Birkenstock, Ancient Greek Sandals, Nodelato and Maria Luca are expanding their core offering and diversifying into natural skincare, home and jewelry.
While brands have been expanding into lifestyle for some time, the pandemic has increased demand for certain lifestyle categories outside of traditional fashion.
“When we spend a lot of time at home, we have different needs,” said Robin Meason, founder of Paris based communications agency Ritual Projects. “Trends come out of whatever is going on in the world to help us adapt. There’s a direct correlation between the health crisis and a need to feel safe and to take care of yourself.”
In fact, she’s been advising her own fashion clients to tap into the interiors market. “Brands can make cushions and throws by upcycling excess materials they already have,” Meason noted.
According to market research firm NPD, while prestige beauty sales fell 14% during the pandemic, those of skincare, especially within the natural and organic beauty segment have risen 11% — exactly where Birkenstock is betting big.
The brand launched a natural skincare line in 2019, and has just released a new range of three serums — Triple Hyaluronic Acid Complex, Vitamin C and Anti-Stress with antioxidant turmeric oil — together with a Calming Face Oil. All feature hero ingredient, cork oak extract, the exact same raw material found in the label’s footwear, and all contain 99.9% – 100% products of natural origin.
Likewise, after a quarter of the world’s population spent ten weeks or more in confinement, it comes as no surprise that home sales too are on the increase. In fact, Matches Fashion, which launched the category two years ago, has seen an 160% rise on last year.
Julia Toledano, the co-founder and designer of Nodaleto, has teamed up with artist Anissa Kermiche who is known for her quirky ceramics and fine jewelry. The collaboration features whimsical vases in the shape of the brand’s classic Corta boots, the very first shoe that Toledano designed. “We’re always asking, ‘What’s next?’” co-founder Olivier Leone said. “We think these are a great extension of our DNA.”
With anklets trending for summer, thanks in part to Bottega Veneta’s spring ’20 update on its sellout mesh pumps, jewelry is a no-brainer as it’s an easy way to reinvent any look and boost your spirits while working from home.
Enter Maria Luca. Charlene de Luca’s new shoe label launching for fall ’20, is diversifying from the start. One of the brand’s distinctive features is the anklet on the left foot. “You can also take it off and wear it as a necklace,” says the designer. The line is cleverly complemented by a capsule collection of gold jewelry as well as three chic and functional bag styles, complete with olive interiors.
Ancient Greek Sandals recently teamed up with chic Italian boutique hotel Le Sirenuse Positano for its second capsule collaboration of sandals. This time, however, AGS co-founder Christina Martini has also joined forces with Carla Sersale, wife of the hotel owner who runs her own resort focused ready-to-wear label via the hotel boutique.
She’s selling a curated edit of embroidered kaftans and separates from the Le Sirenuse Positano Spring ’20 collection, (from which the shoes drew inspiration), in her brand’s Athens flagship which opened for business again last month. “The pandemic has made us think more about everything and speeded up processes that were already there,” said AGS global sales director Yiannis Vagenas. With many European countries reopening their borders this month, both will surely come into their own.
Meason said her own consultancy has been moving organically into lifestyle since fall ’19 when she added cult natural fragrance brand Le Labo into her previously streetwear-centric client portfolio. More recent signings are energy healer John James of Honour Thy Lovers and Bangkok-based Philip Huang, which uses plant based dyes and supports local artisans.
“I was just following my instincts on how to survive during the confinement,” she said. “I wanted to give exposure to diverse entities who can help you to be well on a day-to-day basis both inside and out because we need this now more than ever.”
Throughout quarantine, she’s been working with James to achieve balance in her own life and when she reopened her Paris office last month she called on the alternative practitioner to conduct a ceremony to cleanse that space too.
The one-and-a-half hour process involved Palo Santo incense, candles and a rattle to wake up the energy. “At one point there was so much smoke, I could barely see my computer,” she laughed. “But honestly, my team really noticed a difference when they arrived for work the next day.”