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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HOW THE LUXURY INDUSTRY IS LEAVING $1.7 TRILLION ON THE TABLE

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Douglas Gollan, co-founder of Elite Traveler magazine, explains why the luxury industry’s continued robust performance is coming, despite largely missed opportunities.

My mother used to always tell me I succeeded “in spite of myself.” It was her way of telling me while my intentions and instincts and many of my actions may have been right, I was making whatever the task was more difficult than it had to be.

One could argue that the luxury industry’s continued robust performance is coming despite missing some large opportunities.

A recent report by wealth researcher Wealth-X found some 185,000 households worldwide with a Net Worth of at least $30 million. These families – commonly referred to as UHNW – or Ultra High Net Worth – cumulatively are worth between $25 Trillion and $40 Trillion depending on which report one reads.

They are without doubt the “heavy users” of luxury goods and services simply because they can afford to be. After all, who else is spending $5,000 a night on suites at luxury hotels and buying $50,000 watches or $80,000 necklaces. A 2011 Washington Post research project found that U.S. households in six major markets couldn’t make ends meet despite having a Household Income of $250,000, a level considered fairly robust by media buyers.


“ Ultra High Net Worth’s are without doubt the “heavy users” of luxury goods and services simply because they can afford to be.”


The kicker was that these families didn’t even have luxury cars, didn’t buy designer fashion and had an annual vacation budget of just $3,000. In New York this Mass Affluent family was running a deficit of nearly $30,000. In other words, there was very little upside marketing to these consumers. Hundreds of brands were competing for one or two luxury purchases per year, generally for no more than a couple thousand dollars.

Greg Furman, the Founder and CEO of The Luxury Marketing Council recently told me, “luxury companies need to be more focused on selling more watches to the person who already buys a half dozen watches a year than the first watch to a person who can’t pay his rent.” He added, that as luxury companies extend their product ranges they need to invest more in educating UHNW consumers, including advertising. He uses the term “share of wallet.”

As part of a white paper I am currently working on, we are trying to understand how much these UHNW households currently spend cumulatively across a variety of luxury product and service categories – and how deep their pocket books truly are. In other words, how much more could they spend if properly educated and motivated.


“ Hundreds of brands were competing for one or two luxury purchases per year, generally for no more than a couple thousand dollars ”


The categories we are looking at include automotive, jewelry, watches, fashion and accessories, hotels, resorts, spas, villas, adventure travel, yacht rentals (not purchases), renovating and refurnishing residences and collectibles.

Obviously there is a lot of guesswork with the formulas but using research we did with Prince & Associates that included personal interviews with over 600 private jet and fractional jet owners, the current figure comes out at around $300 billion annually. That would equate to about $1.6 million in spending for each of these 185,000 UHNW households. It would also register at only around one percent or less of Net Worth.

Interestingly, as we look at numerous other surveys of luxury lifestyle spending from Ipsos, American Affluence Research Center and Unity Marketing with Mass Affluent consumers to create a range of scenarios, we believe that the potential spending of these UHNW families could be over $2 trillion!

For the Global CEO of any major luxury brand or conglomerate, I feel pretty sure they all have well developed strategies for China and E-marketing. These are considered key areas all luxury companies need to be focused on. However, I am not sure if I would find any of these same, successful companies having a Global UHNW Marketing Officer responsible for a Global UHNW strategy with a single focus to get more spend from these UHNWs and centralized authority.


“ Luxury brands have well developed strategies for China & e-Marketing, but how many have a global UHNW strategy?”


Yes, I know there are the polo sponsorships and at the country level lots of wining and dining and event invites for key customers. What I think has slipped through the cracks is these best prospects are now not in town or even in the country most of the time. I always like to say “private jets set the rich people free.” And in fact, one Richemont executive I met with referred to this group as “Homeless with 20 Homes.” Burberry has dubbed them the TLCs, short for Traveling Luxury Consumers. Global Nomads is another moniker.

Mykolas D. Rambus, CEO of Wealth-X, was right to the point: “The growing trend of the ultra wealthy choosing to establish residences in the most cosmopolitan cities around the world has implications for all professionals operating in the financial services and luxury sectors. Professionals need to understand these ultra wealthy clients, who defy being categorized by geographical location, should they wish to create consistent strategies of approach.”

Luxury houses today are still structured on a country basis with lots of country management and lots of local focus. It is not uncommon to be questioned, ‘what if your readers buy when they are in another country?’ I do understand everyone has their own revenue targets to hit. Being a global magazine, it means that some readers who are ‘based’ in the U.S. may in fact buy when they go to London or Hong Kong but at the same time readers from South America, the Middle East or Europe probably do a good deal of their buying in the U.S.


“ It’s easier to sell lots of stuff to rich people than poor people – Milton Pedraza, CEO, The Luxury Institute.”


It underscores the point that the luxury companies are enjoying success ‘despite themselves.’ Clearly, as Rambus notes, these UHNW families live a global lifestyle. A recent Financial Times piece profiled a couple who hop from London to Venice for lunch if it looks like a rainy day, and reported that today’s Super Rich follow the good weather, good schools, good tax regimes and good entertainment as they fly around on their private jets.

Milton Pedraza, the CEO of Luxury Institute once told me, “It’s easier to sell lots of stuff to rich people than poor people.” Even if the numbers I am looking at are wrong by double, luxury brands are leaving about $850 billion in sales in the pockets of UHNW customers who just need to be motivated to spend. Either way, it’s a bigger opportunity than China, bigger than the Internet, and right out there every day around the world at the nearest FBO. That’s the acronym for private jet terminal.


To further investigate Wealth & Affluence on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

The Dangers of Homogenising the Wealthy: Ledbury Research
Key Insights from The Wealth Report 2012
Luxury’s Mixed Messages in a Yo-Yo Economy


Douglas Gollan is Group President and Co-Founder of Elite Traveler Media Group, launched in 2001, based in New York. The company publishes Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine, with BPA audited distribution in over 100 countries worldwide by private jet.

It also publishes an Asia Edition of Elite Traveler, Elite Traveler Superyachts, Elite Traveler Hotels/Resorts/Spas Annual, Elite Traveler Annual Watch Guide and hosts over 60 Destination Guides for UHNW consumers at Elitetraveler.


© Luxury Society, How The Luxury Industry Is Leaving $1.7 Trillion On The Table, 28 June 2012, by Douglas Gollan.


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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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A CALM CONFIDENCE FOR HAUTE HORLOGERIE

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The Jewellery Editor, Maria Doulton visits the 21st edition of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva.

Optimism prevailed at the 2012 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, despite macroeconomic uncertainties, supply constraints & potential slowdown in Asia.

The atmosphere at 2012’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) marked that of calm confidence. 2011 proved to be an outstanding year for Swiss watchmaking – culminating in a new record for exports – yet executives remained mindful of macroeconomic uncertainties, supply constraints and a potential slowdown in Asia.

“We are quite optimistic for 2012,” confirmed Jean-Daniel Pasche, head of the Swiss watch federation, on the eve of the SIHH in Geneva. “Even though the watch industry might not have the same growth rates as the 19-20 per cent increase in watch exports seen in 2011.”


“Brands are worried about Europe, it’s not like buying milk. If things are bad, people stop buying watches.”


“Brands are worried about Europe,” he continued to Reuters. “It’s not like buying milk. If things are bad, people stop buying watches. Risks this year are the economic situation in Europe, U.S. austerity measures and the strong Swiss franc, but we expect the watch fairs to confirm the sector’s resilience.”

Despite being faced with a challenging landscape, brands remained optimistic about the coming twelve months. Vacheron Constantin claims it sold out its planned 2012 output of 19,000 timepieces in the first two days of the fair. CEO Juan-Carlos Torres remained positive that it will be another good year for the brand and does not believe China is likely to experience a sharp slowdown.

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Cartier’s Grand Complication Skeleton Pocket Watch

Officine Panerai shared its aggressive plans for expansion, revealing it will open fifteen new boutiques in the coming twelve months and will begin building a new factory in Neuchatel in March, which could increase its production staff from 130 to near 300. Fellow Richemont producer IWC will invest 50 million Swiss francs to add 25,000 square metres to its production site in Schaffhausen, as it struggles to keep up with demand.

Many conversations were driven by Swatch Group’s decision to reduce supply of components to competitors. Overall industry growth is expected to slow as brands seek alternative suppliers or develop capabilities in-house, but even then executives championed positivity. Many CEO’s were quick to acknowledge the need for unique products – and therefore unique components – in a quest to remain innovative and competitive.


“CEO’s were quick to acknowledge the need for unique products – and therefore components – in a quest to remain competitive.”


Such attitudes were convincingly reflected in the pieces on display. Wallpaper suggested that brands were embracing their invention and artistry to keep ahead of the game, following last year’s exhibition of play it safe, sure-to-sell looks. “Time after time we were shown some of the most creative watch designs in years,” they quipped in their wrap-up.

“Complications – those very technical watch additions such as tourbillons and minute repeaters – became a familiar motif as brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre and Van Cleef & Arpels sought to display their technical know-how. Compelling decorative techniques – enamelling, straw marquetry, tessellation and stone setting – were also popular themes.”

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Richard Mille’s Avenger Vertical Tourbillon concept watch

A sure sign that one of the world’s oldest luxury crafts has moved firmly into the 21st, was Richard Mille’s ground-breaking digital 3D display. Visitors watched giant digital watch dials linger in the air, rotating slowly to allow for a detailed view of inner and outer workings. Something that is sure to be repeated both at Baselworld and next year’s SIHH.

If the SIHH does indeed set the tone for the coming year in Haute Horlogerie, 2012 will champion innovation and creative strategic thinking. Change is upon us – dominant markets are changing, supply structures are changing and the landscape is, at the very least, challenging.

But for those that are game, this exciting environment paves the way for products that are truly unique, where design will be driven by the greatest of luxuries; creativity.


To further investigate Timepieces on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

5 Minutes With … Jean-Claude Biver, Hublot
Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie Leverages Film to Fight Counterfeiting
Spotlight: Pierre Dubois, CEO & Founder, Pierre DeRoche
Baselworld Mirrors Changing Landscape of Watches Sector


© Luxury Society, A Calm Confidence for Haute Horlogerie, 30 January 2012, by Sophie Duran.


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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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