Sustainable luxury design at the 2012 Oscars

Isaac Mostovicz writes that ecologically aware designs at 2012's Oscars mean greater exposure for luxury brands ...

An interesting article in the Financial Times talks about the prevalence towards sustainable design in this year’s Oscar dresses.

Livia Firth, wife of actor Colin Firth and eco-fashion campaigner, launched a “Green Carpet Challenge” to high end designers in 2009 which invites them to create red-carpet designs using only sustainable materials. So far names such as Armani and Gucci have responded, creating luxury garments fashioned from ethical materials that don’t compromise on desirability.

Image courtesy of Stock.XCHNG

At this year’s Oscar’s the winning “Red Carpet Green Dress” dress which was designed by Valentina Delfino will be worn by Missi Pyle, an actress in nominated film The Artist – meaning significant exposure for an ecologically-sound design.

This kind of “upcycling”, or the next wave of recycling, is not an entirely new trend. British designer duo Clements Ribiero is one brand that has been considering the sustainability aspects of their designs for some time.

They comment: “We didn’t start off to create a conscience product. But, if we do our bit to help, it is an added bonus. For us it was more a case of finding astounding fabric at vintage fairs, beautiful hand-crafted bits that told a story – it was a pity to see that all go to waste.”

Other designers such as Christopher Raeburn and jewellery designer Katherine Alexander have embraced this trend, with lines created almost exclusively out of re-appropriated or otherwise “scrap” materials.

Running a luxury brand in a ‘sustainable’ manner makes sense from a marketing point of view – previous articles on this blog have discussed the damage to brands that could disadvantage them as they compete for global customers if they are seen to be unsustainable.

Within Janusian thinking, this kind of sustainable luxury has the greatest appeal to a Lambda. The knowledge that the product has a rich history embedded within it, particularly in the case of Clements Ribiero’s designs, is what spurs this kind of consumer, whereas for a Theta, the appeal would come more from purchasing a product from a high-end brand.

Later this spring Firth will introduce a sustainable collaboration with It will be interesting to see whether increased consumer demand will force more luxury brands to consider sustainability as a central part of their business agenda.

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Luxury at your convenience

Isaac Mostovicz writes that luxury marketers are finding increasingly creative ways to target South Korean consumers....

Image courtesy of Homeplus

In the wake of Kim Jong Il’s death and the changes taking place in North Korea, I was interested to read a recent article on Reuters that discussed the ways luxury marketers are targeting South Koreans.


I have previously written on the trend for Chinese consumers to purchase fake luxury carrier bags, demonstrating that the Asian love affair with luxury seemingly continues to go from strength to strength.


As the world’s 13th largest economy and an increasingly affluent base of consumers, marketers have offered consumers there a novel way of purchasing luxury goods – through mass-market access.


South Koreans will now be able to purchase designers items during their weekly shop at Seven Eleven. The chain, ubiquitous throughout South East Asia, also sold Gucci shoulder bags and wallets during Korea’s Thanksgiving festival in September.


“It was a big success, and we are thinking of expanding our luxury gift line to other accessories for the New Year,” said Seven-Eleven marketing official Cho Yun-jung.


But it’s not just convenience retailers like Seven Eleven that are cornering this market. Retailers Tesco and Lotte Mart, an Asian hypermarket, are also selling Chanel, Prada, Ferragamo and Balenciaga.


The luxury goods market is booming in Korea, with sales growing “at least 12% to an estimated $4.5 million last year,” according to a report by McKinsey & Company in August. This can be attributed to demographics – with more working women who have additional disposable incomes – as well as tourists from nearby China and Japan, who stock up on luxury goods in trips to the region, attracted by South Korea’s cheap currency.


Furthermore, South Koreans have increased access to credit as local banks are eager to provide shoppers with tailored credit cards to fund their spending habits, for example the Hyundai Card which offers “the Black” and “the Purple,” with various luxury life style-friendly features.


The Financial Times has reported that the latest strategy of French luxury giants in Korea is investing in affluent districts such as Chungdham and Apgujeong-dong.


It seems South Korea is the latest strategic location where luxury marketers are investing to strengthen their brands.

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Gucci versus Gucci: battle of the luxury brands

Isaac Mostovicz writes that Gucci may have a naming issue to deal with...

A luxury company must vigilantly protect its brand to ensure that it remains in control of its image. A company like Gucci certainly wouldn’t want other parties to misappropriate its trademark or the look of its products in counterfeit goods. But what happens when your company’s name is the same as someone else’s, and this person, while related to your founder, wants to set up a completely different company?

Gucci is attempting to answer just this question at the moment. Elisabetta Gucci, great-granddaughter of founder Guccio Gucci, and artistic director of an Italian interiors and accessories company, recently announced that she is putting her name on a luxury hotel that plans to open in Dubai next year, with the hope of starting a chain of hotels. The fashion house has issued a statement clarifying that it has nothing to do with Ms. Gucci’s plans, and said “”If necessary, Gucci will take any needful step to protect its rights.”

It’s an interesting conundrum. Elisabetta Gucci can say that she isn’t trying to take advantage of her famous heritage, but in my opinion, if that were the case, the hotel could have chosen a different name (though in that case we probably wouldn’t have heard about it). So there’s certainly publicity value in her name, whether or not she actively tries to dissociate herself from Gucci the company. We’ll have to see how much Elisabetta Gucci’s hotel matches the fashion house’s aesthetic, and whether the fashion house will make good on its threat if the two are similar.

Photo by Kai on Flickr.

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Handbags: Price over label?

Isaac Mostovicz writes...


Earlier this month the Luxury Institute released a survey that found that when buying a handbag, men in the US are more concerned with the label than with the price compared to women. 73% of men looked first to the label when buying a handbag (compared to 50% of women), and men were three times as likely to choose Chanel.

It would have been interesting if the Luxury Institute had determined (or at least released) what the actually percentage of spending on handbags is for men versus women. I have a sneaking suspicion that women purchase the vast majority of handbags for themselves and men buy only a tiny percentage as gifts. US leather goods seller Coach was the most familiar brand of designer handbags, recognized by 52% of respondents. 24% recognized Gucci, 22% Louis Vuitton and 21% Prada.

This makes sense—Coach bags are relatively mid-range (costing several hundred dollars) compared to European labels whose bags can cost in the thousands. Men may choose the fancy bags on the basis of brand but women are buying more of the cheaper Coach bags as they’re less concerned with label compared to other factors like price and quality.

If it is true that women buy the vast majority of handbags, the marketing challenge is then to get men to buy more handbags for women. This completely opposes the status quo in the jewelry industry, in which the goal is for women to buy more jewelry for themselves.

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