David Lauren, Executive Vice President of Global Advertising, Marketing and Corporate Communication, Ralph Lauren Corporation, opened the second day of the inaugural Condé Nast International Luxury Conference in association with Swarovski and Place Vendôme Qatar, discussing how the brand is embracing technology, connecting with new and existing consumers. “Ralph Lauren is about a dream and a vision”, Lauren commented, explaining why the brand has stayed strong for more than fifty years. Lauren spoke of ‘merchantaintment’ (merchandising and entertainment) – a philosophy helping the brand establish itself in the new digital age by merging technology, fashion and art. Through the introduction of the Polo Tech shirt last year at the US Open, the brand realized that as technology is something that affects our daily lives then it is also applicable in the fashion world.
Iris Van Herpen, a designer leading her field spoke of creating future style from the laboratory and cyber space. Van Herpen collaborates with artists, scientists and biologists to ‘grow clothes literally’ working together to move in to areas that she otherwise couldn’t enter alone. In conversation with Sophie Hackford, they noted technology will provide a whole new range of tools and materials for craftsmanship, rather than replace it.
Alber Elbaz, Artistic Director of Lanvin, asked whether computers could ever replace the creative mind of a fashion designer. Elbaz commented, “fashion is getting softer and softer, but we are not yet a software industry.” Remarking on the location of this year’s Conference, “Florence is the symbol of classicism and art. Florence is about tradition, it is the city of artisanal handwork, know-how and made with love. Florence is about taking the time, making the time and giving the time. Florence is about family business. Technology on the other hand is about new innovation, next is now, repeatedly.” Elbaz remarked that he doesn’t believe computers will be able to replace designers, as the creative process starts with intuition, and “computers have a brain but no heart”.
Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, President of Chloé, together with Clare Waight Keller, Creative Director of Chloé, discussed how the brand is using technology to better connect with its customers. De la Bourdonnaye discussed who the ‘Chloé girl’ is today, commenting that their “mission is to unleash the power of the woman”. Waight Keller noted the importance of the digital world in the way they communicate with their customers, and that they are trying to create more personal and emotional digital campaigns.
Angelica Cheung, Editorial Director of Vogue China spoke of how technology connects with luxury, and how consumers in China are becoming increasingly sophisticated and educated. Cheung remarked that with greater competition, designers and brands need to ask themselves who they are and what niche they are trying to cater to in order to reach the multi-layered base that makes up the modern Chinese consumer, in the same way that Vogue China has developed expertise and experience in translating international culture and tailoring it to Chinese style. And for the future? Cheung commented “China will continue to grow, to change and evolve at a fast space...the sheer size and scale of China is still worth reiterating”.
Other speakers today included Isabelle Harvie-Watt, Global CEO, Havas LuxHub and CEO of Havas Media Group Italy; Francesco Bottigliero, CEO, Fiera Digitale and e-Pitti.com; Reginald Brack, Senior Vice President, International Head of Retail, Watches, Christies; Jeremy Scott, Founder, Jeremy Scott and Creative Director, Moschino;Anna Dello Russo, Fashion Editor-at-Large, Vogue Japan; J W Anderson, Founder, J W Anderson and Creative Director, Loewe; Leonardo Ferragamo, Director, Salvatore Ferragamo; Stefania Ricci, Director, Salvatore Ferragamo; Laudomia Pucci, CEO, Emilio Pucci; Eugenio Alphandery, President and Co-Ownder, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella; Ermanno Scervino, Founder and Creative Director, Ermanno Scervinoy; Sung-Joo Kim, Chief Visionary Officer, MCM.