Last night in Los Angeles, the usual FNO frenzy ensued as stores big and small vied for consumers’ attention all over West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, using all manner of hype. But a dark undercurrent of doubt was heavy in the air at several events, as retailers struggled to convince cash-strapped potential buyers to do more than drink free wine and to actually purchase pricey designer duds. But things are different for the super rich, and so was the scene at Beverly Hills’ Porsche Design retail location just off of Rodeo Drive.
Porsche CEO Juergen Gessler (pictured) even flew in from Germany for the occasion, and he was bullish on his brand (the car company owns a small percentage of Porsche Design) despite still generally gloomy economic conditions for the retail sector in America.
“We’re doing well,” he said as guests drank wine and surveyed the selection of sunglasses, luggage, and jeans at the small store. Guests were invited to check out the orange Porsche Design “P’1820 Scarf,” which was limited to 200 pieces around the world.
The German company’s only L.A.-adjacent location (an Orange County outpost also exists) is somewhat insulated from the recession in that their Beverly Hills store caters to wealthy locals and European tourists who frequent the area. Putting retail outlets in the heart of the world’s top shopping destinations is a strategy that seems to be working out for the burgeoning brand, with high profit margins (some of their sunglasses go for around $400 and jeans sell in the $400 to $600 range). A new Soho location is set to open up on West Broadway this fall, proving to be just the latest example of PD’s ascendant spirit, with stores ringing in profits everywhere from Dubai to Shanghai. There are almost 30 Porsche Design Stores in China alone, one of the biggest markets for the luxury brand.
In North America, Porsche Design is still growing. “We have Miami, Boston, San Francisco and more but we are excited about other cities such as Chicago,” said Gessler. “We had 7 stores in 2004. Now we have over 100.”
So what’s the secret of the design group’s success?
“What’s happening in the market is that you have to show you personality by wearing something with status,” he said. According to the CEO, in a recession, status is everything. “We’re driven by the customer.”
Luckily for Gessler, it seems his typical customer has money to burn…or at least they want to convey as much in 2011.
Porsche Design hosts another FNO-related event at their Dusseldorf location tonight and then Saturday in New Delhi.