Source: The Chriselle Factor
While technology has somewhat evened out the playing field between fashion startups and global luxury brands, the success and longevity of legacy brands along the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès are not to be downplayed.
True luxury brands in particular have managed to cultivate an image of timelessness, despite shifting consumer values and quickening production cycles that threaten to upset luxury’s retail dominion. These brands have mastered the emotional pull; they understand the psychological triggers that motivate a seemingly impractical purchase. More importantly, they know how to integrate their products into peoples’ lives.
This has been no mean feat; requiring luxury brands to exhaust every move in the playbook and to find new ways to innovate. In their efforts to locate the sweet spot between critical and commercial success, luxury brands have even relented on their once-resolute stance against e-commerce. Here, we’ve identified some of the key factors necessary to the success of a luxury fashion label today.
Balance exclusivity and accessibility
Fashion’s luxury megabrands have long straddled a tightrope when it comes to exclusivity and accessibility, seducing customers with handsome, exorbitant goods that convey taste, rarity and prestige, while conspiring to move inventory at ever increasing volumes. Brands like Hermès maintain an aura of exclusivity by orienting perception towards the brand’s heritage and craft credentials. In addition, it has made it difficult for customers to get their hands on its star products — the coveted and chronically waitlisted Birkin and Kelly bags. But let’s face it; exclusivity in real terms is not good for the bottom line. So although luxury fashion brands are still primarily targeted at high-net-worth individuals, they are increasingly opening their channels to the masses. The timing is ripe, considering today’s consumers are less concerned about the rarity of their possessions and more interested in the experience and production practices behind them.
Create a unique retail experience
The luxury market is still very much distinguished through in-store experiences. Brands like Chanel, Gucci and Burberry are flexing their higher-status with customised, out-of-the-box retail experiences in order to attract more customers to their stores. Blending technology with couture, Burberry’s global flagship in London’s Regent Street boasts an enriched and interactive experience complete with interactive digital screens that stream bespoke multimedia content. Mirrors are instantly transmuted into screens displaying runway footage while satellite technology enables the live streaming of events. Not to be outdone, brands such as Gucci and Longchamp have staged highly publicised artisan workshops and exhibitions within its stores, giving consumers a close-up view of the skills and labour that goes into a single handmade luxury item. Encouraging participation in such ‘behind the scenes’ processes creates room for good storytelling, and helps consumers feel closer to the brand. Following in the footsteps of the luxury leaders, we’ve seen more and more brands taking the more ‘considered’ approach; challenging the notions of traditional retail by investing in inspirational showrooms where one is able to experience, appreciate and learn about the brand.
Leverage user-generated content
What better way to demonstrate a product’s popularity and efficacy than by having it field-tested by real people? Burberry has effectively harnessed the capabilities of the user-powered campaign in its project titled the “Art of the Trench”. Banking on the universal appeal of its iconic trench coat, the “Art of the Trench” showcases plebeians and style influencers alike styling their Burberry trench coats to suit different weather, lifestyles and preferences. The campaign has really taken off, with customers from Shanghai to Los Angeles joining forces to celebrate the classic outerwear of choice. Roping in social media influencers are likely to help such campaigns resonate better with the growing digital generation.