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Debating Authenticity, Maturity, Fakes & the Future

Passing Judgement


With ever more sophisticated technology as an enabler, the cat and mouse game between counterfeiters and luxury conglomerates has become increasingly complex over a very short span of time. In the last couple of years, the battle lines have been drawn mostly across the internet “” and often with murky legal results. A case back in March which saw Google “mostly win’ in a ruling over LVMH was initially applauded because a European Union court upheld Google’s right to sell trademark-protected brand names like Louis Vuitton as searchable keywords to third-party advertisers (some allegedly selling fakes).

But now that the law is about to come into effect, media outlets like Bloomberg are revisiting the case. To get a better sense of the potential loopholes and grey areas left in the legislation, however, it’s worth reading a piece written by an IP lawyer for The Scotsman who has explored the case deeper to see how far brands might be able to control discounting, sales channels and much more in the years to come. The landmark trial may have been over months ago but the real test is only about to begin. (more…)

Spring Shoots & a New Swagger


Heritage makes way for bold tactics and a new sense of optimism

It’s one of the biggest lessons learnt from the financial downturn: the smart luxury brands stuck to core brand values and redoubled focus on their heritage. Indeed, there has been so much praise lavished on brands that played it safe and staunchly refused to diversify that it’s escaped notice that these very companies are already moving on and limbering up for a new approach.

As the first major luxury company to step into the fray with its first-quarter results, LVMH emerged significantly toughened with stronger-than-expected figures tantamount to a 13% rise in like-for-like sales growth to $6 billion. Unlike last year, when leather goods from the flagship brand drove profitability, growth was reported across all of the group’s businesses. Clearly buoyed, Bernard Arnault is ready to take a chance in virgin territory. His next move? The hospitality industry. The luxury group plans build up a high-end hotel business with plans for two exclusive Cheval Blanc hotels in Egypt and Oman, with future projects pipelined in “exceptional destinations”. (more…)

From Revealing Reality Checks to a Chinese Expos


An analysis of the week’s luxury news highlights

Tech Reality Check

When a tidal wave of innovation collides with the tranquil shores of the status quo, it’s all too easy to get swept away by the sheer force of it all. Such is the danger that the luxury industry faces when trying to make sense of social media and m-commerce. Perhaps now more than ever, understanding the failures and shortcomings of these nebulous digital channels is just as important as studying their success stories.

Fortunately, last week provided a few more clues as to what’s not working in the wider business world and why. Referencing a white paper by the digital marketing agency 360i, the Brand Channel focused on the “disconnect between brands and Twitter.” According to 360i’s research, more than 90% of tweets still come from consumers rather than corporations and only 12% of those mention a brand. More telling was the fact that the majority of these commercial plugs are either about social networking sites themselves, entertainment or technology brands. The report also found that, despite all the advice to the contrary, most brands using the microblogging site still only seem able to listen. A meagre 12% of marketer tweets demonstrate what it calls “active dialogue with consumers”. (more…)

Marketing to the Masters


Foreign brands set their sights on the capital of luxury

Paris finds itself in an unfamiliar position. In recent years, the city has watched on with pride as Paris-based luxury conglomerates like PPR and LVMH go forth and conquer a multitude of new markets and territories. Now, the tables have turned, as foreign brands eye Paris as their next target for expansion.

On the back of a quarter of record third-quarter profits Coach is readying itself to win the hearts and minds of Parisians. CEO Lew Frankfort announced plans to open at least 14 locations in Printemps department stores throughout France over the next three years, starting with a 1,700 sq ft boutique within the Printemps flagship on Boulevard Haussmann this June. Frankfort now faces the challenge of balancing the brand’s New York roots with a local environment bursting with luxury products and heritage. (more…)

SHANGHAI, China’s Luxury Gateway


According to Shaway Yeh, editorial director of the Modern Media publishing group…

Here in China, it really does feel like the challenges of the financial crisis are “so last year”. The general mood is super positive, particularly in this industry. As many of you probably know, luxury boutiques and outposts are mushrooming around the country. Most brands have opened in the 2nd tier cities and leading brands like Louis Vuitton have opened in most 3rd tier cities. But knowing this can never quite prepare you for the energy and contagious confidence you feel when you do business in some of these cities. The luxury market has played a part in utterly transforming them. It’s extraordinary to see just how quickly they’ve been reinvented. The frenzy on the ground corroborates the numbers. Luxury sales just keep on rising. (more…)

Fashion Week’s Big Dress Rehearsal & the Acquisitions Main Attraction

Luxury Acquisitions


A famous lot sold by the Piasa auction house in 2009 — a collection of vintage wines and spirits from the cellar of the Parisian restaurant La Tour d’Argent

It has been a busy week for those tracking mergers and acquisitions across the multifarious luxury goods industry. And that’s not even counting the seemingly neverending LVMH-Herm¨s saga. Nor does it count the long-awaited completion of PPR’s divestment of the discount furnishings chain Conforama, which some analysts see as a realignment by PPR to focus on growing an even bigger luxury portfolio around its current stable of Gucci Group brands.

The first among the new crop of M&A stories that emerged was that PPR’s corporate cousin, Artmis, which is Franois Pinault’s private investment holding company, sold its remaining 40% stake in the Piasa auction house to Financi¨re Piasa for an undisclosed sum (WWD). The sale is worth noting because it now leaves only Christie’s as the remaining luxury auction house asset under Artmis’s ownership.

Following other Indian industrial and retail giants hungry for a slice of Western luxury, Gitanjali Gems signalled interest in continuing its acquisition spree a few days ago. According to Reuters, Gitanjali is buying the diamond specialists Stefan Hafner, IO Si, Porrati and Nouvelle Bague “” and already owns two Italian jewellers. (more…)

The Latest Appointments, TechnoMarine, Hermès & Jumeirah Group


The latest appointments at Technomarine, Frank & Fils, Ballantyne, Starwood, Herm¨s, Gilt Groupe, John Galliano, Jumeirah Group & Elizabeth Arden Spa.

As 2011 begins, there has been a changing of the guard within the luxury industry. Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy are in the process of re-negotiating their contracts with Louis Vuitton, Emanuelle Alt has been confirmed as the new editor in chief of French Vogue, ending the speculation regarding stewadship of the magazine but leaving no clue as to what Carine will do next.

Christophe Lemaire is to succeed Jean-Paul Gaultier as creative director of Herm¨s, showcasing his debut collection in 2011, whilst Tiffany & Co CEO James E Quinn announced that he will retire in 2012. Juicy Couture vice president of communications, Kate Foster also announced an exit over the Christmas break, as Gilt Groupe, Jumeriah and Technomarine appointed new leaders. (more…)

11 Luxury Hotel & Spa Brand Collaborations

Guests are offered spa services from a reputable and credible brand that in turn, is able to expose its products and treatments to a select group of affluent consumers. The hotel benefits from the experience and credibility that the beauty brand brings, that an in-house branded spa potentially may have lacked. Guests are guaranteed the highest quality experience and latest treatments and technologies, whilst the beauty brand’s positioning benefits from the association with the 5-star hotel.

In an increasingly saturated luxury market, cross-industry collaborations are becoming more and more important in providing potential consumers with a unique value proposition. This is the raison d’ªtre of Luxury Society, to facilitate connections between individuals and organisations sharing luxury clients and inspiring them with noteworthy business practices. We investigated luxury spa and hotel collaborations and present a selection from around the globe, for a complete listing we invite you to explore the Luxury Society directory.


Henri Chenot, Palace Merano, Dolomites

Voted the most life-changing spa in the world, Palace Merano promises the ultimate detox. Henri Chenot, a French expert in Chinese medicine, has for the past 30 years researched and devised a health system known as “biontology’ which he practices at his in-residence branded Spa. The facility is split into two sections: the health and medical centre for doctors’ analysis, acupuncture and tests, and the beauty centre where therapists administer daily massages using hot cups, detoxifying baths, mud wraps and a variety of aesthetic treatments to rejuvenate the face and body.

The Palace Merano is recognised internationally as one of the most prestigious and effective centres in the world, where you can find all the treatments and care programmes. However, reviewers warn that this is by no means the place to come if you are looking for cleansing facials and pampering pedicures. Instead expect your body to be pummelled, flushed, immersed, mud wrapped and hosed.

Website: Henri Chenot Espace Palace Merano
LS Company Profile: Henri Chenot
LS Company Profile: Palace Merano (more…)

Legal Skirmishes


One division over at LVMH that must be growing fast is the legal department. Yet again, the French conglomerate has brought a landmark case against an internet giant. Having already tussled with eBay and other online retailers, LVMH claimed partial victory in a long-standing battle against Google. Although the European Court of Justice found that Google’s search engine advertising system, AdWords, does not infringe on trademark rights by allowing rival advertisers to buy keywords that correspond to its registered trademark brands, keyword advertisers must now declare where their goods originate. What’s more, Google can be held liable if there is evidence that it failed to act expeditiously when a trademark infringement does occur. (more…)

Who Will Benefit Most From Chinese Millionaires?

Richemont, LVMH, Sotheby’s and Christie’s are among the luxury players vying for some of the money that affluents in China are spending, not saving, says Jing Daily


Qianlong vase (L) and a sculpture by Zhan Wang: Chinese collectors have displayed a voracious appetite for works with heritage, history, and investment value

It’s already an accepted fact in the luxury industry that wealthy Chinese consumers are here to stay. Now the question is how to get them to wind down their notoriously high savings rate and spend more. However, Chinese shoppers appear to be doing this on their own, regardless of the ongoing digital and traditional media marketing blitz in which some high-end companies are currently engaged.

According to the Wall Street Journal, as the number of Chinese millionaires continues to climb, China’s 53.2% savings rate is forecast to decline and consumer spending set to rise long term. As the Journal adds, this trend should be very fortuitous for one company in particular “” the Geneva-based luxury juggernaut Cie. Financiere Richemont, owner of brands like Cartier, Piaget, and Montblanc.

Like another high-powered, high-end conglomerate, LVMH Mo«t Hennessy – Louis Vuitton S.A. (LVMH), Richemont has seen its fortunes soar in China over the past 10 years, led mostly by intensive expansion efforts and a strong presence in Beijing and Shanghai “” as well as Hong Kong, where its brands’ stores are often packed with mainland Chinese tourist-shoppers. Growth has been significant for Richemont this year, with the Wall Street Journal noting the company’s shares have risen some 50% since January, outperforming peers like LVMH. (Though LVMH certainly isn’t hurting in China either.) (more…)

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