Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Virtual Reality - Fabergé and Couture Lab Move from Net to Street

The private salon area of Fabergé's recently opened boutique in Geneva

In the early days of the web, the general consensus in luxury circles was that the net (as it was popularly called then) and the real boutique mutually existed in two parallel lines with no meeting point. It was unthinkable for several store managers to imagine that one day they would find themselves sharing client data, selling tips and the info in the treasured black book of VIP client with the ''internet people''. Many couldn't even imagine the possibility of a luxury brand having its online boutique as its flasgship store. The thought that a luxury boutique could be launched first online before moving to the street was incredulous. Well life is full of surprises as they say, and many could be good surprises as demonstrated by Fabergé whose first store opened its doors in Geneva after the online flagship; and Couture Lab, which managed a successful e-retail website before venturing into the physical world (both brands are featured in Luxury Online, by the way).

Fabergé.com, launched before the flagship store in Geneva

Faberge, the celebrated high jewellery and decorative piece brand created by Peter Carl Fabergé in 1885 has recently been relaunched as an 'ultra luxe' brand with an enviable collection of high jewellery made of the most rare and precious stones. The first collection by the brand since 1917 (yes, indeed) was designed by Frédéric Zavvy and launched in great pomp in Paris in September 2009. Staring prices are in the range of $50,000 for ear-rings and rings and could very easily go up to $7 million for necklaces and pièces d'exceptions. You would think that a brand like this would shun the web in a bid to cater to those hyper-rich celebs that we believe don't bother with the web. But Fabergé seems to understand that luxury is in a transition to a major change and that business was well, not as usual anymore. The website launched as a global flagship store in September and the physical flagship followed in December 2009, confirming that the internet is indeed a real shopping destination.

Couture Lab on the other hand was launched as an online business aiming to showcase the best talents in fashion, design and luxury living. With its self-description of "luxury beyond trends and seasons", the website has gone on to contribute to the incresing senstivity of luxury clients to niche and emerging designers and concepts. In recognition of the need to marry 'virtual' with 'real' Couture Lab opened its first physical boutique in London opened in November 2009.

It looks like its time for whoever said that virtual reality is a dream to wake up as things are cleary changing and are definitely getting more interesting in the cyber and real worlds.

1 comment:

  1. I visited Couture Lab's boutique in London last weekend and it looks amazing. You can clearly see that they put a lot of thought into it.

    The staff was very helpful and showed me some of the nicest shirts and ties. Also worth looking at presents for women and their selection of cufflinks. I bought myself a pair from Armrevolution, a very exclusive London brand that I have surprisingly not seen in Liberty, Harvey Nichols or Harrods and I am glad I found them there because they are something different and special.

    I was just passing by Bond Street and was surprised at first to see Couture Lab there. Nice move going from online to store and great location!