With 2022 almost behind us, this is a good moment to take stock and recognise some of the moments where the luxury and luxury travel retail markets truly excelled themselves in the past 12 months.
Despite the challenges and calls from many – myself among them – for brands and retailers to think bigger and do better, there have been many times over the last year where luxury has truly shown its value. From striking collaborations, to innovative approaches, here are some of my highlights from the last year.
Luxury’s gaming collaborations
Balenciaga made global headlines last year with a striking Fortnite partnership that took over London’s Picadilly Circus, but this year fashion and luxury brands made the world of gaming their new frontier – and it led to excellent and innovative partnerships. From Gucci and Roblox, to Ralph Lauren and Fortnite, or Balmain’s collaborations with Pokémon and Need For Speed, each of these was a great example of connecting with consumers where they already are in new and engaging ways.
Moncler celebrates its 70th Anniversary
Moncler has been riding high in recent years, with incredible new stores and collections, leveraging its brand experience and Genius collection to create innovative experiences for shoppers. In September, the brand marked its 70th anniversary with a breath-taking show in Milan’s famous Piazza del Duomo with 1,952 artists appearing dressed in the brand’s Maya 70 Jacket, in a show choreographed by Sadeck Berrabah.
Winter Olympics creates new ambassadors
As the demands from shoppers for transparency and interaction have changed, so too has what many brands look for in ambassadors. The days of Instagram influencers who offer little but a filtered lifestyle are waning and people who can offer real stories and achievements are being snapped up by brands. The Winter Olympics was a great example of luxury brands working with people from outside their field to engage new consumers; skier Eileen Gu, who has endorsements from brands such as Tiffany & Co and IWC is the prime example.
Travel Retail’s luxury upgrade
Luxury brands have really upped their game this year in the travel retail setting, making the most of the rapid increase in traveller numbers and the ‘Revenge Shopping’ trend which has also touched the market. Moncler’s new outlet at Frankfurt Airport and Dolce & Gabbana’s in Venice both opened during the summer and showcased how to deliver a true brand experience which is both authentic and tailored to the needs of travel retail and its shoppers.
Balenciaga goes bold in Bond Street
Physical stores are finding a new place in the retail ecosystem today. Now, with digital engagement almost omnipresent, stores must offer a seamless experience, alongside something a bit special. Balenciaga’s Bond Street store certainly hit the mark, with a brutalist design that created buzz and excitement though its stripped-back look which was more reminiscent of a warehouse than a luxury boutique.
Lotte focuses on luxury and the Metaverse
While Lotte Duty Free set out its plans for Metaverse stores with a first look at how they might work, the retailer also doubled down on the importance of luxury for shoppers with the launch of Sogong 1st Avenue, the first online duty-free luxury store. With 5,000 items, the store has a unique digital identity which allows brands and luxury to flourish in the way that only it can.
Jacquemus in Paris
While Balenciaga went brutal, Jacquemus went comforting with its new Paris store at Galleries Lafayette. The brand, which is making waves with innovative ideas in the market, worked with Dutch studio OMA to line the walls of its store with pillows for a cosy, bedroom effect which caught the attention of shoppers and new fans alike.
With all this behind us, I am excited for what the industry can create in 2023 and I wish you all a very happy and successful next year.