In a recent visit to Milano, the Italian capital of fashion, I could notice the almost exclusive presence of foreigners in the famous luxury brands stores. During the last 5 years, experts and consultants in the luxury industry agree that we are facing a change of direction for the luxury brands in Italy. The first to do this was Dolce Gabbana, and their collections were more and more almost exclusively created for Russia and China. Armani and Versace soon followed. Many would say this was a normal trend, but what is to happen with the Italian or European customer?
I’ve asked many Italians the reason for them not entering Dolce Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli or Versace anymore. The almost unanimous answer was “there’s nothing for us to buy”. All products are made for the eastern markets, with sharp design, loud colours and a strong direction towards accessories, trends that are not at all liked by Italians. The same trend could be noticed at giant Gucci, where almost 70 percent of all collections are for eastern markets. There’s also the segment dedicated exclusively to Russia and the eastern markets: DSquared, Dirk Bikkembergs and John Richmond.
Until recently Russian and Japanese customers dictated design trends, but apparently the crisis has asserted the taste of Chinese, Indians and Mexicans.
There are also famous brands trying to fight off this trend. Among these: Loro Piana, Brioni, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Bottega Veneta.
Top brands have successfully experimented associations with the mass market Top Shop or H&M without diluting the brands in the past. However, in the case of an excessive specialisation for certain markets, the long-term success for the brands is no longer so certain.
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