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Brief Published: 11 Feb 2020

Retail-Gastro Luxe: Premium Players Launch Restaurants

Louis Vuitton Le Café V

Affirming the luxury sector’s increasing interest in mining the ‘experience economy’, this week French luxury juggernaut Louis Vuitton will follow a host of fellow prestige players by opening its first restaurant, Le Café V, on the top floor of its four-storey flagship in Osaka, Japan.

The launch bets on the fact that Japan remains one of the most prominent regions globally for luxury spending – in 2018, it resumed its love affair with luxe to become the world’s third biggest market for luxury goods, after the US and mainland China (Statista, 2019). More significantly, it spotlights Louis Vuitton’s confidence that Japan’s luxe-loving audience, especially a group dubbed the ‘Ikina-rich’ (young entrepreneurs swapping ostentatious affluence for stimulating experiences) are ready to pivot towards more ephemeral treats.

“The future of luxury will not only be in luxury goods, as it’s been for many years, but also in luxury experiences, and we want to be in both segments,” said Bernard Arnault, chief executive of parent company LVMH. A second café is reported to be opening in the brand’s London flagship in Mayfair later in 2020.

The launch echoes US jewellery brand Tiffany & Co.’s opening of its Blue Box Café in Harrods department store in London this month, and in August 2019, Italian label Fendi commandeered the same department store’s fifth floor café in a full creative-culinary takeover.

Meanwhile, Italian fashion giant Prada has been going with a luxurious gastro-flow for some time: Bar Luce, within the Fondazione Prada (a brand-owned institution dedicated to arts and culture), which was designed by iconic American film director Wes Anderson who has previously collaborated with the brand on short film projects. The instantly recognisable aesthetic of beautiful symmetry in saturated colours is echoed in Marchesi 1824, the legendary Milan patisserie, which was originally acquired by the brand in 2014 and gained a second outpost in May 2019 on Mount Street in Mayfair.

See also Retail: Experiential Luxe, 2019.