The latest “it bag” is affordable, accessible, and counts Beyonce as a fan. Here’s what its business model is doing right.

Telfar
  • Fashion brand Telfar is rewriting the rules of luxury and it’s not hard for other brands to follow suit.
  • With its Bag Security Program, customers have a better chance of snagging the brand’s high-demand products.
  • Experts explain why it’s paving the way for next-gen luxury consumers and entrepreneurs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tianni Graham, 27, remembers the “before times” – that is, the harrowing months before Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program.

It was early last summer and she, along with thousands of others, was stuck testing their luck each day trying to buy the wildly popular Telfar handbag whose celeb fans include Beyonce, Selena Gomez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Solange. But they often sold out before anyone could click ‘check out.’

It turns out, robots and resellers were buying products in bulk, making it harder for real customers to purchase them. So, last summer, Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program, in hopes of giving customers better access to its bags by allowing patrons 24 hours to pre-order any bag on the site, with no limits on how many can be purchased. The bag is then made to order, and shipped directly to the customer.

Its first drop, which happened last August, brought in about $20 million – about 10x what Telfar made in all of 2019.

Suddenly, Graham, who is also a fashion archivist and consultant, had her green Telfar bag. It arrived right before Christmas and was a “present to myself,’ she told Insider, adding that other brands could benefit from implementing a similar program. “It would make things so much easier and make the customer feel like you care.”

The program’s success shows how a luxury brand can create accessibility without losing the allure of exclusivity. The old-school model for luxury brands states the product should be scarce and elite, but the next generation of high-end consumers and entrepreneurs are taking a different route.

What’s more, Telfar is growing its exposure by becoming an official sponsor of the Liberian National team for the Olympics – Clemens is of Liberian descent. Additionally, the brand released collaborations with Ugg and Converse, accessible brands that are affordable to a mass audience, rather than Louis Vuittion and Supreme or Dior and Nike partnerships, which target the aspirational class.

Teflar is rewriting the rules of luxury, and this time, it’s not too hard for other brands to follow suit.

Telfar ‘white glove treatment’ is what next-gen luxury shoppers crave

Young consumers look less at price tags and more at brand values when determining where to spend their money; these next-gen consumers want sustainability, inclusivity, and a sense of community. The new “white glove treatment” when it comes to luxury shopping is a speedy online checkout from a brand that cares.

For Telfar’s latest drop this week, customers had the option to use the payment installment plan Klarna, making it even easier for those looking to obtain a bag. While customers will have to wait a few months before receiving the bag, people often spend years on a Birkin bag “waiting list” and most will probably never get one.

Shortly before Telfar’s program ended this week, a spokesperson for the brand told Insider it was, already, “going very well.”

Telfar started with an aim of inclusive luxury

Telfar was founded in 2005 by its eponymous founder Telfar Clemens and has dedicated the past two decades to building an inclusive business model.

In 2014, it released its now-iconic vegan leather handbag, which takes inspiration from a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag. The bags became widely available around 2018 after Telfar won $400,000 from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, allowing the company to expand production.

Clemens described his brand to The Cut as being “genderless, democratic, and transformative,” purposely seeking to challenge the notion that high fashion is only for a certain group of people, with the brand motto being “Not For You – For Everyone.”

Telfar

Now, Telfar bags come in three sizes, with prices ranging from $150 to $257. (For comparison, Birkin bags go for at least $12,000 while Black-owned luxury brands such as Brother Veilles go for at least $1,295.)

As reported by FT, handbag sales in the US declined 18% between 2016 and 2019. Yet, Telfar stood out – in 2016, the brand earned $102,000, growing to earn $2 million in 2019. Last year, New York Magazine deemed its bag the “Bushwick Birkin” and the brand was on pace to earn eight figures, even as the fashion industry was expected to take a 90% loss in profits due to the pandemic.

Boston Consulting Group’s Head of Luxury Sarah Willersdorf told Insider that Telfar has checked all the boxes on what it takes to connect with next-gen luxury shoppers. She said the brand has a narrative that “evokes emotion” and properly intertwines timelessness, creative partnerships, and culturally relevant authorities. GQ pointed out Telfar’s customer base was built, not through influencers, but through “customer aspiration alone.”

Telfar
Telfar Clemens.

Raising the bar for next-gen luxury

Brands like Telfar are important in proving accessible business models can be just as lucrative. Willersdorf expects other brands to follow similar strategies in a post-pandemic world, as shopping continues to pivot online.

In the old days – a pre-millennial world, perhaps – having too much of a product is thought to dilute its value. The Bag Security program defies that. But even the most tech-savvy luxury brand is often behind the curve, as Insider has previously reported.

“Luxury brands are always nervous,” Joseph Yakuel, CEO and founder of consulting firm Within, told Insider last year. “There’s so much risk to them tarnishing their brand reputation because luxury brand price points are only supported by their perception, and if their brand perception goes down market, their price point gets eroded very quickly.”

Clemens and his artistic director, Babak Radboy, said they aren’t worried about oversaturation. It’s about community, now. The new “white glove treatment” is making sure everybody gets a pair that fits perfectly.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Iconic luxury department store Harrods will now rent you clothes from high-end designers, and $1,000 dresses cost $20 a day

Harrods
The window display at Harrods in London’s Knightsbridge.

  • UK luxury department store Harrods will now let shoppers rent designer clothes.
  • Prices start at $8 a day to rent a designer top. There is a four-day minimum rental period.
  • Dresses that would normally cost more than $1,000 to buy can be rented for about $20 a day.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One of the world’s most iconic luxury department stores, Harrods, has joined a growing list of retailers joining the fashion rental market.

London-based Harrods has partnered with a UK fashion rental marketplace My Wardrobe HQ to let customers rent the designer brands sold at its Knightsbridge store.

Prices start at $8 a day for a minimum of four days to rent a designer top. Dresses that would normally cost more than $1,000 to buy can be rented for about $20 a day.

According to Business of Fashion, Harrods will provide the stock and My Wardrobe HQ will handle the logistics and marketing. Customers can rent the clothes via My Wardrobe HQ’s website or in its pop-up location at the Harrods store.

The fashion rental business is booming, spurred by companies such as Rent the Runway launching subscription-based services for customers to rent clothes. Increasingly, retailers have been partnering with clothes-rental sites or launching their own services, such as Urban Outfitters’ Nuuly.

For Harrods, it’s a way of using last season’s inventory that was stuck in stores over the pandemic.

“There have been many spectacular collections and stand-out pieces that haven’t had the chance to be seen or celebrated, so offering these pieces to our customers to rent for their next event is a way of giving these products a new life,” Harrods fashion director Lydia King told WWD.

“Our fashion customers have more weddings, birthdays and other celebrations than ever before, and the joy of event dressing is back,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why Hermès Birkin bags are so expensive, according to a handbag expert

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Hermès Birkin bags are some of the most expensive bags in the world, ranging anywhere from $9,000 to half a million dollars. The bags embody absolute luxury.

– A Birkin bag?

– You’ve heard of it?

– Of course. That’s a very nice purse.

Narrator: The exclusive accessory’s even considered by some to be a better investment than gold or the stock market. And the world’s most expensive bag is an Hermès Himalaya Birkin bag that sold for $500,000. So what is it that makes Birkin bags so expensive? The story of the bag begins with its namesake: Jane Birkin. On a flight from Paris to London, the English actress happened to be seated next to the chief executive of Hermès, Jean-Louis Dumas.

Pilot: Flight attendants, please prepare for takeoff.

Narrator: Jane was known for carrying a wicker basket wherever she went and used it for everything from groceries to diapers. When she tried to fit her famous basket in the overhead compartment, the lid came off, spilling the contents everywhere. Jane complained to her seatmate that it was impossible to find a weekend bag she liked. Dumas introduced himself as the head of Hermès, and the pair spent the flight sketching possible handbag designs on the back of an airplane sick bag. A year later, Dumas presented Jane with the Birkin bag, a spacious yet sophisticated leather design perfect for everyday use. The Birkin’s pockets made it highly functional, and the bag seals to prevent anything from spilling. Hermès makes the bags in France using premium materials like calf skin, alligator skin, and even ostrich skin. Each bag is made entirely by hand.

Although Birkins are one of the most exclusive and sought-after bags today, they actually weren’t all that popular when they first launched. It wasn’t until the ’90s that the Birkin became one of the it-bags of the era. Now they’re the ultimate status symbol. Victoria Beckham reportedly has a collection of over 100 Birkins, estimated to be worth over $2 million, and Singaporean socialite and entrepreneur Jamie Chua is considered to have the world’s largest Birkin collection with over 200 bags.

But you can’t just walk into Hermès and get one. While there used to be a wait list, nowadays all you can do is hope to be important enough or spend enough to be offered a Birkin bag. And if you’re offered one, don’t expect to be able to choose the color or size.

Hermès also places limits on how many Birkin bags a client can purchase per year. This dedication to preserving the exclusivity of the bag has certainly paid off, and the disparity in demand and access has created a thriving resale market.

A 2017 study revealed that the value of Hermès Birkin bags has increased 500% in the last 35 years, an increase of 14% per year. One of the most coveted models comes from Hermès’ Himalaya collection, which comes in three sizes. Often referred to as the holy grail of handbags, the white Himalaya Birkin bag features 18-karat white gold hardware and more than 200 diamonds. The 35-centimeter model in particular is very rare and has sold at record prices year after year. Most recently in 2019, it sold for over half a million dollars. Professional sports betting consultant David Oancea, also known as Vegas Dave, made the record-breaking purchase.

David Oancea: The reason I bought the Birkin bag is I love breaking records. I broke all the sports betting records, I wanted to break the most-expensive-bag record. I’m all about raising the bar. Also, it’s about supply and demand. The only other one in the world is by Steve Harvey’s wife, so there’s only two in the world. Not even Kim Kardashian has this, so I actually bought it for content, believe it or not, so I could take videos with it, pictures of it, getting people to talk about me.

Narrator: The record-breaking sale actually took place over social media.

Oancea: Sale was pretty easy. I posted on social media, I have about a million followers, that I’m looking for a bag. This lady hit me up, Privé Porter. She messaged me, said she’d get me the bag. I realized it was the most expensive bag. She said it would break the record. And this is for sure the record, $500,000?

– Absolutely, most expensive bag ever sold.

Oancea: We closed this deal in about three to four days, really, really fast. I actually do use the bag. Most people think I’m crazy. They put it away like in a safe, and they never touch it again. I’ve taken it out twice, once to a night club in Vegas as a great piece of content. It’s definitely worth the cost ’cause you could offer me a million dollars cash, and I wouldn’t sell it. My asking price is $2 million. If not, I’ll just keep the d— thing.

Narrator: It’s also made with white or albino crocodile skin, which is extremely rare. The costly skin is painstakingly dyed to emulate the snowy appearance of the Himalayan mountains.

Mason Howell: The high retail value and resale value is because these are pieces of artwork. These artisans train years and years to make one of these bags, and they may even train 10 years before even they’re allowed to make a Birkin.

Narrator: Another reason for the bag’s high price of course is the limited availability. The total number of Birkin bags Hermès produces each year is a well-guarded secret, but it’s estimated that there may be around 200,000 in circulation. And for the luxury resale market, Birkin bags are a hot commodity. Online retailer Privé Porter uses Instagram and WhatsApp to sell the bags online, and luxury reseller The RealReal has hundreds of Birkins available at any given time, many of which are priced well above the original retail cost.

Howell: The Birkin bag does retain and sometimes exceeds its value. It really does depend on the leather, the color, the size of the bag, you know, the hardware. There are so many factors that go into pricing a Birkin that it could really vary. However, if you do buy a Birkin, let’s say in 2004, and maybe the retail at that time was $5,000, you most likely will be able to sell it, even if you have worn it so many times, for $5,000, $6,000.

Narrator: Even as resellers like The RealReal and Privé Porter have made more Birkins available than ever, the prices haven’t gone down.

Howell: If you go to Hermès, you may not always get the exact color, size, that you want. Here, we have almost every single option, and if that means you have to pay a small premium, people and our clients are willing to do so. Even though that there has been such a saturation of these bags, not one bag is the same. So let’s say an Etain Birkin 35 with gold hardware, we only have one right now, and if it’s sold, we may not get another for a while, so someone’s looking for that, and they’d be willing to pay an extra maybe $10,000 to get that bag as soon as possible, and all these bags are handmade, artisan craftsmanship. It’s a piece of artwork. Not one is the same, not even one stitch.

Narrator: So if you have an extra $10,000 lying around, it could be worthwhile to invest it in a Birkin. Just make sure that you’re not falling for a fake. From Canal Street in New York City to websites like eBay, the counterfeit market is full of luxury knockoffs, and Birkins are no exception. Back in 2012, Hermès sued several websites for selling fake products and won $100 million in damages.

That same year, French police cracked down on an international crime ring that was manufacturing counterfeit Birkin bags. The crime ring reportedly included actual Hermès employees. Only two employees were arrested, but Hermès believed that several other employees could have been involved. And despite all their efforts, fake products continue to flood the market. The quality of counterfeit bags has also vastly improved over the years, making it difficult to tell whether a bag is real or fake. However, there are a few tricks to spotting a fake Birkin.

Howell: The handle should never be too long. If they look too long, longer than the bag, then it is most likely inauthentic. The hardware shouldn’t be too shiny or protrude out, and the feet, another big thing, it’s one of the best things I always check, is that the feet should never screw off. They are hammered in. The leather itself should feel very supple, very luxurious.

Narrator: And if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. While many other handbag styles have come and gone, it looks like the Birkin is here to stay. And the bag has become synonymous with status in a way that many other luxury goods have yet to.

Despite its popularity, the bag features no prominent logos and is only recognizable to people who already know what it is. In Birkin, Hermès has created something that feels inaccessible unless highly exclusive. As for whether the Birkin will always be so expensive, only time will tell.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in June 2019.

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I own 2 Hamptons hot spots that have been booked solid for a month. People will do just about anything to snag a table, from flashing cash to pretending they know me.

Provided by Zach Erdem restaurant owner the Hamptons Blu Mar 75 Main
Since reopening in June, restaurant owner Zach Erdem says demand in the Hamptons has skyrocketed.

  • Zach Erdem is the owner of 75 Main and Blu Mar, two hotspot restaurant and bar destinations in Southampton, New York.
  • His restaurants reopened at full capacity on June 1, and have been booked solid ever since.
  • Here’s what it’s like running his restaurants post-pandemic, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Reopening my restaurants felt as if we’d all suddenly been released from a year-long cage, and now everyone is trying to make up for lost time.

The Hamptons are filled with people who aren’t used to hearing ‘no.’ With much fewer restaurants, bars, and clubs than places like Manhattan or Miami, the demand has skyrocketed beyond belief, and people are going to greater lengths to get in and be seen. I’ve never seen anything like it.

On a typical weekend at 75 Main, we serve between 1,200 and 1,400 people a day, and still manage to have a packed bar and a line out the door.

75 Main the Hamptons Zach Erdem crowd
A typical line during the weekend outside of 75 Main.

Reservations are filled weeks in advance for 75 main, and at Blu Mar every weekend all summer is already fully booked. Walk-ins can try their luck and hope for a cancellation – some people wait for over an hour for the chance to score a table.

For the first time ever, I’m telling servers to not even suggest coffee or dessert unless the party specifically requests it. I’ve also instructed servers to drop the check off shortly after the entree comes out on weekends to speed up turnover.

These days everybody claims to know me – women come in and pretend they’re my sister or girlfriend.

Zach Erdem Blu Mar
Erdem says complete strangers claim to know him to try to get into the restaurants.

Strangers come to the door and insist they’ve been coming here forever. Sometimes I’m standing right there, and they don’t even know it’s me because they have no idea what I look like.

I have a code with the staff. If I give them a thumbs up, they can let them in but if I raise two fingers, it’s a no. Let’s just say there’s more raised fingers than thumbs up this season.

One of the more creative ruses to get into Buddha Lounge at Blu Mar happened recently when a guy approached the doorman, showing him a fake text conversation supposedly between me and him along the lines of “Skip the line and tell the doorman I said to let you know in to VIP, no cover charge.”

It worked, but later that night the doorman pointed out my so-called friend and I’d never seen him in my life. I walked up, introduced myself, and said while I was impressed with his resourcefulness and he was free to enjoy his night, he should never come back again.

While making up stories and offering tips to gain entry is nothing new in hospitality, people are taking it to a bold new level this season.

Blu Mar the Hamptons  Zach Erdem
A busy weekend brunch hour at Blu Mar.

People have gone so far as to ask staff for their Venmo handle to send them money, or ask what their favorite store is and then drop off a gift card to curry favor.

I had a gentleman come into 75 Main one weekend and request a table for four for dinner. The dining room was completely packed, so I told him he could wait at the bar for a table to open in an hour or so.

He asked if he bought the most expensive bottle of wine we had, which was $1,500, could I find a way to seat him right away? I wasn’t sure he was serious, but he purchased the wine and no sooner did we uncork the bottle than a table opened up. I cut the line and gave him the table. Everyone was happy.

Flashing cash is just the tip of the iceberg – we have one diner who regularly gives our hostesses vintage jewelry she no longer wears.

Other guests have offered private helicopter rides, jaunts on million-dollar yachts, and even weeklong stays in lavish guest homes.

When it comes to our regulars, I’ll do anything I can to accommodate them. When they get served and I get paid, it’s a win-win. I want to ensure my loyal customers are happy because at the end of the day, we’re planning on sticking around for the long haul.

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I repossess private yachts worth up to $20 million when owners default on their loans. Here’s what happens when I track them down.

Ken Cage and a 120-foot yacht that he repossessed.
Ken Cage has been a high-asset repo man for over a decade.

  • Ken Cage repossesses high-end luxury assets like yachts and jets whose owners have failed to pay their loans.
  • Since 2005, Cage’s team has repossessed 2,000 boats, some of which are worth as much as $20 million.
  • Here’s what his job is like, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I first met my buddy Bob Weeks when we were 10 years old, growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Now, almost five decades later, we’re in business together repossessing yachts and private jets from all over the country.

It’s our job to chase down expensive assets from people who have defaulted on their bank loans. At the end of the day, we’re a bank’s last resort. When the bank calls me and issues a repo contract, it means they’ve exhausted all of their internal efforts – their automated reminders, follow-up phone calls, past due letters, and administrative attempts to be paid back have been largely ignored by the borrower.

I usually come in around 60 to 65 days after the ‘past-due’ marker.

Ken Cage yacht repo
A 90-foot yacht from one of Cage’s repos.

Once my repo team gets involved, it’s time to kick things up a notch. My job is to retrieve the collateral any way I can, service it, sell it to a third party, and recoup the cash for the bank. My company only charges between $400 and $1,000 for the actual recovery; our real payday comes from the sale of the asset itself. The standard yacht broker commission is 10% but the rate decreases as the value of the yacht goes up, and we negotiate on a case-by-case basis with our clients.

Since Bob and I bought an existing repo company based in Florida in 2005, we’ve repossessed 2,000 boats and sold off more than half of them, ranging from a $1,000 1975 Trojan 32′ to a $20 million Benetti 160’+.

Most of the time when the bank gives us a repo contract, they provide very few details.

Pulling lines away from the dock to repossess a boat. Ken Cage
Pulling lines away from the dock to repossess a boat.

We usually get the debtor’s name and last known address, and the year, make, and model of the boat along with the Hull ID or VIN number. The rest is up to us.

Banks can also simultaneously open the repo contract up to multiple repo companies, making our job even more challenging because then it becomes a race to see who can find the asset and repo it first.

This happened to me and my partner, Danny Thompson, when we were on the Discovery Channel show Airplane Repo in 2014. We were repossessing a $3 million custom-built yacht when another repo crew showed up and began towing the boat with us on it. Danny managed to cut the tow line and I drove the boat away, leaving the other repo guys in our wake. That job alone earned us $300,000 commission.

For each repo, we begin with an online search of state registries. We also check the US Coast Guard history which provides the chain of ownership and any name changes for the yachts. Then we start making calls. Sometimes, we’re able to locate a boat with just one call thanks to local spotters around the country keeping an eye out for us.

At the end of the day, I’m not here to embarrass anyone – I’m just here to recover the bank’s assets.

Ken Cage Azimut yacht.
A repo’d Azimut yacht.

When I do come face to face with a debtor, I always tell them no one has to know why I’m here. For all I care, they can tell onlookers I’m buying their boat from them and they’re ripping me off. If they cooperate, they can save face. It’s all about tapping into their ego. One guy even helped me by hooking up his own boat for me to repo so he didn’t look bad.

Often, deep down debtors are just relieved it’s all over; they know it’s just a matter of time until we catch up with them. But there are the belligerent types who will put up a fight. I had one guy in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Area who chained the propeller of his boat to the dock in the hopes of causing damage to it, as one last shot at the bank.

Over the years, I’ve been in high speed chases on sea and land and dodged booby traps set up by angry debtors.

Ken Cage yacht repo
Cage transporting a repo’d yacht and riding a Jetski in search of another yacht.

I’ve dealt with professional athletes twice my size looking to fight me, a drunk wielding a shovel at my head, being shot at, you name it.

Even though I’m surrounded by boats, I’ve never owned one because I didn’t have the time to enjoy it. Between 2005 and 2012, I was on the road about 250 days a year. But now that my four kids are older, we’re looking into getting a 24′-30′ fun family boat. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll pay for it in cash.

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The world’s biggest luxury giant spent $835 million refurbishing a department store in Paris, and it’s now open to the public. Take a look inside.

The handbag department at La Samaritaine department store in Paris
  • LVMH on Monday unveiled its $835 million refurb of Paris department store La Samaritaine.
  • The luxury conglomerate’s elaborate refurb took seven years.
  • The building also houses a luxury hotel, a beauty salon, a spa, and 12 restaurants.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
La Samaritaine is a large department store located on the banks of the River Seine, close to the Louvre museum. LVMH, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate, bought the building in 2001 and later spent seven years renovating it.

An exterior shot of La Samaritaine department store in Paris
Billionaire Bernard Arnault is CEO and chairman of LVMH. He’s currently the third richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg.

It’s been shut for 16 years after it was deemed unsafe and closed in 2005.

LVMH — run by one of the world’s richest men, Bernard Arnault — spent €750 million ($895 million) refurbishing the space, transforming it into a luxury shopping destination.  

This week, it opened its doors to the public after being painstakingly restored.

The opening of La Samaritaine in Paris
President Macron joins Bernard Arnault.

French President Emmanuel Macron joined LVMH CEO Arnault to open the new store on Monday. 

The retail portion of the building is around 20,000 square feet.

Women's fashion at La Samaritaine department store in Paris
Women’s hats.

There’s also 15,000 square feet of office space, 96 social housing units, and a hotel.

The hotel, called Cheval Blanc Paris, won’t open until September 7.

La Samaritiaine  exterior shot
It has 72 luxury rooms and suites.

According to Bloomberg, prices for a room start at €1,150 ($1,400) per night. 

There are areas devoted to men’s and women’s fashion, beauty, and accessories.

Interior shot of La Samaritaine department store in Paris
Customers can spend an entire day here.

There are more than 600 different brands in the store – from legacy designers to newer brands, which are spread across seven levels. 

The glass roof is one of its most iconic features.

The staircase at La Samaritaine department store in Paris
Light floods into the store through the roof.

According to LVMH, this was rebuilt to match the original design from 1905.

Just below the roof, on the top floor of the building, is one of its bar-restaurants, Voyage.

Space Voyage restaurant at La Samaritaine department store in Paris
The bar closes at 2am.

According to Vogue Business, this bar stays open long after the store closes at 8 p.m..

There are a dozen restaurants in the building.

Restaurant at La Samaritaine department store in Paris
These range from more formal sit-down restaurants to bakeries.

There’s a spa and beauty salon, too.

The beauty section at La Samaritaine
The hair salon.

“We strive to move away from the purely transactional side,” Benjamin Vuchot, chairman and CEO of DFS Group, which operates the building for LVMH, told Vogue Business

In a world where shopping is undergoing tremendous change, we have to find different solutions. Hence the food & beverage, the spa, the hair salon,” he said. 

But luxury shopping is still at the heart of the space, and it’s a place for LVMH to display and sell all the brands that it owns.

Men's department at La Samaritaine department store in Paris
The men’s clothing section in the store.

LVMH owns 75 brands.

An interior shot of La Samaritaine department store in Paris
Champagne bottles lined up in the store.

These include Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Dom Pérignon champagne to name a few.

 

The focus is all on shopping in-store – the store’s website is mainly to book beauty or hair appointments.

The handbag department at La Samaritaine department store in Paris
The luxury handbag department.

The department store was initially meant to reopen in 2020, but this was delayed because of the pandemic.

Boutique store at La Samaritaine
Loulou concept store.

With international travel still mostly at a standstill, it could be a while before tourists flock to the building — and tourist spending is vital to the luxury industry. 

 

“We expect it will take one or two years for tourists to really return,” the regional president at DFS Group, Eleonore De Boysson, said at a press conference this week, which was reported by Bloomberg.

The women's fashion department at La Samaritaine department store in Paris
Menswear.

For now, “we want Parisians to reclaim La Samaritaine,” she said

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9 of the most exclusive spots in Disney parks

We all know Disney parks aren’t really affordable to begin with, but if you’re looking to sprinkle a little extra Disney elegance into your visit, there are plenty of ways to experience the magic like a true king or queen. A nice queen, don’t worry.

Here’s our list of the most exclusive spots in America’s Disney parks.

1. Cinderella Castle Suite

First up, the Cinderella Castle Suite. At the top of the iconic Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom, there’s a private suite hidden inside. With towering princess beds, an ornate bathroom, and “Cinderella” props throughout, the suite is definitely fit for a royal. A night’s stay here is so exclusive, you can’t actually book it. The suite is by invite only. But it’s rumored Disney turned down an offer of $40,000 for a one-night stay. Some lucky fans have scored a stay by winning various contests. Special guests at the Cinderella Suite have included Tom Cruise and Mariah Carey.

2. Imagineer Dinner

You’ve probably heard of the Disney Imagineers – or the masterminds behind the rides, the shows, the music, pretty much everything that’s cool at Disney parks – and if you’ve ever wanted to meet one, we’ll do you one better. How about a dinner with an Imagineer? Once a month, you can learn from one of these Disney legends over a four-course meal at Cítricos in the Grand Floridian Resort. The only thing is, you won’t know who you’re eating with until you get there. The experience will set you back $89 and is limited to guests 14 and older.

3. Victoria and Albert’s

Located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Victoria and Albert’s is probably the ritziest restaurant at Disney World. With only 18 tables, reservations are required, and a fancy dress code is strictly enforced. But getting all glammed up is definitely worth it for their chef’s tasting menu. The 11-course meal comes in at $250. But if you’re wanting something even more exclusive, you can book a table for up to eight people in a completely separate and private space, in the Queen Victoria Room.

4. Morimoto Asia

Morimoto Asia isn’t as high-end as Victoria and Albert’s, but it does have a little something special up its sleeve. “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto opened the glitzy restaurant in 2015. Located in Disney Springs, it specializes in Pan-Asian cuisine. Their most exclusive dish is the Japanese A5 Wagyu beef. The beef has the highest rating for Wagyu and is imported from Japan. Each ounce costs $25, but there’s an order minimum of 3 ounces, so be prepared to pay about $75 at least. They also have a Toku-Jyo Sashimi Platter that runs for $100.

5. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Looking to spoil your little ones? Hop over to Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Here, one of the Fairy Godmother’s apprentices will transform your kiddo into a knight or one of their favorite princesses. The all-in package for knights costs $80, but for Disney princesses, a full transformation starts at $450. It includes a hair styling, makeover, manicure, gown, and tiara. You can get princess shoes but for an extra cost. These magic makeovers require a reservation and are only available for kids 3 to 12.

6. Golden Oak Residences

Four miles away from Magic Kingdom is the super-exclusive gated community called Golden Oak. Three-hundred homes, each with a little Disney flair, make up eight neighborhoods. But living so close to all the Disney magic doesn’t come cheap. Each one runs for about $2.3 million. All Golden Oak residents get access to a luxurious clubhouse complete with a pool, gym, and spa. Another perk: Markham’s Restaurant. You have to be a resident here to experience all their Disney-themed meals.

7. Club 33

A luxury Disney experience doesn’t stop in Florida. Over at Disneyland in California, Club 33 has been serving an exclusive group of fans since 1967. Located in New Orleans Square, the club’s existence was once secret, but now it’s pretty well known although few get to experience it. Reportedly, the initiation fee runs between $25,000 and $100,000. Members pay an additional annual fee from $12,500 to $30,000 depending on how exclusive their membership is. And for those willing to foot that bill, membership does come with a couple perks, like the swanky restaurant Le Grand Salon and the lounge attached to it, which is the only place that serves alcohol in Disneyland.

8. Lilly Belle Train

Anybody can ride the steam-powered train of Disneyland’s railroad, but you might not know that there’s a separate train that runs only occasionally. The Lilly Belle car is named after Walt Disney’s wife, Lillian, and apparently it’s the last remaining car from the opening day of the park back in 1955. It doesn’t run every day, but when it does, you can ride it for free, but you have to be one of the first 14 people in line, so get there bright and early. But for the rest of us late risers, the $85 Grand Circle Tour will get you a peek of the train as well.

9. Walt Disney’s Apartment

Back in 1954, as Disneyland was under construction, Walt Disney wanted a place where he could watch over his project. So he had this private 500-square-foot apartment built. The once secret space is located on the second floor of the Fire House on Main Street. It’s decorated by Disney’s original set designer and looks exactly like how Walt Disney left it. You can’t actually stay here, but for $109 per person, the Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps tour will get you a little closer to the man himself.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in April 2019.

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The creator of a $150 purse beloved by AOC and Oprah is revolutionizing “it bags” by making them accessible to everyone. Against all odds, it’s working.

Telfar

Tianni Graham, 27, remembers the “before times” – that is, the harrowing months before Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program.

It was early last summer and she, along with thousands of others, was stuck testing their luck each day trying to buy the wildly popular Telfar handbag whose celeb fans include Oprah, Selena Gomez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Solange. But they often sold out before anyone could click ‘check out.’

It turns out, robots and resellers were buying products in bulk, making it harder for real customers to purchase them. So, last summer, Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program, in hopes of giving customers better access to its bags by allowing patrons 24 hours to pre-order any bag on the site, with no limits on how many can be purchased. The bag is then made to order, and shipped directly to the customer.

Its first drop, which happened last August, brought in about $20 million – about 10x what Telfar made in all of 2019.

Suddenly, Graham, who is also a fashion archivist and consultant, had her green Telfar bag. It arrived right before Christmas and was a “present to myself,’ she told Insider, adding that other brands could benefit from implementing a similar program. “It would make things so much easier and make the customer feel like you care.”

The program’s success shows how a luxury brand can create accessibility without losing the allure of exclusivity. The old-school model for luxury brands states the product should be scarce and elite, but the next generation of high-end consumers and entrepreneurs are taking a different route.

Teflar is rewriting the rules of luxury, and this time, it’s not too hard for other brands to follow suit.

Telfar ‘white glove treatment’ is what next-gen luxury shoppers crave

Young consumers look less at price tags and more at brand values when determining where to spend their money; these next-gen consumers want sustainability, inclusivity, and a sense of community. The new “white glove treatment” when it comes to luxury shopping is a speedy online checkout from a brand that cares.

For Telfar’s latest drop this week, customers had the option to use the payment installment plan Klarna, making it even easier for those looking to obtain a bag. While customers will have to wait a few months before receiving the bag, people often spend years on a Birkin bag “waiting list” and most will probably never get one.

Shortly before Telfar’s program ended this week, a spokesperson for the brand told Insider it was, already, “going very well.”

Telfar started with an aim of inclusive luxury

Telfar was founded in 2005 by its eponymous founder Telfar Clemens and has dedicated the past two decades to building an inclusive business model.

In 2014, it released its now-iconic vegan leather handbag, which takes inspiration from a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag. The bags became widely available around 2018 after Telfar won $400,000 from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, allowing the company to expand production.

Clemens described his brand to The Cut as being “genderless, democratic, and transformative,” purposely seeking to challenge the notion that high fashion is only for a certain group of people, with the brand motto being “Not For You – For Everyone.”

Telfar

Now, Telfar bags come in three sizes, with prices ranging from $150 to $257. (For comparison, Birkin bags go for at least $12,000 while Black-owned luxury brands such as Brother Veilles go for at least $1,295.)

As reported by FT, handbag sales in the US declined 18% between 2016 and 2019. Yet, Telfar stood out – in 2016, the brand earned $102,000, growing to earn $2 million in 2019. Last year, New York Magazine deemed its bag the “Bushwick Birkin” and the brand was on pace to earn eight figures, even as the fashion industry was expected to take a 90% loss in profits due to the pandemic.

Boston Consulting Group’s Head of Luxury Sarah Willersdorf told Insider that Telfar has checked all the boxes on what it takes to connect with next-gen luxury shoppers. She said the brand has a narrative that “evokes emotion” and properly intertwines timelessness, creative partnerships, and culturally relevant authorities. GQ pointed out Telfar’s customer base was built, not through influencers, but through “customer aspiration alone.”

Telfar
Telfar Clemens.

Raising the bar for next-gen luxury

Brands like Telfar are important in proving accessible business models can be just as lucrative. Willersdorf expects other brands to follow similar strategies in a post-pandemic world, as shopping continues to pivot online.

In the old days – a pre-millennial world, perhaps – having too much of a product is thought to dilute its value. The Bag Security program defies that. But even the most tech-savvy luxury brand is often behind the curve, as Insider has previously reported.

“Luxury brands are always nervous,” Joseph Yakuel, CEO and founder of consulting firm Within, told Insider last year. “There’s so much risk to them tarnishing their brand reputation because luxury brand price points are only supported by their perception, and if their brand perception goes down market, their price point gets eroded very quickly.”

Clemens and his artistic director, Babak Radboy, said they aren’t worried about oversaturation. It’s about community, now. The new “white glove treatment” is making sure everybody gets a pair that fits perfectly.

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Swarovski crystal heiress Marina Rapahel explains how she achieved record-breaking sales by selling smaller handbags, donating to charity, and using snail mail to reach customers

Marina Raphael
Marina Raphael with her SS21 collection(1)

  • Marina Raphael, 22, launched her brand of luxe handbags in 2019.
  • Despite the pandemic, she said she saw an increase in sales in 2020.
  • To Insider, she reveals how she got her company through the past year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Insider first spoke to Marina Raphael in July 2020, she was in the midst of leading her luxury handbag brand of the same name through the pandemic.

A member of the famed Swarovski crystal family, Raphael launched her eponymous line the year before. It was being sold in high-end retailers such as Moda Operandi; it also captured the attention of Maxima, Queen of the Netherlands.

But now, the pandemic had disrupted in-person shopping, supply chains, and manufacturing. Halfway through the year, it was too soon to have confidence in what the rest of the year would bring.

“As a young entrepreneur, everything was just moving so quickly,” Raphael, 22, told Insider in a recent interview. “But a good entrepreneur has to adapt to any situation and find quick and flexible solutions.”

Now, a few months into 2021, she reflects on her company’s record growth. It turns out, luxury consumers never actually stopped splurging on high-priced goods during the pandemic. Wealthy patrons put their money into handbags, artwork, and fine jewelry – investment categories believed to be less volatile than the stock market.

Raphael, whose bags range from 500 to 1,500 euros ($600 to $1,800), said sales skyrocketed last year, though she declined to share exact revenue figures. The team re-vamped their social media strategy, added charity initiatives to purchases, and even reduced the physical size of its products by 50% to adjust to, what she described as, the new reality of customers’ needs: “carrying less.”

The brand launched collaborations and partnerships, including one with French skincare line Vichy, and expanded its own line to create cosmetic pouches and keychains.

It also released a sustainable collaboration, using upcycled leather and cruelty-free leathers with luxury retailer Luisaviaroma and another line with art director Evangelie Smyrniotaki, which sold out in its first two weeks. Next, the company is about to launch a line with Swarovski Creative Director Giovanna Battaglia. She’s projecting a 420% increase in sales this year.

The luxury brand stayed grounded through hard times by donating 20% of sales

Raphael’s company is headquartered in Greece, but its operations are spread throughout the world. Public relations for the brand is in London, while the sales agent is in New York; quality control is in Australia, and bag production is in Florence.

Marina Raphael with her SS21 collection(3)
Marina Raphael with her SS21 collection(3)

In March 2020, the brand received its spring-summer collection, which gave it stock until August. It combined that with leftovers from the previous collection, but still sold everything by June, she said.

Having a diversified supply chain helped, however. When factories in Italy closed, quality-control in Australia was able to pick up production. The team’s small size of 14 (six of whom joined during the pandemic) made it easy to communicate, despite the time differences. And because retailers were closed, the company didn’t have to worry about shipping out the fall-winter collection.

Another challenge for Raphael was communicating via WhatsApp and Zoom, especially since she had to design handbags without ever touching the fabrics or physically seeing the final product.

At the same time, the brand had to figure out how to sell a luxury product during an ongoing global health and financial crisis. The company couldn’t just stop selling or making the bags, Raphael said. “Then our suppliers would have a problem, our production team would have a problem,” she continued. “They would lose their jobs.”

Marina Raphael with her FW19 collection
Marina Raphael with her FW19 collection

To great success, the company decided to donate 20% of all sales to charities such as Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation and The Hellenic Pasteur Institute. Luxury retailer Moda Operandi implemented a similar strategy last year to huge success, reporting that if an item was attached to a charitable cause, shoppers were willing to spend full-price on it, even if another promotional sale was happening at the same time.

“I think that’s why we didn’t feel guilty about promoting the product, because with every sale we were helping in some way,” Raphael said.

To promote the collections, Raphael’s company began mailing puzzles and other “interactive fun stuff” to patrons. That was very successful too, she said.

“Getting something delivered to your house makes it feel more personal than at a fashion week where you are running to 15 different showrooms,” she said. “That was too much, too fast.”

In the early months, the team was in a state of panic

Raphael credits the success of this time to her team. In the early months of the pandemic, she recalled, everyone was in a state of panic. So she took it to herself to see how she could motivate her employees during this time, listening to their feedback in order to adopt new business strategies.

Smyrniotaki, the content creator and art director, told Insider that Raphael’s “strong personality” and keen leadership skills are what helped get their collaboration off the ground during this time, even with the disruptions. Her bag with Raphael was made with 5,000 Swarovski crystals to represent brighter days ahead. “It is the perfect allegory for the brighter future we see ahead,” Smyrniotaki continued.

Designing the Marina Raphael X Evangelie Smyrniotaki collaboration
Designing the Marina Raphael X Evangelie Smyrniotaki collaboration

Sometimes, Raphael still thinks about those early months of the pandemic. Customers from the United States, especially, were contacting the company in haste, trying to figure out how soon their products would arrive.

“Customers were saying, ‘we want our orders sooner – can you send us the tracking number?’ We have never experienced that before,” she said. “We were questioning, where are they going with the bags?”

Maybe it was to buy themselves gifts to make themselves feel better, she ponders; maybe they wanted to invest in nice things or were just bored at home. It’s more likely a mixture of all of the above, Insider previously reported.

That, or maybe people just really wanted another tote bag.

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The fanciest Mercedes sedan now starts at $185,000 – take a look inside the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

  • The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class is the latest generation of the company’s most luxurious sedan.
  • Mercedes announced Wednesday that it comes with a starting price of $184,900.
  • The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S 580 is built for the chauffeured and hits dealerships this summer.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For some, the $100,000-and-up Mercedes-Benz S-Class just isn’t luxurious enough. For them, there’s the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

It’s a lavish land yacht that will carry an eye-watering MSRP of $184,900 when it hit dealers this summer, the carmaker announced Wednesday.

Mercedes took the wraps off of the 2021 version of the sedan during an online event in November, revealing a revamped exterior design and a host of new, ultra-luxurious features inside the cabin. It stands to reason that, since Maybach owners don’t spend much time in the driver’s seat, most of the exciting interior upgrades can be found in the back seat.

And – with a wheelbase that’s several inches longer than the standard S-Class – there’s plenty of room back there for swanky features like massaging leg rests, a multicolored ambient-lighting setup, champagne flutes, and copious amounts of wood trim.

Although most of us will never know such luxury firsthand, you can take a virtual look at the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S 580 below:

The new-for-2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class sports a new design with an exclusive, imposing radiator grille.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

It comes in ten two-tone paint options, a signature Maybach feature.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

You can also tell it apart from a standard Mercedes offering by the Maybach lettering up front …

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

And by the illuminated Maybach emblem on the C-pillar.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S 580 has a wheelbase that’s seven inches longer than the standard model, and is larger all around than its predecessor.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

It’s powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 with a claimed 496 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, and it rides on cushy air suspension.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

However, you don’t spend deep six figures on a Maybach for its classy look or its performance, you do it for its palatial interior packed with optional and standard luxury features.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

The leather seats have more massaging capability than before, now offering up ten preset programs, two levels of intensity, and massaging calf rests.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

Naturally, the seats are climate-controlled as well, and they now include neck and shoulder heating functions.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

The “executive rear seat plus” package swaps the standard bench seat for two individual rear seats separated by a center console.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

Even the Maybach’s new rear airbags are fancy, deploying in a “gentle manner,” according to Mercedes.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

The electronic rear doors swing open at the push of a button and can be operated from the driver’s seat.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

The doors have flush-mounted handles that pop out when they’re needed.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

Buyers unsatisfied with the leather-to-wood balance in the cabin can now opt for wood trim on the front seat backs.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

They can also potentially outfit their vehicle with up to five screens, including a digital gauge cluster, a 12.8-inch center touchscreen, a rear tablet, and two rear-mounted displays.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

The entertainment system comes with two wireless headsets.

maybach tablet
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

Other options include a refrigerated cubby and a champagne flute set with spots on the armrest to hold them.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

The silver-plated flutes cost $830 each on Maybach’s website.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

Some other standard features include 64-color ambient lighting, a fragrance system, and powered window shades.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

For extra comfort, Mercedes outfitted the Maybach S-Class with an active noise-canceling system.

maybach speaker
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

Mercedes says the upgraded drive-mode selector now delivers smoother acceleration in “Chauffeur mode.”

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

Mercedes said the new model will arrive at US dealers in the middle of 2021.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

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