They say that there are some things that money can’t buy. But it’s a mantra that doesn’t hold much sway in luxury. If you’ve got the cash to splash on a Chanel wardrobe (which you keep in a wardrobe made of the finest mahogany that was personally delivered by a Selfridges concierge at 5am), there’s simply no differentiation between high street, premium and luxury: everything is accessible.
For fashion’s most moneyed, a designer pair of shoes or overcoat just doesn’t hold the same appeal as it does for the rest of us who know we’d have to go hungry for a few months to afford it. Which is why, in order to snag the HNWIs, high-end labels need to add an extra layer of enticement.
Brands routinely offer VIP experiences and services to its blue chip clients in a bid to retain their elite edge. Be it celebrity access, pre-launch browsing or 24-hour consultation, the luxury world’s top spenders can benefit from some jaw-droppingly exclusive services.
So, for a brief respite from overdue credit card bills and student loans repayments, we look to the gilded stuff luxury shoppers get that we want too. Because apparently the best things in life aren’t free, whatsoever.
Claim To Fame
Fashion is no stranger to the cult of celebrity, with stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Eddie Redmayne fronting campaigns for labels including Dior and Prada. Obviously luxury brands rely on these faces to help shift all kinds of product (from fragrance to fine tailoring) to all kinds of consumers, but in fostering these partnerships they also add some extra appeal for their top-tier clients: VIP access.
Take the recent Gucci Cruise 2017 show in London, for example. The cloisters of Westminster Abbey were filled not just with fashion editors and buyers, but with Gucci’s top-spending devotees, who were seated alongside A-list stars like Alexa Chung and Salma Hayek.
Better yet, if you’ve got Gucci-level dollars, you can take advantage of the free-flowing champagne at show and event after-parties free of charge – again, each guaranteed to be filled with Glitterati darlings that you can unwisely make a pass at.
It’s this opportunity to rub shoulders with Hollywood’s elite that fortifies many a luxury brand’s appeal: after all, you’re not simply in the same room as these celebrities, you’re given the chance to live like them.
When money is no object, your shopping list becomes about the things cash can’t buy. Designer brands understand that in order to woo their most valuable customers, they need to offer something other than beautiful clothing – so they organise one-off experiences or tickets to events with VIP privileges even Mariah Carey can’t wrangle.
Case in point, TAG Heuer’s Drivers’ Club at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed. The UK’s premier motorsport exhibition hosts a menagerie of global drivers (Jenson Button and Mark Webber to name but two) who, when not hill-climbing at high speed, unwind in the exclusive Drivers’ Club – to which TAG’s prized customers get free entry.
Combine that with generous hospitality, complimentary hotels and transfer to and from Goodwood and you’ll soon get an idea of just how much TAG Heuer clients are spending. And, needless to say, they’ll likely spend more with the opportunity to – under the influence of a glass of champagne or two – quiz their childhood racing icon on their best lap time (or whatever it is wealthy petrolheads talk about).
Luxury shoppers are always keen to get their mitts on new wares before the masses, and big spenders often get pre-launch access.
Rolex, famed for its Daytona model, recently re-released the iconic design to global acclaim at this year’s Baselworld fair. A move which promptly resulted in waiting lists to rival the Glastonbury multi-laptop slog.
Frenzied interest like this is both a blessing and a curse for stockists: while demand equals dollars, how do you decide who should have first dibs on the new piece?
Well, money talks. By dropping a colossal amount in-store, top clients get the chance (pre-release) to purchase something that can also bolster their portfolio. The rarer the item, the more expensive it’ll go at auction – just in case your Qatari oil well runs dry, or something.
And, with the most expensive watch being sold for a historic $24.4 million at Sotheby’s (it was a Patek, by the way), you’d better start working your way onto that waiting list now.
Pimp My Size
Customisation has been a big sell for luxury in recent years: just look at Burberry’s personalised nameplates, Louis Vuitton’s monogrammed bags and complimentary engravings on Kenzo’s bottles of fragrance. Unsurprisingly however, Savile Row can go one step further.
Considered a style destination long before the arrival of Parisian brands in London, traditional tailors such as Henry Poole have been repping the game since 1846. Taking advantage of experience that spans the best part of two centuries understandably costs a few quid, but no stone is left unturned in the creation of a bespoke Savile Row suit: you’ll get a glove-like fit, to choose from some of the world’s finest fabrics and a dedicated service from your own personal tailor.
“Some tailors will specialise in Nehru jackets, others morning suits,” Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson told the Independent. “[But] we try also to keep a single tailor working on a customer’s commissions for consistence of quality.”
A bespoke Savile Row two-piece can cost upwards of £3,000 – not quite your high street stitch, but a cut above off-the-peg pieces.
The likes of Harrods and Selfridges have long been globally renowned retail meccas, frequented for their expansive array of luxury items and peerless service.
For some however, these department stores are a 24-hour service for all their luxury needs. Dedicated VIP and client service teams operate around the clock with Client Liaison officers assigned to shoppers.
Those that spend into the thousands are given private consultation rooms away from the food court plebs, while those that spend into the hundreds of thousands get a personalised service in the comfort of their own homes.
In addition to the usual celebrity suspects, members of the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts management board and even the Sultan of Brunei are all afforded top customer care.
Then there’s the Selfridges International Lounge: a haven for overseas shoppers who come to sample London’s luxury offering, it includes a Tax Refund Lounge and two Tax Free Shopping Halls – with champagne and financial assistance on tap, of course.
Top-level indulgence might be reserved for the rich and richer, but what would you like to see offered for your cash?
Let us know below.