The imminent launch of the Blue Box Café (Tiffany’s restaurant concept) in London, might sound new to some. However, fashion brands are increasingly getting into the hospitality industry, and that mix of fashion & experience is not that new.
In the case of Tiffany & Co, its opening in London will be the 1st in Europe, but 4th globally, after it debuted on its’ iconic 5th Avenue flagship store (well positioned on Tripadvisor), and opened venues also in Shanghai and Hong-Hong.
From the classic Prada’s Pasticceria Marchesi in Milan (and now also in London), to their bakery (you guessed it, Milan too), classic brands have for years experimented with F&B operations (Other examples include Thomas’s by Burberry’s, or Ralph’s by Ralph Lauren).
In some cases, the reason behind it is to try and keep luring potential clients into their flagship stores, somehow fighting against the ever-increasing online sales.
How much diners go there just to take pictures and post them online, as a one-off experience, or really become regulars, is open to debate. There are, at the moment, 50 million Instagram posts with the #foodstagram hashtag.
However, if they really want to become leading venues on their own, and not just get one-off visits from millennials looking for a few likes in social media, the path to follow should be what Chanel + Alain Ducasse have done in Tokyo with Beige.
A classy restaurant, within the Chanel shop in a luxurious address (Ginza), operated under the guidance of Alain Ducasse, which at the moment holds 18 Michelin starts in restaurants run or operated under his name & influence.
And this last one should be the way fashion brands should focus on. Otherwise, they risk becoming just PR stunts, pop-up concept outlets, such as when Fendi sold £4 popsicles in London or Milan.
Besides, F&B operations, fashion brands are more an more linked to hotel operations too. Bulgari, Versace, Armani, Christian Lacroix and Ralph Lauren have hotels carrying the name and design concept, while brands such as Dior and Diane Von Furstenberg have desgined Suites for luxury hotels too.
Again, the idea of a holistic approach to the brand, not only wearing its’ designs but embracing the entire experience, seems to be the origin of it all. Not all brands have managed to be successful on this endeavour (Missoni being a failed atttempt).
Although out of all brands with Hotels Bulgari might seem the best positioned to grow thanks to the backing of Marriott, we must not forget that LVMH owns Cheval Blanc and Belmond, and just with some investment and rebranding, the French house could become #1 when it comes to the fashion & hotel blend. And yes, they will also open a cafe in London soon.
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