Luxury Brands Get Behind Travel Revival with New Products, Experiences

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US consumers seem temporarily frozen in place due to a Federal government shutdown, but that isn’t stopping some of the world’s best known luxury brands from planning for a rebound of the luxury travel market.

British luxury fashion brand Burberry, for example, has just launched “Travel Tailoring” via a global digital campaign. The new menswear line includes suits with “innovative lightweight construction, lightweight shoulder construction,” and “naturally flexible fabrics,” according to the company. A “memory fabric” (100 percent merino wool) is designed to resist creasing. Intended for the luxury traveler on the go, the line comes with an equally high-end price: suits start at $1,995, while blazers begin at $1,295. Burberry is no stranger to innovation though when it comes to combining fashion and technology, as it most recently caused a stir by partnering with Apple during its iPhone 5S launch for Fashion Week.[more]

The London department store Harrod’s is also looking to cash in on the expanding luxury travel market. Burberry, Globe-Trotter, Mulberry and other luxury brands are featured in the retailer’s newly refurbished travel goods store, which includes over 40 premium luggage brands, some available only at Harrod’s. The travel department, occupying some 11,000 square feet of space, also boasts the most comprehensive TUMI shop in the world with an exclusive monogramming service. Merchandise in the new department is surrounded by a series of wall displays and large screens depicting the latest travel products.

Annalise Quest, Director of Harrods Home, said, “The new and improved luggage department at Harrods offers an exceptional choice of luggage brands from the technical and innovative to the hand-crafted with many ranges being exclusive to Harrods or available in luxury fabrications offering our customers a wide range of choice and a must shop destination for all their luggage and travel requirements.”

Famed fashion brand Louis Vuitton is also going back to its roots in luxury luggage with the opening of pop-up store L’Aventure, just next door to it’s Paris showroom. Looking more like a posh travel agency than a retail store, L’Aventure has exclusive art, leather hammocks and vintage trunks set among a selection of men’s shoes, clothing and luggage. Louis Vuitton tapped Tyler Brûlé, head of the agency Winkreative and founder of Monocle magazine, to consult on the store.

This heightened activity by luxury retailers points to the fact that high-end travel is indeed on the rise, despite a still shaky world economy. Small Luxury Hotels of the World, an exclusive group of over 520 global hotels in 70 countries, recently surveyed its clientele, who said that over the past five years, luxury travel was first on their list for consumption of luxury products, tied with technology. When asked to choose just one luxury item, a luxury holiday was the top choice.

Resort property sales are also skyrocketing. Through the end of August 2013, resort sales topped $2.4 billion, exceeding sales in all of 2011 and 2012 combined, according to commercial property brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle. Meanwhile, Investor Business Daily reports that hotel construction at midyear has experienced a year-over-year increase of 23 percent, with construction over the next twelve months expected to show a year-over-year increase of 36 percent.

And fashion brands are getting a piece of that growth, too. Looking to expand their brands with unique customer experiences, luxury brands like LVMH are scooping up international reality in some of the world’s most pristine locations—and in turn can keep close watch on what their key clientele are needing and wanting when it comes to luxury goods and services. Bulgari, Versace, and Armani have also ventured into hotel design and ownership, while more traditional hospitality brands, including Starwood Hotels and Marriott, have renewed their efforts in the luxury hotel sector with over-the-top accomodations in exotic locales. 

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