Living The High Life In Your Pocket: A Look Into Luxury Brands and Their iPhone Applications

Van Cleef
The iPhone app “gold rush” has been full throttle since the inception of the App Store 18 months ago.

Yet there seems to be one sector that has quietly been making waves: luxury brands.  Brands like Dolce and Gabbana, David Yurman and Chanel are early adopters of iPhone marketing, and, by extending their premier experiences to the “digital public,” are dispelling the notion that a luxe experience should only be available to a select few.

Historically, the high-end fashion industry has always recognized the glamour of the mobile device and had an interesting collaborative relationship with phone manufacturers.  The result to date has been limited edition, high-end handsets from the likes of Prada, Tag Heuer, and Armani.  But as the world has shifted to a highly-segmented sea of information; luxury brands have expanded their digital thinking beyond product strategy to become more digitally-minded with communications strategy as well. The iPhone gives luxury brands a platform that satisfies aesthetic and presentation needs while providing maximum potential for user interaction. In some cases, the new platform can even provide new revenue streams.

In the last few weeks, several new and interesting iPhone applications from Gucci, Jaeger-Lecoultre, and Van Cleef & Arpels have arrived in the App Store and will undoubtedly find a place in the pockets of thousands of fashion enthusiasts- and Canal Street-frequenters.

gucci app
  • Gucci’s iPhone application was released to support the launch of the Gucci Icon pop-up shop (conveniently located a few blocks from our SoHo office, by the way).  Supported by banner ads to drive awareness, it has been subject to plenty of attention on the blogosphere. The app allows users to browse footwear exclusive to the pop-up store, listen to music curated by application users (unfortunately, Gucci Mane has been left off the playlist), and most interestingly, compose their own beats with musical components provided by über-DJ Mark Ronson, who has collaborated with Gucci for a limited-edition shoe.
  • jaeger-lecoultre
  • Jaeger-Lecoultre brings the craft of watch making to life with their application. Not only can users view the collection, they’ll also have the option of six tutorials to fully engage with; you can learn techniques like assembling a chronograph mechanism, decorating and jewelling a movement, engraving, and gem-setting the case. The brand has further incentivized the app with a sweepstakes that users who perform well are automatically entered into, where the winners are flown to Switzerland to the Jaeger manufacturing factory.
  • Ahhh, Paris! Van Cleef & Arpels’s “A Day In A Paris,” users are taken on a “poetic tour of Paris” via an interactive map.  Throughout their journey, the brand has provided elegant poetry to enhance the experience and set the mood. Users can also view a stylish presentation of their latest collection, as well as vignettes of Parisian poetic ballads (The app takes up a hefty 10+ MB of space, and only downloads via WiFi connection, but is well worth the space.

While iPhone and robust mobile marketing is still in its infancy, it’s safe to say that luxury brands are looking to push their brands in new directions by creating relevant new methods of brand interaction that go beyond a static product presentation, mobile commerce quick-fix, or mundane advergame that distorts the brand message. Recent industry rumblings suggest that heavyweights Salvatore Ferragamo and Giorgio Armani are developing their own applications to be released soon.  With this level of attention being given to the platform, exciting-and creative-days are ahead.

For another comprehensive overview of luxury brands in the iPhone space, check out the SlideShare presentation below, courtesy of David Sadigh: