Louis Vuitton headed East to Hong Kong this week to show the brand’s inaugural men’s pre-fall 2024 collection. Drones captured models from all angles against the backdrop of the harbour, setting a nautical tone with influences of an urban sailor and surfer. This aesthetic translated into a uniform featuring softly tailored double-breasted jackets, some adorned with monogrammed logos and others with fine stripes. The collection included Hawaiian short sets, surfer prints, and distinctively stylised sideways sailor hats. References to beach culture were evident in neoprene, sandals, and beach jewelry—bracelets and necklaces reminiscent of tropical holidays, retaining memories but losing their allure back home.
Under the creative direction of Pharrell Williams, Louis Vuitton has redefined its target customer, appealing to an ever-younger generation and departing from its previous emphasis on a sophisticated travel spirit. While Williams is still finding his footing, the collection demonstrated cohesion, even with the abundance of prints and colours appearing somewhat messy.
Observing the queues outside Louis Vuitton boutiques reveals where LVMH is directing its growth—toward the commodification of luxury through the sale of overpriced trinkets. Despite luxury being often associated with price and scarcity, the charm of quiet and understated products tailored for discerning High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) is conspicuously absent. Following the debut of a million-dollar bag by Williams in Paris last summer, the brand's trajectory seems to favour the sale of non-essential items.
As the world's most valuable fashion group, surpassing a market value of 500 billion dollars this year and becoming the first European entity to achieve this milestone, LVMH maintains a significant lead in market capitalization over the rest of the industry. However, economic and political uncertainties pose challenges for LVMH, as they will for the industry at large in 2024, according to data from McKinsey's State of Fashion report. With consumers becoming increasingly price-sensitive, the luxury industry anticipates another year of flux. Aspirational shoppers, particularly those inclined toward logos and trends, may curtail their spending or allocate funds toward investment pieces—luxury items expected to retain their value over time. In this context, a Louis Vuitton Hawaiian-printed shirt may lose some of its appeal in the future.