After three weeks on the road attending menswear fashion shows, I’ve been asked countless times about new seasonal trends and what to wear this summer (the answer: designers are turning their focus to well-made, timeless clothing). But a different kind of trend is also emerging in the industry: brands are demonstrating an increasing appetite to expand beyond fashion.
It might sound counterintuitive but it makes business sense. With lockdowns now largely behind us, companies need to diversify revenues and rebuild connections with customers in the physical world. It’s why Gucci tapped Giorgio Bargiani, The Connaught Hotel’s mixologist, to create a pre-mixed cocktail to sell in stores and at its new Florentine bar, Gucci Giardino 25. “Personalisation is now the ultimate luxury,” Bargiani tells me. “Whether we’re talking about a five-star hotel, fashion or art, everything becomes more appealing when it gives you access to something unique, an experience that can’t be bought. Hospitality – bartending in my case – can help to create that.”
In the same spirit, watch-maker Jaeger-LeCoultre is offering tasting experiences with star mixologist Matthias Giroud, who created several non-alcoholic cocktails inspired by the nature surrounding the brand’s manufacturing headquarters. Missoni and Etro, meanwhile, are doubling down on their home collections; they are now as keen to dress their customers’ tables as the customers themselves. And accessory designer Rosh Mahtani’s recent summer pop-up sold as many hearty pasta dishes and Selekt spritz cocktails as her label Alighieri’s signature gold-plated jewellery and espadrilles.
Those who get diversification right will end up with healthier bottom lines and loyal customers. A case in point is Danish brand Ganni, which has been shaking up its fashion offer with photography, art and interiors projects for years. According to Reuters, the company is now up for sale and could fetch up to $700m. From interiors to hospitality, there are plenty of options for fashion brands seeking to broaden their scope.
Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion editor.