Italian luxury healthier or just putting up a positive face ?
Milan, April 21st. Fully booked hotels, streets blocked by trucks, press conferences, showroom events, cocktails (‘’aperitivo’’ take over the Italian capital of fashion and design. It is the annual furniture and design fair, one of the top three in the world which draws designers, buyers and media from all over the world. From hoteliers to fashion retailers in the luxury industry, everyone is talking about the spectacular designs at the fair. The fair officially started with a press conference by Giorgio Armani who annouces a new addition to the Armani Casa collections – the Armani kitchen. With so many luxury product spans, Armani doesn’t take us by surprise. After mobile phones, sports sneakers, flowers, hotels and restaurants, Armani makes another courageous step by launching a co-branded product, this time with famed Italian furniture brand Molteni. While everyone agrees there will be very few extravagant super rich to buy a kitchen at EUR 100.000, this seems to be more of a PR strategy rather than a sensible business decision of Mr Armani. It will certainly attract attention and will kindle endless discussions among media and Armani fans.
Many critics argues that all these product spans branded Armani have been diluting the brand and making it less attractive to luxury consumers which look for exclusive products.
If we take each partnership, Armani seems to have chosen the best in the respective product category. Nobu, Samsung, Mizuno, Emaar, L’Oreal and most recently Molteni are all top players in their own field, with top quality products and services. Therefore, the resulted Armani products have proven exceptional. With each new product range, Armani has reached a larger and larger pool of target consumers and the awareness has been growing steadily.
However, we do agree with those who believe Armani has diluted its brand in its core business, and that is fashion. It has taken a world crisis for brands such as Armani to realize the time will come for consumers to ask where is the true Italian Armani product. They all made huge amounts of money – Emporio, Jeans and Exchange. Yet, long term, consumers have started paying more attention to product quality and implicitly its origins. All these Armani lines were mostly made in Asia, including leather goods, most of them in the same factories which produce Zara or H&M and sometimes utilizing the same materials. High time has come for Armani to take a closer look at all these lines and look at its core brands Giorgio Armani, the so called first line or black line and Armani Collezioni, of which most products are still made in Italy and closely reflect Mr Armani’s design patterns – the Italian chic, yet classic modern look.