In a still gloomy economy, fashion retailers are striving to find new possible extensions that can generate more revenue as apparel alone seems to be losing its charm of attracting a profitable footfall. Following a similar trend that started almost a decade ago when fashion brands got into accessories to increase footfalls, as accessories are fast moving items even in slow times, the next big collaboration of fashion seems to be in the direction of homes, with retailers from every segment of fashion, be it luxury or high street, expanding with home ware lines…
As the home ware market remained stable throughout 2011, with far less uncertainty than the clothing segment, retailers and high-end brands are now moving beyond clothes, handbags, jewellery and shoes to offer homeware to consumers demanding the same quality and attention to detail for their homes, bridging the gap between interiors and fashion. Realizing these changing preferences well in time, FCUK is the most recent example of the movement. Launching its first home collection online and in 10 stores including London’s Oxford Street, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle in April, the move is wisely timed in order to grow the brand through other revenue streams, in reciprocation of a challenging time for the brand, which posted a second profit warning last month and announced its retail sales were down 9.5 per cent at the end of 2011.
Falling in line with other fashion brands like Zara and the American retailer Anthropologie, which are already banking on their well established home lines, the new range includes products ranging from crockery to driftwood tables, ceramics, vases, glassware, soft furnishings and a safari chair, which at £ 275 is the most expensive item in the collection. Designed with a contemporary, international flavour, a soft colour palette of blues, greys, creams and browns, an interesting use of texture – such as the hand-woven leather and wool rug the collection hints of the brand’s fashion heritage in its use of materials.
[bleft]Sharing two core competencies in textiles and design development expanding into homeware for fashion brands involves low levels of risk, with an added advantage of the consumer growing more stylishly savvy in homes [/bleft]
With designing and manufacturing of homeware being reviewed as one of the most logical extensions for apparel brands by industry experts, fashion and home décor share two critical core competencies in textiles and design developments, and therefore pose relatively low levels of risk. An added advantage is of the consumer growing more visually literate and stylishly savvy, with a desire of change and superior living, while also looking at their surrounding as a ‘feel good’ motivator in depressing times, making them invest more in home items than clothes
even in times of recession, accelerating growth in the home fashion segment.
Sensing the consumer mood, Hermès launched a full collection of homewares in 2011 including furniture, wall coverings, textiles and ceramics, drawing on the houses signature expertise in leather and textiles, forming a visual connect from apparel to living. Other high-end names such as Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Vera Wang, have all made similar moves in the last decade, with legendary brands like Armani, Fendi, Missoni and Versace.
Although the colour palette for interiors changes less quickly than that of fashion, the prints, fabrics and techniques remaining as dynamic as fashion apparel, is making it a lot easier for brands to get into the living market. Keeping the inspirations constant the only change required in the design process is that some of the fashion fabrics have to be reworked especially for interiors. For instance, a collection drawing inspiration from the great classics of the male wardrobe can be re-interpreted for sophisticated interiors with patterns like Prince of Wales checks, pinstripes and over-checks being enlarged and expanded to the sizes and shapes of padded furniture and decorating accessories.
Even designers are not leaving these opportunity far behind, with Diane Von Furstenberg venturing into a collection of bedding, rugs and tableware in 2011 in a joint venture with Springs Global US, retailed currently through department store Bloomingdale’s. The collection draws from the bold colours and intrepid patterns, yet again long associated with Von Furstenberg’s famed wrap dresses. Animal prints, batiks and floral graphics make up the printed linens as of now, and soon a bath line is expected to debut in the near future, followed by a collection of furniture. Another famed designer, Karl Lagerfeld, Creative Director at the French fashion house Chanel forayed into homes by collaborating with Swedish crystal manufacturer Orrefors, unveiled a range of 12 glasses that included champagne flutes, wine glasses and tiny tumblers like votive candle holders, stocked at John Lewis, along with Harrods and Selfridges at a price range that begins at 75 euros for one glass and go up to 1100 euros for a limited edition vase.
Low-end retailers are also cashing in on the trend and in 2011 Asada moved into the premium home ware market with the launch of new premium brand Elegant Living, backed by a 1.6% sales growth in the home segment in the final quarter of 2010. Retail experts predict that the home segment will see growth in 2012, as more consumers are back to their jobs and are looking to spend after nearly two years of lying low. The best way to cheer up the family is to invest in a new interior!