Retail Evolution: Over the Pandemic, Luxury Brands Continue to Expand, Innovate - Lifestyle Asia

One sports car brand has just debuted its first ready-to-wear collection on the runway, while other fashion houses have ventured in dining.

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It’s not entirely unheard of to see luxury brands involved in cafes, restaurants, skincare, makeup, furniture, and even vehicles, in recent years, shoppers are seeing more retailers of premium goods branching out to areas outside their specialties.

There are multiple possible reasons for this. It’s likely that leaders of the brands are looking for an extension of their vision, aiming to build a complete experience that matches the products they sell, simply exploring a new income stream, or all of the abovementioned.

A Vogue Business report echoes this, suggesting that these ventures are attempts to “bring new customers in and help secure top-client loyalty.” Whatever their intent may be, here’s how luxury retailers have innovated their brands.

Food and beverage

Interlinking food and beverage with fashion seems to be a popular choice for luxury brands, so much so that they go big on their ventures in the luxury hospitality industry.

Louis Vuitton recently opened a cafe, Le Cafe V, and a restaurant, Sugalabo V, atop its stunning Japan boutique location, Maison Osaka Midosuji.

The cafe offers a menu by celebrity chef Yosuke Suga, which includes $13-lattes with LV monogram foam, among others. It is also home to Le Chocolat V, a chocolate boutique featuring monogrammed flavored chocolates.

The restaurant, meanwhile, also headed by Chef Suga, has on-brand interiors with a private and exclusive feel. It operates on an invitation-only system, after all, where diners can get a taste of luxury on a plate, starting at $275.

Similarly, Fendi, for its Summer 2021 collection, has opened Fendi Caffe in Miami, just across its boutique in the state’s design district.

The pop-up cafe—hard-to-miss because of its ultra-bright interiors featuring yellow FF Vertigo adorning walls, tables, chairs, and planters—serves up coffee with the brand’s signature logo, a fusion of local fare and Italian dishes, as well as pastries and paninis in special Fendi packaging.

Other brands like Tiffany & Co. (Tiffany Blue Box), Burberry (Thomas’ Cafe), Dior (Cafe Dior), Prada (Pasticceria Marchesi), Armani (Emporio Armani Caffe and Ristorante), Vivienne Westwood (Vivienne Westwood Cafe), Gucci (Gucci Osteria and 1921 Gucci), and even Ferrari (Ferrari Ristorante) have also tried their hand on operating dining spots.

Homeware

As the pandemic forced people to stay home, luxury brands have seen the furniture and decor needs of their clients.

Off-White, in late 2020, responded with an extensive 80-piece home collection—it’s biggest yet—featuring chairs, doormats, kitchen ceramics, bed furnishings, and even toothbrushes.

Available in black, grey and beige tones with accents in fluorescent pink and orange, all items feature the brand’s unique design elements such as meteor holes and quotation marks.

“For this special collection, I’ve taken familiar items in the home and produced them in a way akin to my personal signatures prioritizing craftsmanship,” Abloh has said in a press release. “[It celebrates] the ideals of the sophisticated modernity of Off-White.”

The collection is a follow up to his inaugural furniture collection at Art Basel in Miami in 2016, as well as a series of homeware including ceramics and bed and bath products, all under the Home label.

Abloh is also known for his 2019 collaboration with Swedish furniture maker IKEA, which is a 15-piece collection including a rug that looks like a receipt.

Long before the pandemic, however, brands like Fendi (Fendi Casa), Bottega Veneta (Bottega Veneta Home), Giorgio Armani (Armani Casa), Gucci (Gucci Decor), and Louis Vuitton (Objets Nomad) have all branched out to home decor. The current situation has only proven how lucrative the venture can be.

Clothing and motoring

One would expect Ferrari to continue making its mark in the automotive industry, but the Italian luxury sports car manufacturer has been pouring efforts into another pursuit all along—clothing.

Racing down the runway just recently is its first full-fledged fashion collection, showcasing a youthful ready-to-wear collection. Both styles for men and women—trench coats, bomber jackets, parkas, and loose-fitting trousers—bear the Ferrari red, the Scuderia yellow and electric blue, as well as the brand’s name or logo. Also mirroring the roots of the carmaker are rubberized and reflective tape accents.

The brand’s current creative director and designer of the collection, Rocco Iannone, has had stints in Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, making him more than capable to take the Ferrari name off the race track and onto the fashion runway.

Car makers are not the only luxury brand venturing into clothing lines. It happens the other way around, too. Christian Dior in collaboration with Vespa, is about to release fashionable scooters at $19,999 a unit.

Designed by Dior’s creative director for women’s collections, Maria Grazia Chiuri, the scooter comes with a top case and a helmet bearing the Dior Oblique motif.

The said fashion collaboration is only the second for Vespa, which released an Armani edition of the same scooter in 2015 with design input from Giorgio Armani himself.

Beauty

Wherever fashion is, beauty tends to follow. This is why when brands like Hermes, Celine, and Gucci launched their perfume, makeup, and skincare lines in the last three years, it only made the head-to-toe experience of the said luxury designer experience possible.

Celine, in particular, is focusing on its collection of fragrances inspired by the memories from creative director Hedi Slimane’s olfactory journal, which is his record of scents, memories, and experiences.

The current range labelled Celine Haute Perfurmerie, the first in the brand’s long history, includes 11 perfumes in gender-neutral scents.

Over at Gucci, which first introduced beauty products back in 2014, has only noticeably upped its ante with a 2018 Instagram launch.

In 2019, Gucci, with Alessandro Michele at the helm, introduced a lipstick collection with a whopping 58 shades. A year later, Michele further experimented with the shade range through Rouge a Levres Gothique, a series of metallic shades with a deep black undertone.

The 183-year-old Hermes, meanwhile, has also debuted a line of lipsticks called Hermes Rouge. It’s a far cry from its crafty identity, specializing in leather goods, ready-to-wear clothes, accessories, and home furnishings.

All 24 shades are drawn from the brand’s iconic silks and are packaged in the same metal hardware used on Hermes bags.

All these are belated but much-anticipated efforts to dabble in the cosmetics realm, just like Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent, among others.

Banner Photo from @Fendi on Instagram

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