How has Covid, government lockdowns and social distancing affected the luxury fashion sector in Monaco?
The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged the global luxury fashion industry. Structural shifts in the business of fashion—such as the rise of e-commerce, tighter margins across the supply chain, over-production, and commercial real estate prices and rents booming in premium locations— were already changing the rules of the game.
We feel that Covid-19 will be remembered as a catalyst that accelerated the trends that were already changing the sometimes stubborn and outdated luxury fashion industry. If they survive this unprecedented crisis, fashion retailers, which thought they had three to five years to adapt and change to the new market realities, are now racing to transition much faster.
What is the strategic focus of Alsatex Group? What kind of brands do you look for?
We have built a commercial real estate portfolio strategically focused in the Carré d’Or (Golden Square) of Monaco, while improving the selection of luxury brands available in this specific area. We purchase prime locations, develop and operate stores in partnership with established luxury brands.
Overall, we are the official partners of over 20 luxury and contemporary brands such as Alberta Ferretti, Alice + Olivia, Ermanno Scervino, Forte Forte, James Perse, La Perla, Malo, Missoni, Moschino, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, Theory, REDValentino and many others. In our multi-brand store EDEN Monte-Carlo, which has a more contemporary and sustainable focus, we stock and support local designers as well as up-and-coming brands.
Since LVMH and Kering Group have directly operated structures in the Principality, we have focused on many of the independent American, British and Italian fashion houses, and over the years have assisted and advised big names such as Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana and Giuseppe Zanotti in coming to Monaco. We believe the Principality can rival other big cities, as one of the best shopping destinations in the world, and are dedicated to play a role in this endeavor.
With the rise of e-commerce is the brick-and-mortar store in decline in Monaco?
The role of the brick-and-mortar store will definitely change, however it will remain the main point of interaction between consumer and brand and will remain essential for brand awareness and visibility.
We believe the future is doubling down on the 47 “experience” of shopping. The luxury fashion business is very relationship-based and personal, and while automation, artificial intelligence, data collection, e-commerce and social media will definitely play very important roles in the future, you cannot replace the human touch.
While e-commerce may hurt low to medium level brick- and-mortar stores in big cities, we are in a completely different business. In our sector, when a client spends €10,000 on a dress, they will want to go to the luxury boutique, enjoy the service, and try on the dress in an enjoyable and exclusive environment.
Monaco is an experience in its own right, as an all year round resort town hosting world-renowned events such as the Grand Prix, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and the Yacht Show. We are a tourist destination like no other offering the A-Z of luxury lifestyle, we have beautiful weather and beautiful people, who really comes here on holiday to shop indoors on their smartphone or computer?
Nevertheless, looking towards to the future, an omni- channel strategy is required. Last year, we became the first partners of NYSE-listed Farfetch in Monaco, which is a global e-commerce platform for boutiques to sell their products online. Farfetch CEO, Jose Neves referred to our partnership in Monaco during Farfetch’s earnings call in Q2 2019, this was definitely a proud moment for us.
What role do you think Monaco can continue to play in the world of fashion?
As a historical destination for the jet set and ultra- rich, Monaco is a powerful brand name in itself. It is a very special place where the lifestyle ideals, heritage and values that are at the core of the luxury fashion industry come to reality. Monaco has a decorated history of fashion personalities coming here, perhaps the most idolized and sought after luxury item of all time is named after Princess Grace of Monaco.
In advocating environmentalism, Prince Albert has paved a way for the Principality to play a role in calling for fashion sustainability. We believe sustainable fashion and social responsibility will become the new normal, and see opportunities in developing that sector from here in Monaco.
Our Company looks forward to supporting and collaborating with a future generation of Monaco fashion entrepreneurs, designers and influencers to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We may be from a small country, but with a global perspective, we have a very big role to play.