Luxury’s New World
By Wanda Jankowski
Quality may still be king in the luxury sector as suppliers weigh in on what affluent consumers seem to want in this era of recession recovery
Suppliers of luxury home textiles have reacted in varied ways to the slow economy, some holding firm to original philosophies and materials; others, changing or adding to their product make-ups to satisfy consumers in search of greater affordability.
“Customers’ expectations have become higher during the recession. It has become more important as a company to be special and maintain our high level of quality and customer service,” says Glenna Rimmer, founder, Florabella. The Dallas-based family business was established in 1998, introducing high-end resort beachwear while offering a limited collection of home textiles.
“Our company philosophy is built on the quality of our product and the use of the finest natural fibers and materials. By maintaining our company philosophy, Florabella has experienced tremendous growth in all of our divisions over the past few years,” she says.
Other suppliers report signs of renewed life in the luxury sector.
| Natural Beauty
The Florabella Home Collection includes the 100 percent linen Tulip duvet in steel, the 100 percent cotton voile Freesia dust ruffle, and a variety of decorative pillows made with silk/cotton, linen and cotton voile. The duvet is offered in varied sizes. In addition to steel (shown), other colors offered are white, bisque and celadon.
The Tiara ensemble from Fino Lino pairs an ornate repeated medallion design with a pattern of stripes in varying widths.
| Unique Designs
Ellery Homestyles introduces the Australian brand, Linen House, with which it has an exclusive licensing arrangement. The luxury collection of bedding, throws and accessories is inspired by nature and architecture. Shown is Armande in natural.
| Year Of The Dragon
Natori’s Barware Collection features a variety of different metals and intricate techniques, including three-dimensional dragon details (shown in the piece below), an elegant fretwork pattern and wood grain carved in metal.
The Marea Linen Collection from Dea is made with not-to-be-ironed linen prewashed to make the fabric soft, fresh and light. The collection, made in Italy with a tailored construction, is offered in 16 colors, allowing for personalized combinations via mixing and matching.
| Garden Of Eden
The cotton sateen MaiJuin printed ensemble draws its name from the MaiJuin (Eden) rose. On an eggshell background, each flower features a heart of ruby pink with surrounding petals lightening progressively to pale pearlescent pink. The coordinating motif, seen in the light grey decorative pillows and sham, consists of nestling petals and sepals.
Adagio from Bella Notte Linens is a blossoming jacquard available in fawn, flax, sable and sand (shown) colorways. Shown are the throw and kidney pillows. The collection also includes deluxe shams, a large throw blanket and a personal comforter. Also featured in the image is the Colette duvet cover, satin velvet quilted coverlet and silk velvet embroidered decorative pillowcases; and Madera sheets and silk velvet embroidered pouf.
|Temple Of Beauty
The Lotus Temple coverlet features a traditional cloud quilting pattern with multi-row chain stitch borders in Natoribamboo™ Obi jacquard. The Duvet is signature Dragon jacquard in Natoribamboo™ fabric. The reversible Euro shams are embroidered with Lotus Temple and Dragon motifs. Decorative pillows are embroidered on lightweight raw silk accented with carved golden jade.
“I noticed a pulse in the last six months—the market seems ready to be inspired again,” says Taylor Gunnell, media relations, Bella Notte Linens. “Consumers understand the value and are willing to pay for creative design and quality products.”
This Spring, Bella Notte Linens will introduce its Tabletop Collection of tablecloths, napkins and placemats in an assortment of signature fabrics. A print program will launch later in 2012.
“We are seeing major growth despite the recession,” says Jean-Baptiste de Jaham, U.S. president, Yves Delorme. “People are looking for unique and quality items. They do not want to spend money for products that do not last or that have no creativity and identity.
“We’ve really mined our history this season and have launched many classic Yves Delorme style prints,” says de Jaham. “Our existing customers seem to want more of what they came to our brand for in the first place, and in many cases, that was for our prints. Those newer to the Yves Delorme brand are also attracted to our prints, which represent a trend towards a lifestyle that is less minimalist and more vibrant and creative.
“We are reaching out to different types of customers as well with varied types of promotions and communication visuals and outlets, such as social media and our own blogsite,” concludes de Jaham. “Also contributing to growth is our partnership with Mis en Demeure, a luxury French furniture manufacturer, that continues to enrich our overall lifestyle concept.”
Deborah Bonefont, national sales manager, Dea USA, sees a change in customers’ buying habits. “They are moving away from basics back to the more elaborate custom embroideries and laces,” she says. “The resistance for products made in China has remained the same.”
Dea is focused on developing a wider range of fabrics and designs to encompass all lifestyles, from elegant and traditional to casual elegance.
“The new luxury consumer finds more value in heritage and craftsmanship, seeking innovative products with ingenuity, integrity and passion,” states Josie Natori, founder, The Natori Company. “Natori has always taken pride in the craftsmanship and heritage of its bedding. Most beds are inspired by antiquities in either my personal collection or discovered through extensive research of Eastern trends.”
The Natori Company has expanded its product category reach and its perception as a lifestyle brand. In Fall 2011, the Natori Home Accents line, which includes trays, stools, picture frames and tableware, was launched at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Saks. This Spring, the Natori Barware Collection will debut.
Seven Trends To Watch
Jean-Marc Bellaiche, senior partner and managing director, The Boston Consulting Group, explored “The New World of Luxury” in his presentation recently for The Luxury Marketing Council in New York, citing seven key trends shaping the luxury market overall today:
TREND 1: The affluent consumer mindset has changed from “owning” to “being.”
In the U.S., affluent mature Baby Boomers have enough “stuff” and are looking for luxury life-enhancing experiences. Younger Generation Y customers crave instant pleasure from purchases, which also ties in with the experiential trend.
This shift marks a value change from extra-luxury (outwardly opulent displays) to intra-luxury (goods that capture authenticity, craftsmanship).
ACTION: Expand into “experiential” goods categories.
TREND 2: Serve the needs of multi-faceted affluent consumer segments.
There are new customer segments that have their own buying habits. For example, women are self-purchasers today, not relying as much on spouses or others to buy luxury goods for them.
ACTION: Understand the buying habits of different segments of your audience.
TREND 3: Tend to the buying behaviors of rising markets and continued needs in existing ones.
China will be the number one market for personal luxury goods by 2015. It will take time for these consumers to own enough goods to go the next level in which they crave experiential luxuries. Brazil and India also present growing opportunities for sales of luxe goods.
ACTION: Farm immature countries and hunt in emerging ones for new customers.
TREND 4: There is a fading clarity about the true nature of luxury among consumers.
Boundaries have been blurring between luxury and mass goods. Celebrated designers are creating lines for moderate-priced venues (ex. Jimmy Choo for H&M). The crossover confuses consumers when it comes to valuing luxury goods.
ACTION: Invent ways to compete against mass merchants, such as by price stretching—producing and selling ultra-outstanding items moderate retailers can’t touch.
TREND 5: New business models and retail formats are developing.
New business models for luxury goods are succeeding that feature long-term licensing partnerships. To delight consumers at the point of sale, pop-up stores are emerging, in addition to co-branded, localized and even philanthropic stores, whose profits are in part donated to charity.
ACTION: Consider new business models and create surprise at the point of sale.
TREND 6: There will be an increase in one-on-one relationships with customers.
Luxury marketing will increasingly involve creating loyal customers who serve as “brand apostles,” furnishing positive referrals to friends and family members. Orchestrating contact across all customer touch points will be critical.
ACTION: Build in opportunities along the sales process for more intimate connections with your customers.
TREND 7: Digital marketing is a necessity today.
Social networking and other online channels provide the means to sell in quick, qualitative ways. They also afford opportunities to create a new dialogue between the brand and consumers, with consumer input influencing product development.
ACTION: Create a web presence and digitize your brand.
Hugo Boss Launches Boss Home Collection
Hugo Boss has launched the Boss Home Collection of bedding, bath and beach products licensed through Sunham Home Fashions.
“The Boss Home line is most inspired by the Boss Black women’s wear lines, focusing on individual style and minimalist looks for the home, mixing classic tailoring with abstract prints and sophisticated wovens,” says Megan Wiseman, brand manager, licensed brand division, Sunham Home Fashions. “Subtle tailoring, silky fabrics, leather details and a hint of characteristic Hugo Boss add a feminine flair to the classic contemporary Hugo Boss.”
The Spring/Summer 2012 Boss Home Collection includes seven bedding ensembles (shown is Windsor). The abstract Italian prints and jacquards are rendered in purples, grays, metallic neutrals and white.
Boss Home also features bath towels in deep color tones and soft, absorbent fabrics that include a solid series with a rouched cuff and textural options that layer together. Designs for the beach line of oversized towels are influenced by seasonal trends, such as bright colors and geometric shapes.
Hugo Boss home products will launch exclusively at Bloomingdale’s for three months and will be available thereafter at additional department and specialty stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Ellery Homestyles, which offers a broad range of home textiles at varied price points, serves the luxury sector through two new collaborations.
“Ellery Homestyles is proud to introduce the Linen House brand from Australia, with which we have an exclusive licensing arrangement,” says Susan Lazor, director of brand management, Ellery Homestyles. “The luxury collection of bedding, throws and accessories is inspired by nature, architecture and individuality. Each ensemble has a unique story behind the artist’s inspiration for its design.”
Ellery Homestyles introduced the Historic Charleston Collection™ in 2011 as a licensee of the Historic Charleston Foundation. In the first quarter of 2012, the Historic Charleston Collection will expand to include non-matelassé bedding and quilt ensembles.
Fino Lino has responded to the recession by introducing two new lines: one made with synthetics that maintains a haute couture look at an affordable price; the other, a washable, washed linen line that projects a casual look with appeal for younger customers.
Murray Massre, president, Fino Lino believes that customers have changed over the past few years. “They are really into name brands today. More and more consumers are buying online, so they are not feeling and seeing the product before they purchase. They buy it because of the brand name,” he says.
Fino Lino’s Massre calls this age the “outlet era,” in which some high-end brands have extended their reach by creating lesser quality products for their outlet stores. Do consumers really know the difference?
“Aspirational products might not be the same quality, but have a similar perceived value to true luxury,” says Sunham’s Wiseman. “The recession caused companies to think outside the box and come up with innovative ways to produce goods that cater to a more mass distribution, while still maintaining the equity of the brand. A loyal brand follower understands the difference—keeping the clear line between true luxury and aspirational product.”
Bonefont states, “Dea feels the truly affluent consumer will always want to shop where cost and convenience are not the only criteria and prefer the quality, uniqueness and services offered by the luxury retailer.”
Natori shares an insightful perspective into changes in buying habits. “Affluent consumers today shop everywhere from Target to Neiman Marcus, so their shopping habits have broadened, buying a variety of products. Shoppers are also more and more informed about the products they’re purchasing, so I believe they still see a clear difference between luxury and mass products. They are simply more conscious of when to purchase which,” says Natori.
“It’s true the market has become saturated with a variety of brands that are high-moderate, but in home textiles, there’s a definite difference between those pieces and true luxury styles that your average consumer can see and feel,” she concludes.
The luxury sector is alive, well and maintaining its distinctive edge against the tide of lesser quality goods on the market.
- Bella Notte Linens, 415-883-3434, bellanottelinens.com
- Dea, 561-640-3554, dea-italy.it
- Ellery Homestyles, LLC, 212-684-5364, elleryhomestyles.com
- Fino Lino, 800-829-3466, finolino.com
- Florabella, 214-828-9299, flora-bella.com
- The Natori Company, 212-532-7796, natori.com
- Sunham Home Fashions, 812-378-8872, sunham.com
- Yves Delorme, 800-322-3911, yvesdelorme.com