W13 - Burberry, Bottega Veneta, SK-II, Lancome, Neiman Marcus, The Ouai
Your weekly podcast summarizing 10 Luxury news in 10 minutes !
1. Burberry partners with Elle Japan to launch a virtual store experience
2. Burberry develops two skins for video game character in Honor of Kings
3. Burberry, H&M and Nike face backlash over Xinjiang cotton
4. Ted Baker is first fashion brand to launch on Clubhouse
5. Bottega Veneta launches quarterly digital journal
6. SK-II opens an in-house creation studio
7. Lancôme launches a Sustainability initiative
8. Product Launches: The Ouai’s pet shampoo. Dior customization pop-up.
9. Collaborations: Tumi x McLaren. Lady Gaga x Dom Perignon. Lady Gaga x Klarna
10. Finance: Neiman Marcus refinances for $1.1 billion, Douglas gets a 2.4 b euro lifeline.
1.Burberry partnered with Elle Japan to launch a virtual store which will be available for one month only, to showcase the upcoming spring summer 21 collection. Users will be able to buy items from that collection.. The virtual store replicates Burberry’s flagship in Ginza and will be accessible on Elle and ElleGirl’s Japanese websites, as well as at the dedicated URL Burberry-ginza.com. Burberry partnered with actress Aleiza Ikeda who created 5 styling videos that users can discover in this virtual experience.
2. Another news came this week regarding Burberry. The brand’s designer, Riccardo Tisci, developed 2 skins for Yao, who is the heroine of a video game called Honor of Kings. Think of skins as outfits for your character in a video game. Using the brand’s signature check, trench coat and monogram, the 2 outfits are inspired by looks from the upcoming Spring Summer 21 collection. Players from mainland China can buy the skins in the game and keep them permanently in their collection. The strategic objective for Burberry is to strengthen the partnership it already has with Tencent, which is the game’s publisher. This creative and innovative move is also a way for Burberry to tap deeper into the Chinese consumer mindset and develop its brand awareness in China.
3. I wrote the news 2 weeks ago, but things move fast in China! Last week, Burberry publicly criticized the cotton originating from the Xinjiang region, claiming it was controversial. This opinion was very poorly received by Chinese shoppers but also gamers, and as a form of retaliation, Tencent decided to simply cancel the partnership with Burberry, who will no longer provide skins for the game. I told you things moved fast! Burberry is not the only brand facing intense backlash after voicing their concerns about cotton sourced from the Xinjiang region. Chinese consumers, encouraged by the government, also called for the boycott of H&M and Nike, which has already resulted in the closure of 6 H&M stores in mainland China. According to analysts, such boycotts do happen once in a while, as it already did in turkey or the US, they don’t last, and it will not change these international Brands stand on the subject.
4. Ted Baker became the first fashion brand to launch an official club on Clubhouse. For the 2 listeners out there who don’t know what Clubhouse is, it is an audio-chat app which rose to prominence over the past few months and is by invitation only while the app is still in beta. Many designers and brands are already active, by participating in discussions in existing rooms and building their followers base. Ted Baker is the first label to get the club status, which allows it to control the content and discussions. They can curate specific content and partnerships through multiple rooms under their branded club. The brand is starting with a six-part series called Conversations in Culture, hosted by Abraxas Higgins, who is a prominent Clubhouse content creator with more than 370K followers.
Each live audio session will also be repackaged as a podcast series available on Apple and Spotify.
This is only the beginning and I will probably keep updating you every week as Clubhouse becomes a foundational marketing channel to connect with fans and followers and gives way to an entire new type of content curation.
5. After leaving social media a few months ago, Bottega Veneta just announced the launch of a quarterly digital magazine. Mixing fine art, photography, fashion and live videos, the new format is also a way to feature Bottega’s products in all sorts of situations, from the more traditional fashion shoot in Milan, to the redesign of products using unusual materials, such as marble, ice or jelly. The digital magazine is called Issue 01, and is accessible at issuedbybottega.com
If you remember the earnings reports from Kering a few weeks ago, Bottega was one of the only luxury brands reporting a positive growth in 2020, with revenues up 4% vs 2019. The brand is doing well under the elm of designer Daniel Lee, who is highly regarded for his overarching approach to fashion, mixing architecture, art and culture in the overall construction of Bottega as Luxury Maison.
I love the innovative ways taken by Bottega, which is not new given that other Maisons have produced their own media, like Cartier, Hermes or Acne. But this trend is important as the role of brands has evolved in this modern economy. Customers expect to be inspired and entertained. In this new role of being a curator of taste and culture, we will see more and more brands developing that type of in-house marketing capabilities.
6. This is the perfect transition for the next news along the same line. Luxury Japanese skin care brand SK-II announced the opening of a global film studio.
It will be located in Singapore where the brand is headquartered, and will bring together filmmakers, animators, musicians and content creators to create ongoing visual and digital work dedicated to women’s empowerment stories. Eight films will be released in 2021, with the first called “The Center Lane.” It debuts on March 29 on SK-II.com and YouTube. What’s the strategic objective: while long-form content usually doesn’t convert as much as short-forms or images, the creation of a strong cultural narrative tackling current social issues is a way for brands to consolidate their image and gain loyal customers in the long term.
7. On the product launch side, luxury hair-care brand ouai launched a $32 shampoo for cats and dogs. This product was originally launched as a capsule collection in 2018, and is now back by popular demand, as a permanent fixture of their product line up. The pet market is booming as pet adoptions skyrocketed during the pandemic. According to Mintel, revenue for pet-care products and services surpassed $100 billion dollars, and that 50% of millennials have considered adopting a pet since the start of the pandemic. The shampoo is called Fur Bebe, pun intended, and it will be distributed at The Ouai’s traditional retail partners, including Sephora. What’s interesting is that Sephora doesn’t sell human babies products yet, but it now sells a pet shampoo. This is really indicative of their consumer base priorities.
Then, Porsche launched an electrical bike, inspired by the design of their Electric car Taycan Cross turismo. Prices start at $8500.
Finally, Dior unveiled another pop-up, the 3rd one I am mentioning on this podcast since December, and this time it is all about customization! Located in New York, in Soho, clients are able to personalize classic Dior products, including handbags and shoes.
8. On the Sustainability side, Lancôme launched a global sustainability initiative, called “Caring Together for a Happier Tomorrow,”. The program is built around 3 main pillars: protecting biodiversity, helping people to consume sustainably and empowering women. In order to achieve its biodiversity protection goals, Lancôme will focus on a subset of actions, including agricultural practices, eco-conscious formula and packaging, partnerships with institutions, and using green science and biotechnology. Last year, the brand purchased a domain in Grasse which produces Centifolia roses, which is being turned not only as a source of raw materials but also a shelter of biodiversity, including rare bird species. By 2025, 100% of the roses used in Lancomes formulations will be organic. Biotechnology and green science also allow the brand to produce nature-derived ingredients, which helps limit the use of raw materials from nature. On the recycling side, the brand wants to use 100% recycled or bio-sourced plastics by 2030.
Finally, still on the topic of sustainability, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga announced they will not longer use fur in their designs. It leaves only 2 brands within Kering group which have to announce they are banning the use of fur: Brioni and Saint Laurent.
9. Let’s review a few noteworthy collaborations : first of all, Lady Gaga partnered with Dom Perignon to develop a limited edition bottle design. A film will be released on April 6th to unveil the design and explain the spirit behind this collaboration (pun intended).
Lady Gaga, again, also announced that her make-up brand, Haus Labs, was opening an influencer content creation studio in partnership with Klarna, the buy now pay later company. Based in Los Angeles, the space will be open for the community to come and create without rules. Through a mentorship program and a $10k grant, selected influencers will have full access to the studio and creative teams from Haus Labs.
Finally, Tumi partnered with McLaren to develop a collection of sleek, sports-car inspired luggage.
10. A few financial news. Neiman Marcus refinanced $1.1 billion in debt by issuing a bond, buying the company time and modestly reducing its interest obligations. If you remember, Neiman was able to shed a lot, but not all, of its debt during the bankruptcy process last fall, and it also more recently spun off its MyTheresa e-commerce unit, which had been a long-time source of growth. This refinancing lowers the financial risk for Neiman Marcus’ investors, but does not deleverage the company. Which is still heavily indebted,
Finally, German drugstore chain Douglas received a lifeline in the form of a 2.4 billion euro refinancing and equity deal, just 2 months after being on the verge of bankruptcy and closing 500 stores.. In a similar fashion to Neiman Marcus, Douglas turned to the junk-bond capital market to raise money, and its ability to sell that kind of bond shows investors’ confidence in the upcoming recovery of the sector.