Feeding the fashionistas: Gucci turns to fine dining

Feeding the fashionistas: Gucci turns to fine dining
PHOTO: Instagram/Gucci

You can now have Gucci pasta as you shop for your luxury brand-name bag.

The Italian fashion house opened a 50-seat restaurant, Gucci Osteria, in Florence on Jan 9 where three-Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura will serve up high-end dishes.

From haute couture to haute cuisine. The Gucci restaurant is sited behind the walls of the 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia building, overlooking the city's most famous square, Piazza della Signoria.

Visitors can treat themselves to the likes of Parmigiano Reggiano tortellini, Peruvian-inspired tostadas, pork belly buns and mushroom risotto for €20 to €30 a dish.

The Italian fashion house, owned by Kering, is not the only luxury company to make a foray into food.

LVMH announced late last year it would open a second branch of its gourmet grocer La Grande Epicerie in Paris, days before Tiffany's & Co opened its Blue Box Cafe in New York.

"The big brands are following where their high-spending clients' cash is going," said Professor Fabrizio Pini, who is also joint director of the International Master in Luxury Management of Milan's MIP Politecnico business school.

Gucci and its rivals do not expect these investments to yield significant financial returns, for now, but they are seen as a way of enhancing their global brands. In some cases, eateries can also be a way to make the most out of large, city-centre store sites as customers increasingly shop online.

Few strategies come without an element of risk, however.

Bernstein analyst Mario Ortelli said that if luxury companies did not provide a gastronomic experience that matched their other goods, it could dilute their brands. "The experience has to be luxurious and recognisable," he said.

While labels are looking to these investments for marketing rather than profits, a presence in food could offer some financial returns in the long run.

With a global luxury market estimated to be worth €1.2 trillion in 2017, sales of luxury wines and spirits and food, together worth just under €120 billion, last year grew by 6 per cent, more than personal luxury goods such as bags, shoes and clothing, according to Bain & Co's yearly report on the sector.

"Food is luxury as much as fashion," said Mr Stefano Cantino, strategic marketing director at Prada, which owns exclusive Milan patisserie Marchesi. "Barriers have been broken."

The Gucci Osteria restaurant is part of "Gucci Garden", which includes an exhibition area, a bazaar-like boutique and a cinema room.

"Haute couture and haute cuisine are a recipe made in heaven," Bottura told reporters.

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