Fashion, Furniture & the Rise of Branded Projects
Managing Director of luxury home interiors company Kings of Chelsea, Theo Mance, speaks about the merging worlds of interiors and fashion as fashion brands branch out into the homeware departments.
It has recently been difficult to escape the current high profile trend for fashion brands to enter the homewares market. From Dior to Zara, the high street and the luxury boulevards are showcasing textiles, accessories and furniture alongside jackets, shoes and skirts. The integration of the home divisions of these globally recognised marques is tremendously variable in terms of the level of connection to the DNA of the brand. Much like fashion, the addition of a badge or logo to a simple shape or silhouette may be the only distinguishing feature of a brands influence. The best known names in the industry, those with a heritage of over twenty years or so have established a precedent of ready made “trend” or “taste” simply by the addition of the brand to an interior. Fashion is a fast paced, transient and reactive sector whereas furniture has traditionally been firmly rooted in heritage, time and to a certain extent, craft. The speed of change in the fashion marketplace is greater than ever before and the homewares sector has had to raise its’ game to keep up.
Changes in technology, the supply chain and distribution have allowed the interiors market to become more in tune with the cycles of the fashion world and this is where the newest additions to the list are beginning to take advantage. The major barometer of the interiors market comes every April in Milan at the Salone del Mobile. There may be bigger shows in terms of sq ft in the USA but in terms of fashion and trends in the industry, Milan is still the overarching benchmark. The number of high end luxury fashion brands working either directly with or in association with manufacturers is steadily growing. Certain furniture manufacturers have also even taken their leads from the fashion industry and re-branded using the same methodologies as clothing brands
Kings of Chelsea has the great pleasure of working alongside Roberto Cavalli Home Interiors as the sole UK dealership. Launched as recently as 2013 the furniture and furnishings division is inextricably linked to the fashion side of the business. At the head office in Florence Paul Surridge, the incumbent creative director, works alongside a team of specialists who provide technical detail of how to apply print, shape and form to furniture, tableware, linens, tiles and wallpapers. The Roberto Cavalli Home division offers a fully immersive lifestyle experience, directly linked back to the DNA of the brand. Unlike other fashion furniture brands the creative process is fully rooted in the design studios of the Maison itself.
Of course this creates huge pressure on the process, as keeping up with the fashion seasons cycle means being ahead of or at least equal to the collection launches. The solution is to create capsule and classic collections so that the ranges are available to both those who value contemporary trends and those who require something more timeless. Within the ranges are the possibilities to specify finishes, leathers and fabrics until the piece is unique to the individual. When a brand is new to the market this invariably means this will be the very first time each order has even been produced. Just like the very finest fashion, these orders are in effect “couture” furniture. With an increasingly demanding, knowledgeable market, this is an incredibly valuable feature. Bespoke and fully personalised goods and experiences can now be found within most luxury categories (watches, automobiles, holidays, hotels) and it was only a matter of time before interiors stepped up and took their place at the table. Recent additions to the roll call have included Bottega Veneta, Hermes and Gucci so it is clearly a trend that is unlikely to end soon.
Fashion brands carry enormous value to a global HNW (high net worth) community and add both an increase in selling and rental values to real estate. Cavalli is currently working with developers in both Dubai and Saudi Arabia on fully branded projects, and the trend seems to show no sign of slowing down with Versace, Fendi, Bulgari and Bentley amongst a number of brands also involved in current schemes. Predominantly, from Middle Eastern and Asian interests, the arrival of these type of developments in the UK is a growing market and likely to be more and more noticeable in the next few years as the purchasing power of these nations investing in real estate in the UK shows little signs of diminishing. Fashion brands are seemingly craving the way for prosperous future in the realm of interior design as the two worlds are continuing to merge at an unprecedented rate.
Written by Theo Mance, Managing Director at Kings of Chelsea.