Chanel opens ultra-luxury private boutiques for VIPs — Quartz

High-end fashion houses have always loved their wealthy customers. But lately, brands like Chanel, worried that their standard in-store experience isn’t exclusive enough, have decided to offer their biggest spenders something new: entire private boutiques to peruse.

These private boutiques, which are invitation-only to the highest level of clientele, are set to open next year and are part of the French house’s push for more exclusivity. Last year, Chanel raised the prices of its handbags three times, pushing some models past the $10,000 mark. Chanel bags now cost an average of 71% more than before the pandemic, according to brokerage Jefferies.

The strategy seems to be working. Lines are regularly spotted on their doorsteps and last year Chanel’s revenue jumped 50% from 2020. Major luxury groups at all levels are ignoring the war in Ukraine and the collapse of the stock market, indicating a stratification of spending between the wealthy and the affluent.

To be clear, many luxury brand flagship stores already have a demarcated top floor or private wing that is only accessible to VIPs, but a waning pandemic is driving demand for extraordinary experiences. The new private store strategy will also distinguish between resellers who take advantage of tax and currency differences to return products and genuine customers who love the brand.

These exclusive stores are expected to open in Asia first. Not only is this where most of the future growth in luxury lies, but Asian shoppers are placing a much higher priority on an exclusive shopping experience, according to a report by Julius Baer released this week.

“Europeans want a quality product with good advice and follow-up, while those in Asia are more interested in an exclusive shopping experience,” he said. “That might explain why most of the most luxury brand boutiques today are in Dubai or Shanghai, not London or Milan.”

Invitation-only stores are a growing trend in luxury fashion

It’s not just Chanel either. Last December, Brunello Cucinelli opened a boutique by appointment in New York City, a space designed to make customers feel as if they were entering the designer’s home. That same year, Harrods, the much-vaunted British department store, began rolling out its “residence” concepts across China. First opened in Shanghai and then in Beijing, the spaces are strictly by invitation to its best customers.

“I don’t think the ultra-wealthy segment wants to make their way into a mall,” Harrods chief executive Michael Ward said at the time. “They want to be able to be dropped off, taken to their private suite and meet their friends.”

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