Luxury was one of the first sectors to register the unwelcome economic implications of the COVID-19 coronavirus’ global spread as high-end fashion names were forced to shutter their plush premises in the lucrative Chinese market.
With 2020 set to take a large and almost unprecedented bite out of this usually ‘untouchable’ growth area, luxury brands reassessed and re-deployed. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the ways they’ve been doing it:-
The French multi-national owns dozens of legendary names across six sectors, including Moët Hennessy, Dior, Tag Heuer, Bulgari and Louis Vuitton. As France’s COVID curve steepened alarmingly, prompting some of Europe’s most stringent lockdown measures, LVMH – valued at just over $220 billion in 2018 – swiftly set its Givenchy, Dior and Guerlain perfume factories to producing desperately needed hand sanitiser free of charge for the nation’s hospitals.
“LVMH will use the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands … to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels,” a group statement said. “LVMH will continue to honour this commitment for as long as necessary.”
Claridges, a regal response
Dubbed “an annexe to Buckingham Palace” because of its strong royal connections, this five-star hotel in London’s luxury Mayfair area has housed movie stars and royalty down through the decades in suites ranging from £800 to £8,000 a night.
As the capital’s plushest hotels emptied out, apart from long-term residents, Claridges offered accommodation and breakfasts free of charge to NHS staff unable to reach their homes during the crisis.
“Teams from all our hotels have volunteered to help and support the dedicated NHS workers at this critical time,” said Paddy McKillen, co-owner of the Maybourne Group that owns the hotel. “We are forever in their debt.”
Burberry, in the trenches
As sales plummeted by 80%, the British group famed for its trench coats re-tooled the Yorkshire factory used for their manufacture to produce non-surgical gowns and masks for patients, while leveraging its global supply chain to procure100,000 face masks for NHS staff.
Burberry also announced donations to Oxford University’s emergency vaccine development and to charities fighting food poverty across the UK.
CEO Marco Gobbetti said the whole team was “very proud to be able to support those who are working tirelessly to combat Covid-19, whether by treating patients, working to find a vaccine solution or helping provide food supplies to those in need at this time…. Together, we will get through this.”
Rolls-Royce, driving force
The luxury automaker, obliged to suspend production at its Goodwood plant, placed its fleet of 30 limousines at the service of local hospitals and charities to help keep deliveries of groceries and medical supplies moving.
“We are a tight-knit community at the Home of Rolls-Royce and I have no doubt that our resilience will shine through during this extraordinary time,” said CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös.
Farrow & Ball, background interference
Is the British paint and interiors company really a luxury brand? Well it certainly is for those of us #wfh, working from homes that may not be our own or what we want to present as our own!
They’ve come up with a series of six different work-from-home scenes, all painted in F&B colours, to upload as a background to your conferencing app. You can choose the look that best suits the mood and change your environment to get your colleagues slavering with envy.
“Video calls are putting the population straight into each other’s homes as they work,” explains its CEO Anthony Davey. “So we thought we would give people the chance to change up their backgrounds without even having to pick up a paint brush with some of our most popular shades. It’s a bit of fun for people who might fancy changing the walls they are looking at every day.”
Now that’s luxury!