With the Home Furnishings Market Poised to Exceed $1 Trillion, Fashion Brands Are Looking to Cash In

Luxury clothing labels are wandering from the wardrobe into the living room. Louis Vuitton is selling swing chairs. Gucci offers candleholders that it recommends repurposing as flowerpots. Hermès does wallpaper. These offerings go beyond the interdisciplinary experimenting that attention-seeking, novelty-loving fashion brands often do. Perhaps that's because home decor is an exciting market in its own right, experts point out. The global home furnishings market is growing “significantly faster” than the fashion market, according to Petah Marian, senior editor at WGSN Insight, a consumer trend forecasting group. WGSN estimates that the former will balloon from $730 billion in 2017 to more than $1 trillion by 2025.

New collections mirror this phenomenon: For its most recent range, Loewe commissioned international artisans to make baskets in the LVMH-owned brand’s signature leather. Dior, meanwhile, has enlisted Milan-based Dimore Studio to create 14 objects that are currently available via special order only, including a gold-and-steel candelabra and a rattan umbrella stand wrapped in gold-plated brass and black metal trim.

Loewe explored the craft of basketry at Salone del Mobile in Milan this year. Photo courtesy Loewe

As ever, capsule collections like these extend the awareness of a brand. “Fashion has done such a good job of creating identities and moods through their ad campaigns and social media,” says Raffaella Vignatelli, CEO of Luxury Living Group, which designs, produces, and distributes furniture under license for Fendi and Trussardi. “Being able to offer their clients a way to expand that lifestyle concept beyond clothes makes perfect sense.” By populating its new three-story London boutique with own-brand objects, for example, Loewe makes the experience of shopping there all the more focused.

There’s a generational shift behind this trend as well, Marian explains. With millennials more likely to work from home and make use of home-delivery services, they are more inclined than their predecessors to spend disposable income on their domestic spaces.

The outlook is similar in the high-end sector. True, the market for luxury home decor is a fraction of what it is for personal luxury goods, which Bain & Company defines as apparel, bags, shoes, jewelry, watches, and beauty products—$40 billion a year compared to about $300 billion. But that gap may be closing.

“Growth potential [in home goods] is high, especially in Asia, where the brandization potential is still huge,” says Matteo Luoni, a luxury expert at Bain & Company Italy. “With the right business model and value proposition, market entry in high-quality design for luxury brands is not necessarily dilutive in terms of profit margin.”

Luxury fashion brands have noted the writing on the wall. And for $300 a roll, Hermès will help you paper over it in high style. The iconic French house launched a home collection in 2011; rival Louis Vuitton did the same in 2012. Bottega Veneta’s home line, initiated under former design director Tomas Maier, proved so successful that the brand opened a furniture studio in the Veneto region in 2015.

How fast homeware became the new fast fashion

The pandemic proved a boon to cheap and cheerful interiors, but will trend-led furniture reach the same monstrous proportions as its clothing counterpart?

COVID-19 reduced our social lives to a single daily ‘silly little walk’. With a walk around the block providing no good reason to wear anything remotely interesting – and stopping to take a photo of it for the grid running the risk of a police interrogation about ‘non-essential’ activity – we turned our collective attention inwards, to our homes. Seeking visual respite from the same four walls, our bedrooms became both our outlet and our content fodder, and a stream of cheap new candles, cushions, vases, and lamps were the subjects. A 2021 survey found that 68 per cent of UK adults shopped online for their home at least once a month during the pandemic. 19 per cent, which amounts to nearly one in five, did so multiple times per week. People shopped so much for cheap, cheerful, trend-led homeware, that it gave the sector a serious boost, with a 42 per cent rise in homeware sales helping kickstart the long journey to retail recovery.

Spotting an opportunity, ultra-fast online retailers got in on the game and Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, and Missguided all launched homeware lines within six months of each other at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. John Lewis, known for sitting at the pricier end of the market, joined in too. Launching its ANYDAY range in April 2021, prices are, on average, around 20 per cent lower than the department store’s existing own brand. Just as fast fashion normalised posting a new outfit everyday, fast homeware normalised the constant tweaking, updating, and redesigning of living spaces. Homeware hauls from the aforementioned fast fashion brands and others including H&M, Primark, Shein, and Zara became standard content on YouTube and TikTok, and distinct style camps emerged. The defining lockdown trend was undoubtedly ‘Avant Basic’ (christened as such by former Dazed head of fashion Emma Hope Allwood). Rooted in fashion before seeping into homeware, it was all about checkered textiles, tiled coffee tables, wavy mirrors, mushroom lamps, and stuff covered in expanding foam.

avant basic is a LIFESTYLE

Maryan Barbara
Maryan Barbara

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