Why an Area Rug is the New Vans Half Cab
Bored with streetwear, hypebeasts are turning to furniture
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The Louis Vuitton furniture section of the site is tastefully named the “art of living.” Art is the apt name since most pieces cost upward of $100K and resemble works of art that can be sat on.
In a slightly edgier scenario, Rick Owens launched a pop-up store at the Berlin cult store Andreas Murkudis in 2019 that combined his ready-to-wear and his furniture designs exclusive to Germany. Inspired by his partner Michèle Lamy (like most of his creations), Rick Owens furniture line comes across as a natural extension of the same aesthetic world that his apparel inhabits. GUCCI’s chairs and couches in their Wooster Street store are on offer along with the sunglasses, and a few years back Supreme adorned legendary Aalto’s Tank chair with “FCK.” Not to be outdone, Stamptd partnered around the same time with IKEA on organizational storage and furniture named SPÄNST that also includes hoodies, shirts, hats and basketball hoop sets.
The expansion of fashion and streetwear into furniture has years in the making. Experience economy propelled brands to create the all-encompassing aesthetic universes to put forward regardless of the category. A brand’s aesthetic world is its main product. Venerable fashion houses buy hotels, open restaurants, hold art exhibitions, brand their regions of origins and turn fashion shows into dance performances. With a push towards experiential, the same concept can exist as a meme, a bag, a sneaker or a piece of furniture.
Having a brand galaxy is a legitimate growth strategy, taken from Ralph Lauren’s playbook: invest in the atmosphere, the setting, the environment and sell everything in there (Ralph Lauren’s own furniture is sold in his flagships). It’s the approach to the global market growth through brand expansion, where an umbrella brand becomes a player in an increasing number of verticals.
In increasing its market footprint, a brand also amplifies its role in culture by creating a link between a brand’s symbolic value and its numerous products. Supreme, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Stamptd innovate by linking their ethos with their products. They create cult objects - Aalto’s Tank chair, a crocheted pillow, a skate rink - that serve as totems in their taste communities. They are culturally innovative because they combine the aesthetic experience, identity building and social display. A person doesn’t buy GUCCI shoes or a GUCCI pillow. They live a GUCCI life.