Up until very recently, many of the world’s major fashion houses have managed to get away with selling Asian consumers an ideal of opulence that has not been updated since the 1980s. As those audiences become more discerning and opt increasingly for more understated labels, Big Luxury is left with the growing challenge of staying relevant.
What to do? One answer would be to cater to that demand and go lower key while retaining high-end positioning. Another would be to jettison the high-end positioning altogether and promote your brand by having people dance around in cheap furry costumes, as they might in a mobile-phone store.
That’s what Fendi seems to have done with its Fendirumi, ‘Bug-kun’ and Piro-chan’, who are currently making the rounds in Hong Kong (we highly recommend you follow that link for videos and comments).
The pair of—frankly quite scary—pink and blue creatures started life as bag charms and are inspired by “Japanese pop culture and kigurumi-mania”, according to Silvia Venturini Fendi.
As inventive, wild and wacky as Japan’s fluffy toys and mascots can be, high-end they definitely are not. We are not convinced that they will help offset the plunge in luxury consumption in Hong Kong (down nearly 19 percent this year according to government figures).
For anyone interested, the mink charms they evolved from retail at a decidedly high-end US$1,500.
We’re still not sure what they’re trying to say, but if Hong Kong punters decide this is the new definition of luxury, Fendi will have the last laugh.