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- 26 Apr 2012
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Vanessa Friedman, FT Business of Luxury Summit 2012

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Vanessa Friedman at 2011’s FT Business of Luxury Summit in Lausanne (Photo: Oliver O’Hanlon)


The Financial Times fashion editor tells Luxury Society what’s in store for the upcoming FT Business of Luxury Conference in Marrakech

One of our priorities at Luxury Society is to bring you exclusive opportunities to engage with each other and with thought leaders from our industry and elsewhere. What better a place for our members to connect than one of the most important conferences in our calendar? The annual FT Business of Luxury Summit.

For the fourth year running, Luxury Society has partnered with this prestigious event, to bring our membership together and discuss the most pressing issues in our industry, led by some of the most influential figures in both luxury and lifestyle.

As the official business network of the conference, we are delighted to announce a specially discounted rate exclusively for Luxury Society members to attend the upcoming FT in Marrakech, Morocco on May 30 – June 1.

And to further pique your interest, we spoke to Vanessa Friedman, the renowned fashion editor of the Financial Times, to learn more about the upcoming conference and what we can expect in 2012.


 It will also be key to better understand what is driving this move towards ‘lifestyle’ – is it requirements from emerging markets? From online? From retailers or consumers? 


This year’s conference takes place in Marrakech, a world away from the structural and economic discussions that took place in Lausanne last year. Why is Marrakech the place to be to talk luxury and its relationship with lifestyle?

This year’s theme is The Lifestyle Revolution and Marrakech is a place that has a longstanding relationship with the luxury industry but also has inherent associations with the idea of lifestyle.


This year’s theme is The Lifestyle Revolution. Tell us about what you think the issues surrounding the theme will reveal for luxury in 2012.

I think one of the most interesting and important issues will be defining the idea of lifestyle itself and what it means when it comes to luxury. It will be crucial to understand the parameters and where one ends and the other begins, because there are different interpretations of this at the moment.

Take, for example, the newly structured PPR, which rests on the twin poles of a luxury division anda lifestyle division, versus numerous brands that call themselves luxury lifestyle brands.

It will also be key to better understand what is driving this move towards ‘lifestyle’ – is it requirements from emerging markets? From online? From retailers or consumers? Or is it even a hangover from the recession, when “luxury” took on certain negative connotations?


 It can be dangerous when luxury brands well known for core competencies or famous for particular products dilute that reputation by expanding into new lifestyle categories 


What do you feel are some of the broad benefits in luxury brands expanding into lifestyle categories?

It certainly presents an opportunity to increase market share, to enter new markets, and to expand product offerings far beyond the usual stock definition of luxury goods. There is also the fact that lifestyle is such a benign and unassuming word. I don’t think we can ignore the marketing implications this could bring to a brand.

In addition, with the enormous retail locations brands are launching both in established markets and abroad, I wonder if there is pressure to create products to fill these enormous locations. Surely they call for thousands of SKU’s?


And how do you feel about the risks?

I think it can be dangerous when luxury brands well known for core competencies or famous for particular products dilute that reputation by expanding into new lifestyle categories. When you talk about risk, category extension can be dangerous from a financial perspective, as it calls for increased investment in R&D and design – Investment must also be made into production, distribution, retailing, product training etc.- and also from a brand equity perspective.

It is not difficult for a new assortment of products to be confusing to consumers if they differ from what the brand stands for in their mind. And what if it flops? Perhaps the financial losses are recoverable, but what has it cost in terms of the public perception of the brand? I think there will be much discussion surrounding how to assess and mitigate these risks, in a quest to balance capitalisation and integrity.


The Luxury Society team are looking forward to attending the conference and meeting you all there.


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FT Business of Luxury Conference
Marrakech, May 30 – June 1

As the Official Business Network of the event, LS members are eligible for a special 20% discount to attend.

View the Event Page
www.ftbusinessofluxury.com