Gucci. Burberry. Prada. Giorgio Armani. Ralph Lauren. What do they have in common? They’re all in the food business. Wait…. what? Yes, in addition to being iconic fashion brands, each is also a part of a successful restaurant concept. And as more and more retailers are introducing restaurants, each feels the need to keep up with their competitors.
Fashion and food have lived same world, but previously in parallel universes. They’re cut from the same DNA, with an eye for craftsmanship, innovation and authenticity. As dining out reaches higher standards, the union makes perfect sense. Take the rise of quality meals at designer stores like Armani Ristorante and Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar which has made both a tough reservation more than a year after launch.
Beyond tastemaker appeal, there are a few other forces fueling this trend. Consumers want an “experience,” something memorable and engaging. When retailers add experiential components like a luxurious lunch complete with a celeb spotting at Fred’s in Barneys, it increases store “dwell time.” There’s also the obvious convenience factor. When you give hungry shoppers a full dining experience right at their fingertips, the choice of where to eat is an easy one. It only makes sense that this coupled with a memorable meal, will lead to more sales. Even though revenue from restaurant operations usually pale in comparison to a store’s fashion sales, the overall experience builds customer loyalty.
One might ask: if food revenue is a fraction of overall sales, why would retailers take on the headache of running a restaurant? Bottom line – good food is a big trend. Dining out continues to report strong growth with sales going from $395 billion in 2009 to $482 billion in 2014, according to Mintel. What’s more, Bloomberg News cited in April 2015 that Americans spent more on dining out than groceries for the first time ever (source).
When you mix hunger for interesting experiences, big spends on dining out, and proof of concept, expect to see more fashion designers’ names on the top of your menu.
Editor’s note: don’t miss the cheeseburger at the Polo Bar or the chopped salad at Fred’s. Both worth the trip even if shopping isn’t on the menu.