Swarovski recently partnered with selected designers from the GCC region to create the ‘Crystal loves Abaya’ collection. AMEinfo.com speaks with Flemming Nielsen, vice-president of sales for Swarovski Professional, Asia South.
How would you describe the performance of luxury goods in the Middle East region?
The luxury goods industry in the region is one that has shown consistent growth over the past few years and will continue to grow at a steady pace. It has been given a real boost, thanks to Dubai’s position as the new epicentre of luxury, attracting a multi-cultural clientele from emerging markets, such as India, Russia and even China.
According to a study by Bain & Company, the Middle East region is the tenth largest luxury goods market, thanks to intra-region tourism, local consumption, and historic and cultural relevance to luxury. Given these influences, the future of the sector is poised for continued growth and I believe the region offers large potential, which is yet to be tapped into.
How would you describe Swarovski’s performance in the region?
Swarovski delivers a diverse product portfolio of unmatched quality, craftsmanship and creativity. Founded in 1895 in Austria, Swarovski Crystal Business designs, manufactures and markets crystals, natural and created gemstones, finished products such as jewelry, accessories and lighting.
Now run by the fifth generation of family members, Swarovski has a global reach, with more than 2,350 stores in approximately 170 countries, 25,135 employees and revenues of €2.38 billion in 2012. Together with its sister companies Swarovski Optik (optical devices) and Tyrolit (abrasive); Swarovski Crystal Business forms the Swarovski Group. In 2013, the group generated revenues of €3.08bn and employed 30,600 people.
Having said that, Swarovski maintains a stable growth in the region and is looking to expand its market share in 2014. There is a high demand for our products, be it in the traditional wear segment, haute couture, interiors, lighting etc.
How would you describe the demand for Swarovski products in the region, in light of consumers’ high purchasing powers? What are the products that have a high sell through?
Consumers love the sense of luxury that they derive from our products. We had first entered the local market by introducing crystals on abayas. The design of this traditional garment has evolved over the years, making it a coveted and on-trend statement piece. From abayas suitable for daily activities to highly embellished versions that can be worn for evening events, crystals are constantly being reinterpreted and used in different ways to adorn this wardrobe staple.
What is the purpose of the Crystal Loves Abaya campaign?
For the Crystal Loves Abaya campaign, Swarovski collaborated with six designers across the GCC region to produce a collection of three to four abayas adorned with Swarovski crystals. Through this initiative, the brand is looking to inspire young design talents, while pushing their creative limits.
Upon entering the market, Swarovski was the pioneer in embellishing abayas by adding crystals on them. As the design of the abaya evolves, the brand is looking to collaborate with innovative designers that would experiment with our different varieties of crystal, while staying true to their design language.
What is the importance of launching similar campaigns in the region to support local talent?
Swarovski is renowned for supporting design talent internationally. That being said, the GCC region important to us, hence we aspire to work and support local, established and emerging talent in the region, and have them experiment and explore the multiple usage of crystal embellishment.
Who is the target audience for this campaign? What is the message that Swarovski is trying to convey?
The target audience for this campaign is our global design partners, GCC-based designers and abaya customers. We would like to communicate the leadership status of Swarovski within the abaya segment, which is being done by fostering local talent.
What are Swarovski’s future plans in the region?
Swarovski aims to maintain a steady growth in the region and Saudi Arabia is a key focus market us in 2014. We will also be increasing our presence and focus in Kuwait and Pakistan. We will be introducing a new range of forward integrated products and building on its relationships with key designers and emerging talents in the region.
Are you working on developing products that are specific to the region?
Yes, we are constantly developing exciting projects that cater to the region’s growing needs. Examples of this are the development of prayer beads or ’Massabeh’ that are made of our crystal, creating a special line of cufflinks for the dishdasha, and constantly developing our traditional wear segment. One of our most recent projects for the aforementioned segment was developing a special type of crystallised lace fabric that can be incorporated on the abaya.
What differentiates Swarovski?
Swarovski Elements is the premium brand for the finest crystals manufactured by Swarovski. It has been the designers’ choice since the founding of the company in 1895. It provides creative talents from the world of fashion, jewellery, accessories, interior design and lighting with the latest on-trend innovations. The wide range of crystal that is available offers designers a fabulous palette of inspiration and imparts refined glamour to everything that it embellishes.
Our most recent collaborations include Maison Martin Margiela, in which a special cut of crystal, titled Crystalactite, was developed for the designer’s Haute Couture Spring Summer 2013 collection. In addition, Swarovski crystals have been an important ingredient in Jean Paul Gaultier’s Haute Couture creations for decades. For his Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2013-14 Collection, the designer showcased his originality by using crystal mesh to mimic cat-like patterns seen in the wild.
What are the most important trends in the luxury market?
Crystal is not a trend, it is a design component that has to be incorporated and taken into consideration throughout the creative process. Crystal is timeless, however, it is important to note that our products are constantly evolving, as each season the trend department based in Wattens, Austria, creates new and innovative crystals that draw inspiration from key trends and themes inspired by global happenings. For Fall/Winter 2014, we have identified the growing need for design to which consumers can emotionally bond: a need for a more intimate relation between the product and its users.
Following seasons of standstill, as well as economic and political turmoil, we rolled into a season where we tried to escape through exuberance, joy and entertainment. Now we are entering an era of more mature design, in which well-conceived and minutely detailed concepts, such as nature and technology, emerge. In relation to this search for meaningful design, it is obvious that the path to innovation mainly leads through the past.
Monday, December 9- 2013 @ 12:51 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.