Although last month’s World Retail Congress in Barcelona pollinated signs of a slow economic recovery, brands are still trying to think outside of the box. Renzo Rosso, meanwhile, performed a controversial move during the Milan fair when both Diesel and Maison Martin Margiela introduced lines of items for the home, begging the question: Why expand when most brands seem to be producing less and taking safer style shots?
Part of the answer may rest in the fact that the economic situation has offered a filter for fashion brands and consumers are only pulling out their wallets for the labels that have established a solid message. With its “successful living” core value and its smart marketing actions, Diesel, for instance, developed a relationship with the consumer that has since become a valuable means of transforming the harsh scenery into an opportunity.
According to Faith Popcorn, from Brainreserve trend bureau, consumers are reverting focus back onto their homes. She believes that the decrease in spending has marked an increase in the time people stay at home, which, in turn, has evolved into über-cocooning. People are nesting and enjoying their time with digital alternatives for entertainment as well as reading, cooking and other domestic pastimes.
Thus, if home is the new Starbucks, there’s more reason to revamp it with iconic fashion brands that have always given us pleasure. After all, a Margiela chair will be useful longer than the same brand’s shirt—ditto a Diesel lamp. In both cases, Rosso was smart to perceive that people would switch from spending on ephemeral fashion to re-focus on the consistency of the home.
This kind of recessionista rationalism seems to be leading the way with ecological issues as well. During the Milan fair, Fendi also attracted the media attention with its Spazio Fendi, which gathered young designers in a “Craft Punk” performance in which they transformed materials and processes in live demonstrations. Scraps of discarded leather from Fendi’s factories became tabletops, for example, while folding techniques from fashion were used in paper chairs.
Indeed, the marriage of fashion and furniture is not a new pairing, but these days it seems like a positive alternative for major brands. In fact, Armani is also successfully doing it, as is Missoni and Ralph Lauren—the latter even sells wall paint with its exclusive colors. Of the bunch, Armani is a true vet, having begun investing in interior design products almost a decade before the current economic crisis. And unsurprisingly, the brand is sticking to its aggressive expansion program, which recently opened its 80th Armani Casa store in a Dubai mall and has plans for more openings in Jakarta and Manama, Bahrain.
The ability to transfer a brand’s identity to home objects is also relevant for fast-fashion companies. Following Zara’s suit, H&M launched a home line last February. For H&M Home’s Maria Lindblon, this concept is valuable because it “uses H&M’s expertise in fashion and applies it to the house.”
No matter where the economy goes from here, we can always fall back on the sanctuary of home.