Navigating the future of luxury fashion in the Middle East

January 5, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau

In 2024, regional luxury retailer Etoile Group will be focused on growth and expansion into key markets in the Middle East underpinned by an ongoing commitment to digitalisation and sustainable practices.

“We aim to open new boutiques, invest in e-commerce platforms and collaborate extensively with both local and global designers,” shared Ingie Chalhoub, Founder and President, Etoile Group – which houses over 50 high-end brands within the multi-brand stores, while Etoile La Boutique represents various luxury houses such as Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Tod’s, Aquazzura, Etro, Valentino, Hogan and Yamamay in the region.

In a Q&A with IMAGES RetailME, Chalhoub shared some key thoughts on the shifts taking place in the regional luxury industry.

How is digital transformation shaping the luxury retail experience in the Middle East?

Digital transformation continues to reshape luxury retail both in the region and worldwide with investment in both digital and physical environments allowing customers to make purchases and experience products in ways that suit their lifestyles. On our part, to ensure relevancy with the digital-savvy consumer in the region, we will expand our omnichannel presence in 2024 and continue to innovate the e-commerce experience for Etoile La Boutique to increase interaction and engagement with its clients. 

How is experiential retail enhancing the luxury buying experience?

The Middle East’s luxury market, known for its affinity with exclusivity and luxury experiences, is witnessing a rise in experiential retail. According to research, with 49% of shoppers agreeing that stores should be a place where they offer more than just products for sale, this approach allows luxury brands to offer unique and memorable shopping experiences, adding value beyond the product itself. For example, in November 2023, Tod’s introduced ‘Tod’s Passport’, exclusive to their Custom Di Bag range worldwide. Each custom Tod’s My Di bag now comes with a unique NFC chip embedded under the ‘Tod’s Logo’ linked to its own Blockchain identity. Activated by smartphone, this innovative solution adds an extra layer of authenticity and transparency with access to product certificates, origin, craftsmanship and journey from creation to purchase.

What role does personalisation play in the evolving luxury retail industry and how does it fit into Etoile Group’s strategy?

Personalisation is revolutionising customer interactions in the luxury fashion and retail sector. Data is becoming increasingly paramount with brands adopting data-driven strategies to cater to individual preferences, enhancing the overall luxury experience. In luxury fashion, it’s also about crafting unique or exclusive pieces. Once again, I’ll cite the example of Tod’s that has introduced a “customise your own” Di Bag and Gomino shoes where the customer can choose the colours and details of their pieces. Many of our designers also pay special homage to important times of the year such as Ramadan with exclusive one-off pieces and collections created only for the region.  

Finally, do tell us how Etoile Group plans to operate in a manner that’s good for people and the planet.

Sustainability lies at the core of our business. Globally, the fashion industry has pivoted towards a more sustainable approach and that has translated to the Middle East retail environment as well. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental and ethical implications of their fashion choices, especially the younger Gen Z cohort – who are particularly eco-conscious and expected to make up a third of the luxury market through 2030, alongside Gen Alpha. What we’re seeing now and what will be a big focus for 2024 is working towards being more responsible and conscious in the ways of doing business. For example, Chanel has set science-based targets to shift to 100% renewable electricity in its own operations by 2025, reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 and decrease emissions from its value chain by 40% by the same year. At Etoile Group, we will also continue to prioritise procurement from partners and suppliers that are compliant with the rules of the Fashion Pact, a global initiative that was launched in 2019 and is aimed at reducing the fashion industry’s environment impact. A sustainable future is also about educating the next generation and we will be nurturing emerging designers with a new partnership with Dubai’s Fashion and Design Institute (FAD) starting in 2024.

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