Publication: The Business Times, p 32
Date: 24 August 2007
SMU Headline: Limited editions go east
Luxury brands produced in scarcer numbers do pay off nicely but for a variety of reasons, reports MELISSA LWEE
HAT luxury brands create limited edition product, they hope that the product
edition products or collections is will become a collectible and when it does
nothing new, but as testament to that is when hype is created."
the buying power of the Asian While Prof Davis agrees, he believes that
consumer, these same brands are limited edition products inspire curiosity in-
creating such products specifical- stead.
ly for these markets. He says: "Limited edition products, when
In recent years, Asian markets executed well, don't create 'hype' - they in-
- particularly Japan, Hong Kong and China - spire intense curiosity and higher demand so
have been the hot spots picked by luxury yes, limited edition products benefit luxury
brands to launch exclusive limited edition 1 brands. For a company to succeed,it mvct ,-Fa-
products. ate awareness, convert interested consumers
Leading the pack are the likes of Louis Vuit- to buyers, and develop loyalty from those buy-
ton and Botteea Venetta. In December 2005. GI>.
Louis ~uittonielebrated re-opening of its
the For many luxury brands, it is also a matter
Landmark store in Hong Kong by creating the of positioning, speaking to the consumers
mask charm. In 2006, it celebrated the within a target industry and connecting with
re-opening of the Taipei LV Building store
with a new pineapple charm, while launching the country in question.
the kite charm to commemorate the re-open- At Hermes, for example, 'The Rhythm of
ing of the Kuala Lumpur Starhill store. China" scarf was designed for Hermes by Chi-
Just this year alone, Italian leather goods nese artist D i g Yi and will be sold exclusively
house Bottega Venetta presented three such by Hermes China, in conjunction with its "A
initiatives. In April, it was the Ginza Pyramid, Tale of S i exhibition in the 2007 falVwinter
an urbane hobo bag designed specially for Ja- season.
pan. In May, 250 limited edition pieces of the
Hong Kong Bag were made available to cele- Made in China
brate the opening of a flagship store in Hong Says Hermes artistic director Pierre-Alexis Du-
Kong's Harbour City. This October, it will in- mas: 'This exhibitionis clearly not a presenta-
troduce 250 pieces of the Landmark Bag at tion of our 2007 collection. Through its vari-
the opening of a new flagship store at Hong ous settings, it is a visual experience and a dis-
Kong's prestigious Landmark Center. covery of the world of printed silk at Hermes.
"The energy and confidence of Hong Kong "Today, China is a market in full growth.
are remarkable," says Bottega Venetta crea-
tive director Tomas Maier on why they decid- By the end of this year, we will have nine
ed to pay homage to Hong Kong through stores in this country. It was therefore impor-
these bags. tant for us to unveil our House. To show how
"For me, the tension between past and fu- we've developed a technique and a syntax
ture, between local tradition and global ambi- that are proper to the House using a fibre na-
tion. is inspiring. It's a city that forces you to tive to this country. It reflects Hermes's open-
expand your sense of what's relevant, what's ness to exchange."
beautiful and what's personal. We love to be Meanwhile, retail consultant with Glam-
able to offer a new bag when we open a store our Inc Cary Cheng emphasises that limited
and, in this case, I hope the qualities of rele- edition products create a new dimension to
vance, beauty and individuality are what a one's shopping experience.
woman perceives when she sees it." "Luxury products are accessible every-
where," he says. "But when you create special
Many good, few better limited edition products for a particular coun-
Other labels that have presented such initia- try, it helps to incite travellers to buy from
tives include: Loewe, which re-worked the that specific country, helping to set the coun-
Amazona bag to create a limited edition ver- tries apart. Just like how people travel all over
sion produced mainly for China to be sold in the world to buy Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts from
China, Hong Kong and Taiwan; Gucci with a different countries - luxury brand shoppers
version of The Indy Bag just for Japan; and Ce- are looking for stufFthat they cannot get back
line, which produced a limited edition collec- home."
tion of its "Bittersweet" bag bearing South Ko- Still, he adds that how well the limited edi-
rean actress Song Hye Kyo's handwritten sig-
nature name just for Asia. tion products sell is still dependant on the
marketing, something Mr Benjamin believes
In addition, Dior created its own range - in-
cluding 130 limited edition washed style in wholeheartedly.
Exclusive products: 1.Fann Wong with a made-to-onler Burberry A He says: "If it's for the sake of making it
jeans and 100 limited edition silver Dior Hom- Manor Bag; 2. Louis Vuitton'smask charm; 3. Cartier's Vanda Miss
me "Bee" pendants with the engraving of "Pe- limited edition, what's the point, since it's just
Joaguim brooch; 4. Gucci's Aoyama Indy Bag; 5. Bottega Venetta's , another product. But if it's really a collectible
king Road 2006" just to celebrate the launch
of Dior Homme's store opening on Hong Landmark Bag; 6. Club 21'sArmani Casa owe; 7.Hennes' 'The that marks an event, I tell you, everybody
Kong's Peking Road. Rhythm of China'sear$ tutd 8. Bulgari's Doppio Tondo bracelet would want one."
On Peddar, which is helmed by the Peddar True enough, when Miu Miu brought into
Group in Hong Kong, even managed to score Hong Kong 100 limited edition pink metal lux
two exclusive ballerina flat deals with Chloe cused markets to reinforce that those custom- erry launched the made-to-order Burberry ronment charity auction where 35 signed and bags for the opening of its Peking Road store
and Marc Jacobs. ers are special." Manor Bags that was a worldwide exclusive one-of-a-kind fashion articles contributed by this year, all 100 pieces were sold out on open-
Singapore Management University market- FJ Benjamin CEO Douglas Benjamin in Singapore. Customers could personalise illustrious designers such as Giorgio Armani, ing day.
ing professor John Davis is not surprised that agrees. "Any material you read will tell you their bags with their initials embossed in gold Paul Smith and Marc Jacobs will he offered on "When the brand has a story to tell, it
Asia has become an area of focus. that Asia has become a driving force. By my on the interior label of their bags. eBay for bidding to raise funds for the various makes the product worth buying," Mr Ben-
He says: "Luxury brands have been impor- estimation, roughly about 50 per cent of the Just a few weeks ago, Bulgari similarly cel- environmental charities supported by the
jamin says resolutely.
tant in Asia for many years, even prior to the luxury consumers are from Asia. For some of ebrated the opening of its accessories store in nine different Club 21 global offices.
Try telling that to local stylist Karen Ng
ascendance of Chiia and India. The luxury in- the major brands, it's even up to 60 to 70 per Singapore, a first in the region, hy launching According to industry players, these initia- who is a big fan of limited edition products
dustry is US$80 to US$100 billion in size and cent. 50 limited edition Elettra bags and 200 pieces tives are seldom profit-driven. Most of them
but does not give two hoots about the story be-
more than 50 per cent of it comes from pur- "When you count all the Asian markets of the Doppio Tondo bracelet that can only be are launched to either create hype or build
and the Asian tourists shopping in Europe found exclusively in Singapore at its Paragon customer loyalty. hind them.
chases by Asian consumers, so it has been "If it's to commemorate something, that
and will continue to be a substantial and grow- and America, I think it is a big part of the husi- store. In September, to commemorate Carti- Mr Benjamin says: "If you think about it, if
ness." er's brand new boutique concept, 50 limited these products are really limited, say 100 piec- ih
has nothing to do w t me," she says. "To me,
ing business in this region, especially with the more exclusive, the fewer the pieces, the
new wealth pouring out of key markets like Although the popularity of Hong Kong. Ja- edition Vanda Miss Joaquim brooches will be es out of the thousands of bags that the big
China, India, Vietnam and Thailand. pan and China with luxury brands should sold exclusively in Singapore. brands sell, it's really only a few per cent of better. As consumers, it helps for us to know
"Just a s these countries are growing come as no surprise, it may be news to some But even if it's not a specially designed col- the total profits from the sale of bags as a that the product was produced in limited
wealthier, the consumers within want to be that Singapore is not far behind in terms of lo- lection, it could also he a specially signed one. whole so it can't he about making a profit. A quantities- it gives us a sense of assurance as
treated as unique. Therefore, luxury brands cation choice. For its 35th anniversary, local luxury retailer lot of it is hype. Hype is what business and re- to what we are paying for.
are offering 'Limited Edition' products in fo- Last year, for its 150th anniversary, Burb- Club 21 will conduct the Fashion for the Envi- tail are about. When a brand creates a limited "It's also a definite conversation piece.
When you buy something that's different and
very appealing, people will defmitely ask you
about it and talk about how prestigious it is to
own one such item. Regardless of whether
that's good or bad, it makes me feel good and
that's all that matters."
Source: The Business Times O Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.