MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Thursday, November 21, 2013

INYT "S.E.A. of Luxury" Conference Report: Day 1

The 2013 International New York Times “S.E.A. of Luxury” Conference kicked off today at the Capella in Singapore.  You can read the program here.

Suzy Menkes opened the conference by addressing its key theme:  When will South East Asia become a provider rather than a consumer of luxury?  Throughout the conference, speakers shared their insights into South East Asia and its importance for the luxury industry.

Suzy Menkes opens the conference.
Ermenegildo Zegna, CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna Group: "Luxury in all of Asia is being driven by the Chinese consumer, whether at home or overseas."
Jing Ulrich, Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Asia Pacific, JPMorgan Chase Bank: "China is the holy grail of the luxury industry."
The morning began with a financial overview of the luxury industry in Asia and of Asia’s luxury consumers. Jiang Qiong Er (CEO & Artistic Director, Shang Xia) then focused on the importance of incorporating heritage and traditions when building a new Asian luxury brand.
 Jiang Qiong Er: "Shang Xia is about traditional craft, beauty and culture - the art of living.”
The next sessions focused on ultra high net worth men, a crucial demographic driving luxury sales growth in South East Asia.  Asian male UHNW consumers have a median net worth of US$77 million and a median age of 59; Singapore is the leading UHNW market in the world.  These sessions from Cartier, Caruso & Fosun, and Tom Ford International focused on appealing to the specificities of this market.
Gregoire Blanche, Regional Director South East Asia and Australia, Cartier: "Status, Investment, Gifting & Narrative are the key factors behind luxury watch purchases in Singapore."
Domenico De Sole, Chairman, Tom Ford International: "You cannot be a great luxury brand unless you're successful in Asia."
Pierre Denis, ESSEC MiM alum '87
CEO of Jimmy Choo

The afternoon sessions began with accessories and beauty, including speakers from Valextra and Jimmy Choo, as well as Anya Hindmarch and Ethan Koh.  They emphasized the the importance of personalization of luxury accessories, which keeps the brand close to its customers, and tailoring the products to the local market.
Anya Hindmarch, on local nuances: "Asian women tend to be smaller than European women, so they like smaller bags."
Ethan Koh, CEO and Creative Director, Ethan K: "High profile clients want bespoke products that are special and unique to them."
Finally, the discussion turned to whether Asia can shift from being a consumer to a producer of luxury goods. A wide variety of participants weighed in:
Angelica Cheung, Editor in Chief, Vogue China, on the idea of Asian creativity: "We don't have to put an "Asian" tag on it. We are Asian, but we are everywhere."

Anna Sui: "It's only a matter of time before a huge great fashion design talent emerges from the South East Asian region."

Suzy Menkes: "Is there an opportunity for imaginative designers to create clothes which are appropriate to Muslim women?"

Biyan Wanaatmadja: "When I started out I realized I had to produce something uniquely Indonesian - that's the DNA of what I do."

Frank Cintamani, Chairman, FIDé Fashion Weeks; President, Asian Couture Federation: "The lack of marketing ability is a problem for many Asian designers."
The day closed with Suzy Menkes in conversation with fashion blogger Bryanboy discussing the impact of social media on the luxury fashion industry.
Suzy Menkes: There's something sad that social media, which started out innocent, is now controlled by the big brands and houses.

Bryanboy: I don't think it's bad for bloggers to work with brands- there are synergies and they will always share a personal view.

Bryanboy: There can't be another me, but there's space for everyone in the digital space.