Facing lower global sales growth in luxury goods many brands have begun to diversify into the food and drinks industry.
Gucci is a latecomer to the luxury fashion themed dining business after several other luxury brand already operate such themed restaurants, some in more than one destination: Ralph Lauren (Paris, New York), Burberry (London), Armani (Milan, Dubai), Bvlgari (London, Milan, Bali), Dsquared2 (Milan), Roberto Cavalli (Miami, Milan) and Dolce & Gabbana (Milan).
Gucci have a Coffee Shop in their flagship store in Milan, a restaurant in the Gucci Museo in Florence, a restaurant in Shanghai (Gucci 1921), cafe / lounge at its flagship store in Seoul and the bar at its men’s store in Milan. There is a shift in the industry away from traditional runway collections and standard retailer stores, brands now need to create lifestyles for their consumers and offer them something unique.
Luxury flagship stores are also diversifying and taking advantage of third space, which is; “Somewhere which is not work or home but a comfortable space to browse, relax and meet people, even enjoy a meal” (Mikunda 2004:11). For example, a Margaret Howell cafe and book shop, a Ralph Lauren coffee shop or a MOMA Design store, these separate spaces within luxury flagships are contradictory sites which bring together elements not typically found in the same spatial configuration and are also what’s known as heterotopias (Nobbs et al, 2012). They’re integrated within the flagship to create a fantasy environment where one can enact a self in a deeper, more emotionally engaged manner, achieving what Roberts (2004) describes as a real identification with and a love and desire for the brand. Many flagship stores now offer entertainment, cultural experiences and have become somewhat of a tourist attraction. This is fuelled by luxury consumers’ desire for a unique, personalised and entertaining shopping experience.
Karinna Nobbs, Christopher M. Moore, Mandy Sheridan, (2012) “The flagship format within the luxury fashion market”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 40 Iss: 12, pp.920 – 934
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