What are your thoughts on the current market sentiment for luxury fashion?
Luxury fashion is at a particularly exciting juncture in the Asian market, especially here in Malaysia. A key point of interest is the growing number of men who have an eye for luxury fashion, which is why The Melium Group elected to open the first flagship Lanvin Menswear store in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. Analysis of the market has also shown a significant number of clientele hailing from China, the Middle East and Indonesia. This is indicative of the robust luxury shopping tourism sector that make Malaysia a veritable honey pot to luxury shopping tourists who seek to shop, dine and experience local culture. With duty free status, tax refunds and competitive regional price points, Malaysia is seeing real growth in this segment. Luxury fashion is thriving in Malaysia, with great potential moving forward as we tap into the travel lifestyle market segment, recently partnering with Secretariat Shopping Malaysia and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur to launch an exciting new initiative, called the Luxury Shopping Experience, within the broader context of the annual Malaysia Mega Sale.
Currently, we’re seeing a ‘fashion immediacy’ concept of presenting a designer collection that can be purchased and delivered immediately after its runway debut. What are your thoughts on this ‘see now, buy now’ business model?
Certainly, we have seen a lot of brands doing this and even Max Mara, in the Melium stable of designer brands, launched its first ‘see now, buy now’ capsule collection at the end of 2016 in collaboration with the Beijing artist Liu Wei, who had exclusively designed its Pre-Fall 2017 set. I think it can be very interesting for the brand, depending on the project. With regards to its sustainability, I do think that remains to be seen. It would probably work for exclusive collaborations and limited edition collections, which add value to the total experience of the brand.
How do you think luxury fashion can remain a formidable presence with the current dominance of fast fashion?
The experience of luxury fashion is exactly the diametric opposite of fast fashion and that is how I believe it will maintain its presence. Individuals who purchase luxury are looking for distinction in terms of quality. For example, the man who elects to buy a Lanvin suit does so because he knows what he wants. He is buying into an idea: quality, refinement and historicity. It’s not a snap decision, nor is an impulse purchase – it’s highly considered. The point is that the experience, process and production of luxury fashion is so completely different from that of fast fashion that, in a sense, the latter is not really a threat.
The store of the future will certainly not be confined to brick-and-mortar, but I do believe that, for luxury fashion at least, it will remain a significant feature.
As we’re witnessing the advent of online and experiential shopping experiences, what do you think the store of the future looks like?
It’s a question that we at The Melium Group are constantly evaluating, analysing and consulting with industry experts on. At some point, we will launch our own e-commerce platform but, for now, we are researching viable prospects and trends. The store of the future will certainly not be confined to brick-and-mortar, but I do believe that, for luxury fashion at least, it will remain a significant feature. There is nothing quite like the experience of having your needs catered to, while assured of the quality and fit of your purchase. It’s an experience available only by physically going to the store. Perhaps we will see the evolution of the concierge chatbot, where clothes are delivered but you’re attended to by software via remote.
As far as luxury fashion is involved, the purist in me sees the continued presence of brick-and-mortar because individuals who are buying luxury aren’t just making a commercial purchase; they are buying into an ethos and its concurrent emotions. For this reason, we recently expanded the M Pavilion boutique in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur to include a new wing that houses a studied curation of elevated designer labels such as Alaïa, Roland Mouret, Victoria Beckham and Maticevski. When you step into this new extension of M, you are immediately transported to a different world, as the beautiful silhouettes and refined fabrics create a visual feast for the senses. That’s the experience of luxury.