoted to President of Asia Pacific. And finally currently head of Starwood’s operations for China, Qian Jin, has been promoted to the title of President of Greater China.

Source: PR Newswire
Vincent Gillet, Brand Chief, W & Le Meridien

Starwood has appointed Vincent Gillet as brand chief for W Hotels and Le Meridien brands, replacing Eva Ziegler. Mr. Gillet has spent the last two decades working on well-known luxury brands for LVMH, Chanel and Pernod Ricard, followed by a three-year tenure as chief marketing officer at Six Senses Resorts & Spas.

Source: USA Today
Eric Langon, Managing Director, Sonia Rykiel

Eric Langdon has been appointed as managing director of Sonia Rykiel effective April 16, where he will report to CEO Jean-Marc Loubier, also CEO of Fung Brands, which acquired an 80 per cent stake in the French fashion house in February. Most recently Mr. Langon served as chief operating officer at Lancel.

Source: WWD
Katrina Burchell, Intellectual Property Director, PPR

Katrina Burchell has been charged with the task of re-organising and monitoring PPR’s Intellectual Property function, joining the French conglomerate as Intellectual Property Director. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Burchell headed the Trademarks, copyrights and domain names at Unilever group.

Source: 4-Traders
Emile Rubenfield, CEO, Carolina Herrera

Emilie Rubinfeld has been appointed vice president of global marketing and communications, in a newly created title at Carolina Herrera. Most recently Ms. Rubinfeld served as senior vice president of marketing and communications at Akris, following tenure as vice president of marketing at Giorgio Armani Corp.

Source: WWD
Jinqing Caroline Cai, Managing Director, Christie’s China

Auction house Christie’s has appointed its first managing director in China, Jinqing Caroline Cai, effective June 1. A founder of the Brunswick Group, a global PR firm in Beijing, Ms. Cai will manage the office and oversee all activities involving the Chinese marketplace.

Source: JustLuxe
Katie Reed, Associate Vice President, Akris

Katie Reed has joined Akris as associate vice president of marketing and communications, following service at Patek Philippe North America, as public relations and communications director. Ms. Reed will oversee all areas of marketing, advertising, public relations and special events in the U.S.

Source: WWD
Kevin Rose, Sales & Marketing Chief, Bentley Motors

As part of a reshuffle of senior marketers within Volkswagen Group UK, Kevin Rose has joined Bentley Motors as its new board level sales and marketing chief, taking over from Alasdair Stewart. Mr. Rose joins from parent group Volkswagen’s China business, where he was executive vice president for sales.

Bentley has also named Andrea Baker as head of media relations, who most recently served as head of public relations with Porsche Cars Great Britain.

Source: Marketing Week
Source: JustLuxe.com
Pascal d’Halluin, CEO, Cacharel

Pascal d’Halluin has been appointed chief executive officer of Cacharel, succeeding managing director Marc Ramanantsoa, effective March 19. Mr. d’Halluin worked with L’Oréal for eight years before taking over as CEO of Lee Cooper France in 1994.

Source: Just Style
Michael Burgess, President, Saks Direct

Saks Inc. has named Michael Burgess president of Saks Direct, reporting to Denise Incandela, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Mr. Burgess was most recently led merchandising, marketing, consumer information technology and other functions of the consumer division of FTD, the florist, which is owned by United Online Inc.

Source: WWD
Michael Kingston, SVP & CIO, Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus Group has named Michael R. Kingston senior vice president and chief information officer, succeeding Phillip Maxwell, who earlier this month announced his retirement. Earlier, Mr. Kingston served as vice president, applications at Coach Inc. and international director of information services at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Source: WWD

For more in the series of The Latest Appointments, please see our most recent editions as follows:

The Latest Appointments: Givenchy, Jil Sander & Yves Saint Laurent
The Latest Appointments, Pucci, Tod’s & Girard-Perregaux
The Latest Appointments, Bulgari, Labelux & Net-a-Porter


© Luxury Society, The Latest Appointments: Cartier, Cacharel & Christian Dior, 17 April 2012, by Sophie Doran


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MEN: THE NEW LUXURY BIG SPENDERS?

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James Lawson, director of Ledbury Research, highlights the promise of luxury for men, but feels that Chinese trends may mask a global shift

Accounting for 40% of global sales, men’s spending on luxury also grew almost twice as fast as women’s in 2011, 14% compared with 8% respectively (Bain). This segment therefore remains heavily in focus by those in the luxury sector, with the likes of Burberry and Coach flagging it as an area of expansion and aiming to join the ranks of menswear veterans Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss and Dunhill.

At Burberry, where menswear and men’s accessories currently represent 27% of sales, the brand is looking to “double sales over time”. Coach has developed a dedicated men’s space at its flagship on Madison Avenue, subsequently leading to a doubling of its men’s sales to 20%.

Luxury giants have also jumped onto the bandwagon: LVMH’s Berluti expanded its niche from luxury footwear to debut its first men’s ready-to-wear collection at Paris Fashion Week in January, while PPR bought Italian suitmaker Brioni in November last year and signalled its faith in the segment’s prospects by announcing an expanded offering as well as new flagship plans for Europe, America, China and the Middle East.


“ Accounting for 40% of global sales, men’s spending on luxury also grew almost twice as fast as women’s in 2011 ”


Alexander McQueen is another brand investing in menswear. The PPR owned house will open a 185sqm dedicated space on London’s Savile Row in September, showcasing both the ready-to-wear collection and Alexander McQueen by Huntsman, a bespoke service announced in January. Prices for the bespoke service will range from £4,500 – £5,000 and the pieces will take about 12 weeks to make.

Creative director, Sarah Burton, said bespoke was a natural progression for the brands menswear offering. “We already offer couture for women, and wanted to add it for men. And our clients were asking for it. With this service we want to give them beautiful, handcrafted clothes, and emphasize artisanal work,” she told WWD.

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Net-a-Porter’s menswear counterpart, Mr Porter, launched in February 2011.

 

Many attribute this growth to China, where men account for over two-thirds (70%) of all luxury sales. This is in part due to the popular gift-giving culture amongst businessmen and government officials. The question, however, is whether this has been overhyped, and if Chinese male appetites for luxury are sustainable in the long term.

Because while China may currently still be dominated by male spending, this appears to be changing: we are seeing Chinese women play an increasing role in wealth creation (see High Net Worth December 2011). The rise of self-purchasing women may soon come to overshadow male demand in China, and cause a shift in the balance of luxury demand between the genders (see Ledbury’s Modern Matriarch Chinese Wealth Segment).


“ Many attribute this growth to China, where men account for over two-thirds (70%) of all luxury sales ”


Despite this, brands are still targeting men, the new big luxury spenders. This is partly due to the globally shifting attitudes. Traditionally male spend has been impacted faster and harder by the downturn, but men are now becoming more discerning.

Net -a-Porter’s Mr. Porter (since February 2011), Gilt Groupe’s GiltMAN (October 2009) and the latter’s full-price men’s site Park & Bond (August 2011) have not only tapped into the relatively underpenetrated online space in menswear, they have also recognized the change in the shopping habits of today’s men and have invested heavily in their editorial content.

Park & Bond, a partnership with GQ magazine, offers advice and how-tos, buying guides, and even free personal shopper assistance on their website to “find your own personal style”. As a further sign of male demand, Gilt has invested in a full-price men’s site before that for women, indicating the large potential in online male luxury spend.


The above is based on a collection of insights taken from Ledbury Research’s flagship publication High Net Worth. For more information please visit this link.


Ledbury Research
is a research company specialising in the understanding and engaging of High Net Worth Individuals.

Bespoke consumer work spans all forms of quantitative and qualitative research, typically conducted on a multi-country basis, in wealth hubs around the world.

The analyst team delivers market information, trends and analysis through regular reports on the luxury and wealth markets.


© Luxury Society, Men: The New Luxury Big Spenders?, 10 April 2012, by James Lawson.


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LUXURY, FULLY CUSTOMISABLE IN 2012

 

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Coach’s Year of the Dragon collection, developed in collaboration with Chinese artist Zhang Lan.

As luxury consumers become more diverse and discerning, we investigate how brands are approaching an increasingly fragmented international market.

I would be happy to argue that luxury has become one of the most globalised industries in the world. Rapid and aggressive expansion by super brands like Louis Vuitton, Rolls Royce, Rolex and Four Seasons, backed by powerful super conglomerates like LVMH, Richemont and PPR, has seen luxury permeate areas of the earth once better known for human rights conflicts than seven-star hotels.

At the risk of oversimplifying the situation, luxury has never been bigger – nor has it ever had larger levels of retailers, consumers, publicity and services. As the game moves at a breakneck pace, success in this industry has become driven by Darwinian thinking, where brands must quite literally, adapt or die.

Whether it be conforming to the consumer driven digital revolution, selling goods on the internet or responding to the need for personalisation of iconic products, it has been those brands quickest to embrace change that have remained the most agile and best positioned to absorb the effects of economic instability.


“ For me bespoke is exactly what luxury should be. Old-fashioned luxury is about having something especially made for you – Anya Hindmarch ”


Difficult when you consider that luxury is unique, in that the customer and the Maison are always right. Keeping a brand “luxury” is just as much about dictating what that brand is and what it stands for, as much as it is about bending over backwards to give a client what they want. But in saying this, in 2012 it feels like the pendulum of favour may be swinging toward consumers. Brands seem to have conceded the need to deliver outside their traditional value charter – whether that is a Facebook page or Hermès Sari.

The fruits of such logic are ever apparent when one looks at the products luxury brands will be taking with them into 2012 – products that are not only regionally and culturally thoughtful, but often made-to-order and sometimes designed entirely by the customer. Whilst 2011 was an active year for the launch of bespoke initiatives for brands, I can’t help but think it was just a taste of what’s to come. Vanessa Friedman often muses that three times makes a trend – if that is the case, expect to see a veritable avalanche of bespoke
options in the coming twelve months.

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Anya Hindmarch and an example of a made-to-order product from her Bespoke boutique.

Mass Customisation

Customisation is nothing new – it is if anything, a founding principle of luxury – but it certainly is something incredibly popular in fashion and accessories. And in an era where luxury has penetrated the mass market and something afforded by the middle class, what could be more appropriate? The only thing more luxurious than a signature Burberry trench, is a signature Burberry trench made entirely to your specifications, which technology has now made a reality on a global scale.

Burberry’s Bespoke service allows clients to choose fabrics, patterns, designs, cuts and even colours. In addition, they can to scroll through various options in collar styles, cuff straps and mink linings, among others. The completed product is be delivered within four to eight weeks.


“ In an era where luxury has penetrated the mass market and become a status symbol of the middle class, what could be more appropriate? ”


UK accessories brand Anya Hindmarch, established a dedicated bespoke retail space in London over two years ago, most recently launching online. Speaking with The Telegraph, the designer mused that “old-fashioned luxury is about having something especially made for you. It’s something that has a story.” Her Knightsbridge boutique has an on-site craftsman, developing an array of leather goods as diverse as £75 bookmarks, through made-to-measure wallets, to Hindmarch’s £15,000 crocodile-leather Ebury bags.

And as luxury menswear becomes more and more important to the landscape, it is unsurprising to learn that Louis Vuitton and Bally now both offer made-to-order shoes – and in the case of Vuitton, made-to-order handbags for women. Prada launched customisable eyewear and accessories options last year, Gucci moved into made-to-measure suits and shoes. Brioni recently revealed that 40% of its sales are derived from its bespoke products, stitched by hand in the Southern Italian town of Penne.

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Blancpain’s “Chinese Dragon” Caruso, limited to a run of only 50 units worldwide, retailing for approximately $220,000.

Regional Customisation

Regional influence has extended well beyond local inventory management and appropriate
communications strategies. Today geography not only exudes overt influence on product design but seeks to compliment – or should I say capitalise – on local culture and religion. 2012 will make an example out of China, with the significant number of products designed by luxury brands, celebrating the Year of the Dragon.

Just this week, Vertu has launched a luxury dragon-themed mobile phone based on its Signature collection, with prices hovering above $20,000. Coach has collaborated with Chinese artist Zhang Lan on an accessories collection, adorning the brand’s signature designs and mahogany colour scheme with golden dragons rendered in a style reminiscent of traditional Chinese ink painting (Jing Daily).


“ How far can brands travel in their quest to please consumers before they lose their own specific defining values and cultural heritage? ”


Piaget threw an elaborate gala in Beijing to launch its Dragon and Phoenix collections, Shanghai Tang collaborated with Nespresso for its Dragon collection and Rolls Royce has released a limited edition Phantom for the occasion – unsurprising when they now claim to sell more cars in China than they do in the West.

Swarovski lauded the event with a jewellery and timepiece collection whilst Versace designed a collection of flashy accessories starting at $5000, for distribution exclusively in the Asia Pacific region. Blancpain debuted its “Chinese Dragon” Caruso, priced at 1.4 million Yuan (approximately $220,000), limited to a run of only 50 units worldwide.

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Louis Vuitton’s 2010 celebration of Diwali, which included a collaboration with Indian artist Rajeev Sethi, whose window concepts were installed from Beirut to Shanghai and from Johannesburg to Oslo.

Many of these sentiments were evident in India 2011, when Hermès produced a range of Saris and Bottega Veneta its ‘Knot India’ collection, coinciding with its exhibition in Mumbai. Louis Vuitton was characteristically ahead of the curve back in 2010, when they feted Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, on a global scale.

Whilst pursuing these types of strategies is neither a surprising move nor a new one – particularly when you consider the fanfare that is Christmas – an increasingly diverse customer base is forcing brands into new territories and cultures that are not there own, as we have seen with the Year of the Dragon. But to remain successful, history suggests they must also stay true to their luxury positioning, the specialities and strengths of their own native soil and essentially, retain tight control their of brand image – easily achieved
by controlling the products on the market.

The question remains, how far can brands travel in their quest to please consumers before they lose their own specific defining values and cultural heritage? Does a Sari made in France by Hermès, hold real significance to an Indian consumer? How will products change again with the emerging strength of Brazil and continued prosperity in Russia?

With any luck 2012 will answer some of these questions, but as always, we invite our members to join the discussion below.

For more in our Bulletin series, please see our most recent editions as follows:


© Luxury Society, Luxury, Fully Customisable in 2012, by Sophie Doran.


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