The word ‘timeless’ is often synonymous with luxury: from ready-to-wear collections to fragrances, the phrase evokes the longevity and quality of exquisite products – pieces worthy of consumers’ investment. Luxury goods are undeniably well-made, a sentiment affirmed by Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH: “What made Louis Vuitton famous was the quality… We create products which are exceptional in their design and craftsmanship.”
While physical goods reflect the time, patience and craftsmanship of luxury labels, today’s discerning consumers are searching for something more. Millennials seek unique experiences and memories that allow them to feel integrated into a brand’s identity. After all, we can’t buy time, but we can buy into a feeling.
The Harvard Business Review states that an experience occurs when “a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates unique and memorable events” – a theatre of unforgettable experiences. So how are luxury brands making their craftsmanship tangible?
Bespoke and by appointment only
Offering services by appointment only has become associated with a bespoke, experiential economy that is designed to reflect precision, excellence and the personal attention that consumers desire.
Positive Luxury brand Gyunel Couture caters to the world’s most elite couture clients at its luxury Knightsbridge atelier situated close to Harrods. Each piece is a testament to the label’s high level of craftsmanship using the finest customised fabrics and rare silks, often featuring intricate hand embroidery. Every element of the design process is tailored to the client, with meticulous consultation and personal fittings being an integral part of the experience. Painstaking craftsmanship perpetuating age-old skills are handed down from generation to generation with hundreds of hours of work taken to make a single piece.
Equally, brands that provide uniquely traceable products offer the consumer a more individual approach to shopping. Fréolic London, an award-winning luxury lingerie brand created with meticulously hand-picked fabrics from France, England and Italy, ensures that every design is accompanied by a Dentelle de Calais-Caudry certificate marked with a unique serial number. This guarantees that their rare fabrics are made according to centuries-old tradition and methods of thread intertwining, a skill specific to this region of France– and, therefore, the product’s origins become part of the experience.
The rise of made-to-order
Today’s consumer seeks experiences from mission-driven luxury brands who have incorporated responsible business practices into their company DNA. Illustrating their commitment to responsible practices, a growing number of designers are incorporating innovative fabrics into collections and working with socially responsible manufacturers to produce on a made-to-order basis.
Bozena Jankowska has created a responsible womenswear label comprising of limited-edition capsule collections that are inspired by environmental and social issues. Striving to make a positive impact on the planet, a proportion of the brand’s profits funds the work of partner organisations championing like-minded causes. Jankowska’s first capsule collection, ‘Ode to the Bee’, focuses on the ecological significance of bees, and the label has partnered with ‘Buglife’ to support their crucial environmental work, with 3% of proceeds from each purchase going to support the cause.
Dedicated to designing beautifully tasteful lingerie, nightwear and loungewear, Bodas was early to the concept of making a capsule collection. Made from the highest quality fabrics from France, Italy, the USA and Wales, the brand offers a consumer a considered edit of stylish sleepwear that can be explored online and in its London boutique as part of the experience.
An experiential future
In this constantly-on digital world, physical interaction is once again gaining impetus. Since 50% of people would remain loyal provided they felt integrated into a brand’s aesthetic and ethical identity, offering an experience that goes beyond merely buying or shopping online is an effective way to transform them into loyal brand advocates.
Indeed, Farfetch launched its Store of the Future last year to create an even richer retail environment, enabling boutiques and brands to move seamlessly between the offline and online experience. As José Neves, Farfetch Founder, Co-Chairman and CEO, says: “Physical retail accounts for 93 per cent of sales today, and even with online growing at fast speed, it will account for 80 per cent by 2025.” Never has it been more important to put the customer at the centre of the shopping journey to better serve them wherever they are.
Smart luxury brands understand the need to actively engage and build a relationship with the consumer, showcasing their craftsmanship at its finest and offering the opportunity to truly connect in both ‘offline’ experiences and real encounters.
Cover image credit: Gyunel Couture