Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

Urban Armor, New Twist in Clothes

kwe personal space dress

Urban Armor. Who would have thought — clothes that are about more than dressing as in self defense, pollution protection, personal privacy and more. Wearable tech — be it watches with internet a la Dick Tracy, Google Glass, and more are very much in the news. But the newest wrinkle is Urban Armor by Tokyo based, 27 year old New York artist Kathleen McDermott. Her signature piece, described in the Wall Street Journal is a dress said to “reclaim personal space by expanding several inches when sensors detect another person is standing too close”. The dress inflates while someone stands as close as 15 inches. Some have described a special benefit of the dress of “avoiding unwanted sexual advances”. Hmmm. It’s only in prototype now, along with other projects McDermott developed for her master’s of fine arts degree at City University of Hong Kong.  Other clothing items she has created include the “autofilter”, a scarf that inflates to protect from pollution and “miss my face” a hat and veil lined with infrared lights to hide a person’s face when viewed on close circuit security systems. Interested in making your own dress, tapping into her know how? Instructions are on her website.

Estate Manager: New Career Path for Hoteliers

estate manager

Have a track record in hotel management and looking for a new career path? In reading an article about the new breed of estate manager for the world’s elite affluent, it occurred to me this could be a  career opportunity for a hotelier who wants a change. The management, leadership, diplomatic skills and versatility of a hotel GM could well fit the bill demanded for this new breed of estate manager. As described in the article in the New York Times, a job ad could read like this:

“Seeking an experienced Estate Manager to oversee the day to day function of multiple homes around the world. The ideal candidate must be comfortable working with a full range of home technology, managing a multi million dollar budget and overseeing a domestic staff of 20 including a curator, filmmaker and a flight attendant.”

The job is said to pay in the mid six figure range and come with what could include everything from a 401K plan to extra “hardship duty” pay and a generous bonus during the holidays.

Then there’s the opportunity of providing the Estate Managers. In the same article they referenced Mahler Private Staffing which started twenty years ago and now has offices in four cities serving 900 families, an increase from 300 seven years ago. And the potential can only increase given the tremendous growth in wealth of the 1%. Last year according to the Credit Suisse Wealth Report more than 45,000 Americans had a net worth of over $50 million, an increase from 38,000 in 2012 (they call these people “ultra high net worth individuals”). Sounds like another opportunity.

Image courtesy of bplanet /

Latest Trends: Men, The Rich Opportunity for Luxury Segment

luxury latest trends

New Berluti Shop in New York


Most everything comes full circle at some point, so in that sense it’s not surprising that men, once far surpassing women in sales of luxury goods, are back as a major target. And nowhere is this more evident than in luxury retail. LVMH, whom we know is the lead to follow, is investing tens of millions of dollars in the male market segment. This week they’re opening the first New York store of Berluti, the maker of expensive men’s shoes that they’ve turned into a full apparel and accessories line and are showcasing this in their new outpost. This is part of a $137 million investment they’re making according to the Wall Street Journal. During the Great Recession many women who previously traded up become introduced to the likes of H & M, Zara, Forever 21 and others, and realized they could get knockoffs of the latest trends, such as an “it” bag or clothing items, for a lot less. And it’s unlikely they’ll return to shopping as before. Not so men, who, according to the article, are more loyal to brands and care less about the latest trends. Plus, according to Bain & Co., between 2009 and 2013 men’s luxury spending increased 55% compared with 37% for women. So the luxury heavyweights are opening men only stores. In the past year alone, for example, in Miami’s Design District, Dior and Christian Louboutin have opened shops for men only along with a Berluti store.  If fashion leads the way in luxury latest trends, then what can we expect to see  for men in other lifestyle categories like hotels and spas?  Sounds like a real business opportunity.


Keeping up with the Crawleys (of Downton Abbey)

More and more consumers these days want to live the Manor Life. Call it the Downton Abbey Effect: demand for the well-staffed home is on the rise, according to agencies and house managers alike. Clients are calling for live-in couples, live-out housekeepers, flight attendants for private jets, stewards for the yachts and chefs for the summer house.


Ethical Fashion

First it was fashion produced from environmentally sustainable materials. Recently I read about air purifying clothes. And now we have what I call “ethical fashion” or, as described in the Wall Street Journal, “good goods”. A series of young online brands are focusing on socially responsible production as in making a commitment to worker safety. As you can imagine, this issue has been brought to the fore with the tragedy at the factory in Bangladesh. Four new companies are leading the charge including Everlane offering clothing and accessories, essentials for men and women that are affordable; Of a Kind working with indie designers on limited edition merchandise; Honest By the brainchild of a Belgian designer, rather avant garde; and  Zady, due to debut this month, offering 40 labels of clothes they describe as “grown up hipster”. How do you know this is the real deal ethical? Everlane shows videos and photos on its website of the factories and production process.  Zady uses icons so shoppers know if something is locally sourced, handmade, made in the US, made from high quality raw materials, and environmentally conscious, among other things. Honest by provides detailed information on everything from the source of each and every material going into the product, to the address and owner of the production facility, cost breakdown and markup, and carbon footprint. Of a Kind co-founder Claire Mazur said the company’s revenues were up 300% in 2012 over the previous year. So it seems there’s definitely a market for this. Let’s hope the ‘big boys’ of retailing catch on.

Social TV & The Hashtag

With 41 percent of tablet owners and 38 percent of smartphone owners using their device daily while watching TV (Nielsen), US broadcasting programs are finally getting on board the Social TV train, and the public is responding. Example – Victoria Secret Fasion Show


Marketing to Affluent Men – Fashion

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, luxury marketers that want to win must stay vigilant in tracking the shifts, turns, and changing preferences in their affluent consumer market. And what we are seeing is men are coming into their own in several industries. The affluent male segment that is. More industries are narrowing your focus (and narrow it more and more and more – almost to pinpoint).


Nostalgia Marketing: The “New Retro”

In terms of the economy, we’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop. Whether they’ve been actually battered or it’s merely self-inflicted, the affluent are weary. Such uncertain times mean at least temporary comfort can be found in looking back to fond memories of happy days-gone-by. Not only will “nostalgia marketing” drive trends in 2011, but for years to come until the deep effects of global recession subside.


Androgenous is out; Glamorous women and brawny men are in

Prescient fashion soothsayer Tom Ford is betting on the return of glamour, and I’m with him. Makes sense in this time when the world seems full of gloom and doom, from the economy and politics to environmental disasters. And that’s spoken by an optimist. People are ready for glamorous fantasies.


Spring update: coming up flowers

After a gloomy 2009, floral prints are THE trend for spring/summer 2010. Designers adorned their spring collections with garden varieties of rosettes and sweet floral patterns on just about everything from accessories to dresses and jackets. British brand Liberty kicked off thes season earlier this year by bringing its iconic florals to America in the form of a Target collaboration. This bright, happy trend has also influenced the beauty world, causing an explosion of pretty pinks and cotton candy hues for lips, cheeks and nails in shops.