GOING PLACES: Luxup, an invitation-only club and editorial Web site targeted at international travelers, is set to launch this summer with the aim to offer the traveling luxury consumer insider fashion and retail experiences. The firm’s founders and joint chief executives, James Corsellis and Mark Watts, have tapped a host of fashion industry veterans to head the team.
They include Averyl Oates, the former fashion and merchandise director at Harvey Nichols, who will serve as commercial director; Harriet Quick, the former fashion features director of U.K. Vogue, who is editorial director; and Anita Borzyszkowska, former vice president of global public relations and special projects at Gap, who is communications director. Photographer Phil Poynter will serve as creative director, while journalist Sarah Mower will act in an advisory role as London fashion curator for the site. They will work together with local contributors to the sites in different markets. Phil Ley has been named global marketing director, while Andy Brown will serve as U.K. marketing director.
Luxup will initially target Chinese travelers visiting London when it launches in early summer, with an English and Chinese language site, in both simplified and traditional Chinese. The firm will work with partners, such as airlines and private banks, to invite travelers to join the site and will then introduce customers to brands in London, with events and experiences tailored to those customers. Those events could include fashion shows, trunk shows or meeting a designer through to access to pre-collections and limited edition products, Corsellis said.
“It’s providing retailers with a very targeted way of communicating with their customer base, using a combination of the site and iPhone and iPad apps to [draw] them to come and shop in store,” said Corsellis. “What we’ll be able to do is understand that customer across the various countries in which they travel, understand what brands that customer shops and what they buy when they shop, and therefore work with both customers and brands to customize what we offer to each of them.”
Corsellis, who also runs Marwyn Investment Management, a London-based investment firm that is financing Luxup, said that he was prompted to launch the firm after witnessing the number of traveling luxury consumers “grow exponentially,” he said. Corsellis also noted that through his work with luxury brands, such companies wanted to specifically target traveling consumers to drive traffic into their stores.
As part of its research, Luxup has also interviewed more than 4,000 traveling consumers, and found that such consumers “are hoping to engage on quite a fundamental level with brands,” Corsellis said. He noted that 32 percent of the traveling Chinese consumers that the company interviewed contribute to fashion blogs, and that of the Chinese, Russian and Brazilian consumers that the firm interviewed, 40 percent were reading fashion blogs “at least a few times a week.”
“Many [traveling consumers] feel that they fall between the gaps,” said Corsellis. “They feel that they’re marketed to domestically, but when they travel they’re looking for authenticity, a broader range and experiences. Across the board the customer base felt they weren’t receiving that — when [they] travelled abroad [they] were just another tourist. That’s something that we’re hoping to fix.”
Corsellis declined to name the brands the company will partner with, but said they would be “very well known,” with different brands targeted to different customer groups. Mower will in addition advise on emerging London labels to introduce to consumers.
After launching to Chinese customers traveling to London, Luxup will launch to Chinese customers visiting the U.S. and Hong Kong in the fall. A Portuguese language site will launch by the end of 2012, followed by Russian and Arabic language sites during 2013, with the eventual plan to be in ten countries in the next three years.
The site will operate on a revenue share model with the brands that Luxup partners with, based on the amount that the customers that Luxup invites into stores spend in those stores. “For retailers the attraction is that this is a performance related vehicle for them, through which they can drive foot-fall into store,” said Corsellis. “Our clear objective is to bring [brands] the right type of customer, and one that shops in store.”