Aug 10, 2019 | By Luke Tebbutt
Jan 10, 2018
Gucci is the latest fashion brand to move into fine dining with the opening of a 50-seat restaurant called Gucci Osteria in its home town of Florence this week.
It’s part of the ‘Gucci Garden’, the immersive, pay-to-enter, brand experience hub that also includes an exhibition and bazaar-like retail space.
With dishes overseen by three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura, it serves “an entirely new menu” influenced by his travels.
The opening today comes just shortly before the debut of Tiffany’s Blue Box Cafe in New York City.
Both moves reflect a trend towards offering complete lifestyle solutions that has been going on for several years. But while an upscale eatery was once a nice-to-have, it’s becoming increasingly crucial for high-end fashion brands.
And that’s partly because the high-spending fashion customer, like almost every other consumer these days, is being drawn by experiences as much as product, and dining out is one such experience.
It’s also part of a trend has seen designers also moving into the hotel trade whether through a simple design deal like Christian Lacroix creating the extravagant décor for the Hotel Des Petits Moulins in Paris, or a chain named after the fashion brand (Versace, Armani etc).
But whether it’s cafes, restaurant or hotels, it’s all about widening the moneymaking opportunities for the brand, immersing the customer completely in the brand’s lifestyle, and also giving other business (such as hotel chains) exposure to those customers.
And when it comes to foods, restaurants and cafes aren’t the only food-linked initiatives from big-name fashion firms with over the counter food sales also key. As department stores, grocers and specialists from Aldi to Fortnum & Mason show that demand for upscale food and drinks is riding high, LVMH recently said it is to open a second La Grande Epicerie (its gourmet grocer) branch in Paris. Prada already owns Milan’s high-end patisserie Marchesi.
Back with restaurants, like couture fashion lines, they’r not necessarily about a deep dive into foods that will generate the kind of mega-profits brands such as Gucci get from, say, handbags. But they certainly get the customer thinking of the brand in their wider lives and, importantly, they can be used to make the most of vacant store space and to encourage more shoppers into stores at a a time when e-tail is on the rise.
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