HONG KONG — Millennials are growing tired of the luxury of yore and just want to “be real” — that was the message Fendi and Coach sent out this week in Hong Kong as the two fashion houses hosted parties targeted at a younger generation.
On Thursday, Fendi took out the basement of Cosco Tower in Sheung Wan, lighting the space up in a rainbow of neon lights. There was no Champagne here, just strong vodka mixers as a “no-holds-barred” attitude permeated the party. It was the second stop after New York for the “F Is for Fendi” initiative — the dedicated online platform for Millennials the Italian house launched in February — and the event saw a cast of pan-Asian cool kids come out to party: Korean pop star Taeyang, rapper Okasian, music producer Choice 37, Shanghai-based DJ Victor Aime and Japanese designer Alisa Ueno.
The idea of authenticity came up several times in conversation during the night.
“What we try to tell our artists is don’t worry about what other people think or what you think is popular,” Choice 37 said. “Try to find who you are and your identity first.”
Ueno was candid about a slight outfit snafu earlier. “I don’t know if I should say it but I actually had two dresses and it was too small for me. I couldn’t fit it, so I got this one,” she giggled, pointing to her Fendi skirt.
The Millennial consumer has been a key focus for Fendi of late. The brand’s communications director Cristiana Monfardini, who spearheaded the concept working with a team solely composed of Millennials, said the age of the Fendi customer has dropped significantly in the last few years.
“A mother and daughter will probably love the same thing,” she said, “but they will express or find relevance in a different kind of language.”
Last month Fendi approached Taeyang to collaborate on the “Youngbae” capsule. While the collection name was thematically on point, it also conveniently came from the Big Bang member’s real name, which is Dong Youngbae.
Sixty percent of the world’s Millennials live in Asia-Pacific, Accenture research showed. They are also some of the keenest shoppers. Around a third of Asian Millennials view shopping as a leisure activity, and nearly a quarter said they shop as a way to spend time with loved ones, according to CBRE.
The Fendi parties are set to be a recurring event. “Ideally, we want to celebrate, one [party] in the East and one in the West [a year],” Monfardini said.
Next year, the company is planning to head to China proper and is readying a WeChat channel for “F Is for Fendi,” in addition to the Fendi brand WeChat account it already operates.
Two days earlier, Coach went for a different kind of underground, throwing a subway-themed cocktail party in conjunction with Lane Crawford at IFC.
Laurinda Ho, one of the many daughters of gambling tycoon Stanley Ho; singer-actor Juno Mak, and model Irisa Wong were among the guests who mingled with Coach creative director Stuart Vevers. Partygoers piled into the train carriages, making for a rather hot and crowded environment, not unlike the real thing.
Admittedly, a subway ride isn’t the typical luxury experience, but Vevers said they were “not about a fantasy jet-set lifestyle. I find that refreshing in the world of luxury.”
He added: “It was important to look to the future and what the next generation is about. It’s drawn from youth culture and counterculture. The crowd definitely represented that. It was a cool crowd, so that made me very happy.”
While the brand, which tapped 25-year-old Selena Gomez as its ambassador earlier this year, has a boutique just two floors down in the mall, the Coach pop-up at Lane Crawford was also positioned to appeal to a more fashion-focused customer and not rely on its heritage in leather goods.
“It was a way to be able to reach different people,” Vevers said. “A lot of people I spoke to were discovering [Coach] ready-to-wear for the first time and had a really strong response to it.”
Asia provides a relatively fresh slate, Vevers said. Coach is less encumbered there by its history and associations with an older customer, which “has a certain appeal.”