When fashion designers shift focus from our bodies to our homes
From high-end to high street, the worlds of fashion and interior design have never been so closely aligned. Recent years have seen countless collaborations between prominent fashion designers and established homeware brands, who have realized that consumers are hungry for a complete lifestyle experience.
With homeware and furniture companies providing the infrastructure and expertise, partnerships such as Diesel and Moroso, or Raf Simons and Kvadrat have proven to be mutually beneficial.
A $27 billion market
Expanding beyond clothes not only strengthens a business by increasing brand recognition, but also allows labels to grab a slice of the highly profitable luxury home and furniture pie, which, according to a report by Allied Market Research, is forecast to reach $27 billion by 2020.
The latest fashion label to step up to the plate and launch its own decor line is Gucci. The brand's debut offering of furniture and decorative homeware is designed by creative director Alessandro Michele and will feature the label's distinctive motifs, patterns and codes.
Previewed items include scented candles, embroidered cushions, porcelain mugs (produced by renowned Florentine company Richard Ginori), a metal folding table and a wooden Liguria-inspired chair.
With a lacquered red finish and velvet upholstery, the chair is hand embroidered with an intricate cat head motif and clusters of flowers -- a process that takes approximately 10 hours to complete. This is haute couture for the home.
"It's about creating a complete lifestyle experience for the consumer," says Allyson Rees, senior retail lifestyles editor at forecasting service WGSN, who has been tracking the trend.
"Gucci is a perfect example because Alessandro Michele has created such a specific world for the brand, he has such a fully-formed point of view, and consumers want the whole experience, not just in their wardrobe."
She adds: "I wouldn't be surprised if we see more luxury houses moving into interiors, especially gifting and home décor, as these categories are simpler to execute than furniture."
Big in Milan
Earlier this year, Spanish brand Loewe pipped Gucci to the post when it launched its first homeware collection in Milan at Salone del Mobile -- the equivalent of fashion week for furniture.
"The home has never been so important as it is now, and it's also the most substantial way for brands to show their talent," said the designer, who worked with esteemed furniture maker Robert "Mouseman" Thompson on the collection.
Loewe was not the only fashion brand in attendance at the annual design fair in Milan. In each case labels used homeware to strengthen their core brand message. Italian brands Dolce & Gabbana and Smeg collaborated on a series of kitchen appliances covered in colorful Sicilian-inspired patterns and motifs.
Birkenstock introduced a line of beds, a logical choice given the brand's associations with practicality and comfort.
Louis Vuitton grew its five-year-old travel-inspired homeware collection by 10 pieces, while Marni created an actual playground from its ever-evolving line of PVC furniture made by Colombian craftswomen.
A bright future
While furniture design may be unchartered territory for many fashion houses, others have straddled both worlds for years, such as Ralph Lauren Home (1983), Missoni Home (1983), Fendi Casa (1989), Versace Home (1992) and Armani Casa (2000).
So what can we expect to see next?
"We'll see more brands move into the wellness lifestyle space," predicts Rees.
"Ivivva, Lululemon's active line for girls, just unveiled a collaboration with PB Teen, which is very yoga-centric and promotes an active lifestyle. And Byredo is collaborating with Ikea on a home fragrance collection for 2019, so I wouldn't be surprised to see more niche fragrance brands teaming up with mass retailers on exclusive products like candles, bath and other scents."