Luxury Experiences: The Way Forward for the World’s Largest Fashion Houses

Posted on September 07 2020

 Photo Credits: @marchesi1824, @thepolobar, @gucciosteria


Last Friday, the South China Morning Post published an article looking into the reality of the world’s biggest fashion houses in a COVID-19 world. 


And while experience-based luxury has undoubtedly been impacted by the pandemic, the article suggests that COVID-19 does not need to signal the end of brands tying their names to experiences outside of the fashion sphere. Rather, it might just be the start of something new. 


Pre-pandemic, luxury fashion brands were on a roll in creating a reputation beyond the clothing that they sell. With restaurants, hotel chains, and private services around the world, luxury fashion houses have become a trusted resource far beyond understanding customers' wardrobes. 


“Prada owns the historic Milanese pastry shop Marchesi, Ralph Lauren has chichi bars, and Kering’s Gucci has opened Osteria restaurants in Italy’s Florence and Los Angeles in the US with three-Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura,” the article points out. So it's no surprise that these other aspects of the world's biggest brands might be suffering as well. 


For these fashion houses who involve themselves in so much more, what does it mean now that restaurants are closed, hotels are far less in-demand and international travel is out of the question? 


Although sales of luxury fashion are expected to fall throughout 2020, the article suggests that experiential branding might remain a worthy endeavour. Despite limitations caused by the pandemic, there are new avenues that brands can explore to relate to their most fervent fans and customers.


“If fewer Chinese tourists are coming to Europe, there may be opportunities to export branded experiences to China, where luxury spending is recovering,” for example. “Burberry’s Thomas’s cafe in London might not have reopened yet, but the one in its new Shenzhen store opened in partnership with Tencent has.”


Most notably, COVID-19 might provide opportunities for luxury fashion brands to position themselves within the health and wellness space, offering their customers a haven during uncertain times. Popular interest in wellness has been growing over the past few years, but with new restrictions and distancing measures, it is more prominent than ever before. Perhaps fashion houses will start offering secluded spa treatments, and fitness classes in elite, socially distanced and safe settings. 


The article concludes by highlighting that the current situation is far from easy. However, a long-term approach that establishes close relationships with customers now through experience-based luxury, can be a feature that will strengthen the world’s biggest players in fashion right now. The ones that will come out on top are the ones who are unafraid to take the risks required to maintain a reputation and interest, even in a changing marketplace. 


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