I'm not sure if these are sold out yet, but Joyce is now peddling a line of exclusive iPhone cases designed for their annual Truly Gifted line, which went on sale last week and will go until March 14. Last year, they released a limited-edition USB stick by Alexander McQueen, but this time they've partnered with no less than six design houses, including Anna Sui, Marni, Bless, Dries van Noten, Etro and Rick Owens.
Now maybe my standards are a bit high, but does it seem like some put more effort than others into their little creation? Having six designers really creates a scale for judgement. For example, is slapping your logo on a bright yellow case tantamount to releasing your own branded limited-edition iPhone case? I would think not, but here Dries is certainly doing it... and I'm betting some brand whores are buying, too, given that four out of the six aren't stamped with logos, thus rendering them indistinguishable from the HK$38 cases you can buy in any shop on the street. Sort of. Bless' pebble-shaped creation is no doubt the most unique, but I could get on board with Etro's, which utilizes the house's signature print work, or even Rick Owen's crater-faced creation.
All of this leads me to wonder at which point the dilution of brand value will actually begin to affect luxury retailers. It's great for the consumer, and especially the Hong Kong consumer, that luxury-good retailers are spreading their wings into numerous markets, instead of concentrating on the US and Europe as in years past. Asia has always put up with a lot of complaints regarding fake designer goods, which is fair, because you can find a lotta fakes out here. But what about the brands who are whoring their name out to the point that for every seasonal item offered, there's an equivalent limited-edition version produced? Flooding our continent with a small supply of unimaginative exclusive goodies isn't exactly pumping up the value of your brand, is it?
Many luxury houses get into the fragrance market because it's a way to increase their brand's reach at lower income levels. For the gal who can't own a Gucci bag, for example, there's always the Gucci Envy perfume. That, I understand: you want consumers to be able to access you on some level while they save up for the big-ticket items. A small stable of exclusive products goes in the opposite direction, intended to reward those who are truly loyal to the brand.
And now we have something not quite here, not quite there: exclusives that aren't that exciting, intended to please whom, I wonder?