LABELS ARE HAVING DESIGNS ON PROPERTY

16.01.17

Visitors to the recently completed Milano Residences in the Philippines will be greeted by its slick facade, before coming face to face with the lobby’s main draw – a Versace Home bubble sofa. Next to the statement piece is a sunburst coffee table with a crystal top, also Versace. All at once, touches of the Italian fashion mainstay unravel, in the black leather of dining chairs, steel chrome tables, and even the estate’s porcelain and silver tableware.

The $68 million, 340-unit Century Properties development is the brand’s first residential foray into Asia where designer brand properties have started to take flight, fuelled by demand from locals and expatriates alike.

Residents who opt to have their units in Manila designed by Versace Home are given exclusive access to the brand’s fine home collection, encompassing essentials from furniture to linens and pillows.

“The Versace world is not just expressed in fashion, but in the full spectrum of art and creativity,” said chief executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris, during an interview given shortly after the property’s launch. “From our love of beauty come tailor-made interior design services and home furnishings that tell of a genuine lifestyle – one that truly shows what ‘Made in Italy’ is all about.”

Ferraris added: “Milano residents will enjoy substantial value and will be proud of owning both an incredible investment and a symbol of a lifestyle never before seen in Manila.” By the start of 2015, the developer had sold 95% of 3,000 units across six projects slated for completion last year, including the Versace branded Milano Residences.

“Experiential luxury is growing faster than personal goods luxury and homes are a good bridge between the two worlds,” explained Mario Ortelli, senior research analyst at luxury asset management firm Sanford C Bernstein. “Designer homes are products you can live in.”

A growing demand for design brand residences in Asia suggests that buyers see property linked to fashion labels as stable, or at least, as stable as those linked with hotel chains and celebrity designers, translating into more gains across the board.

Labels also get an extra avenue to market their products, ranging from cosmetics to spa necessities and fragrances. It is no wonder more names are jumping on the Asian property bandwagon.

In June 2015, the Giorgio Armani Group signed a partnership agreement with Chinese real estate company Smart Hero Group for a residential project in Beijing.

Armani Casa will design the common areas, amenities and a few luxury apartments in a development targeted at integrating a modern aesthetic with the traditional concept of harmony between man and nature. It is expected to open by the end of 2017.

“The branded property sector is on an upward push,” said property developer John Hitchcox, who has worked with Philippe Stark, Kate Moss and Jade Jagger.

“I expect rivals will want to outdo Versace with even bigger and more flamboyant plans for homes,” Hitchcox added.

John Hooks, former deputy chairman of Giorgio Armani and group president of Ralph Lauren Europe, who is now CEO of the fashion holding company Pacific Global Management concurs. “We use modern, often Apple-designed products. We work in modern offices in modern buildings. We go on holiday in modern boutique hotels,” Hooks says. “Small wonder many consumers want modern at home, too. It’s what they know and are comfortable with, and homes are all about comfort,” he adds.

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