I was recently invited to participate in a discussion group on the luxury/retail market, along with twenty or so ‘industry experts’ – I can hardly be classified as an expert but it was a privilege to be included in such an interesting debate. The discussion centred on how the recession has impacted the sales of luxury goods and what the future holds for this category. There were two observations that everyone around the table agreed upon.
The first was that although it hasn’t been easy for luxury brands to thrive in the economic downturn, sales of the most premium items (we’re talking £20,000 watches and the like) have actually held up pretty well. It’s the products that sit at the bottom end of the luxury market and the top end of the mass market that have fared the worst (the £3000 watches). In the other words, the super-rich are still enjoying their wealth with abandon whereas the ‘entry-level’ luxury lovers are holding back.
The second (fashion specific) observation was around the growing popularity of the so-called cruise collections – for non-fashion geeks reading this, such collections are defined as the “inter-season or pre-season line of ready-to-wear clothing produced by a fashion houses in addition to the twice-yearly seasonal collections”. The hypothesis for the increased desirability of such collections is that since people are buying fewer luxury items, when they do splash out it is on limited edition pieces that are not being sported by everyone else on the lunching lady/cruising/winter sun circuit. These pieces satisfy the need for originality but with the safety of a big brand name attached to them. The down-side of this emerging trend is that where once the wealthy may have turned to a less-known designers for their original pieces, they are now sticking with the labels that they know, meaning that upcoming designers are losing out.
Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to be choosing between either of these options but I have to say, if all the cruise collections are as gorgeous and fresh as the Stella McCartney one, it’s no wonder the fashion elite are fighting to get their hands on them.
Check out these delightful numbers…