Time For Rehab — Luxury Repairs Are On The Rise

Some brands are dedicated to giving their products a new lease of life.

By Kareem Rashed 05/10/2021

Here’s the scene: you’ve invested in a double-faced cashmere topcoat from Brunello Cucinelli, an exemplar of sartorial finesse that cost you some $13,000. Basking in its glory as you head into the office, you’re bounding through the lobby when tragedy strikes by way of your flat white cascading down the coat’s front. You dab away, but the damage has been done.

What is there to do? You can try your luck with a trip to the dry cleaner, though there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to erase the notoriously stubborn stains. And with cashmere this fine, a chemical bath might do more harm than good. It can hang in shame at the back of your closet or woefully be given up for donation. Or it can be sent to the Brunello Cucinelli centre for fashion resuscitation.

Cucinelli is just one of a growing number of brands committed to ensuring the longevity of their products, come coffee, moths or years of wear and tear. While producing pieces of the highest quality—implicitly built to withstand the weathering of time—is a given with any luxury purveyor, some are doubling down on that assurance and putting their seamstresses where their mouths are. Having assembled teams dedicated to restoring past-their-prime wares, these brands are encouraging customers to send in their wizened duds rather than simply replace them, demonstrating not only resounding confidence in their products but also a dedication to sustainability that is becoming increasingly relevant.

“Beyond a practical choice, it is also an ethical one,” says Cucinelli, who has made repairs a feature of his company since the very beginning. “I come from a culture of farmers, and growing up, we had a truly humble life. We couldn’t simply throw things out. This stayed with me.” After launching with cashmere knits in 1978, Cucinelli established a riparazioni department to accommodate customers whose sweaters had fallen prey to moths, a fairly common issue that requires intricate re-weaving beyond the abilities of the average local seamstress.

The service grew alongside his product offerings and is now a stand-alone building at his Italian headquarters, handling everything from weaving and knitting to re-lining blazers and re-soling shoes. Perhaps most remarkably—and unique to Cucinelli—all of these services are performed at no cost to the customer.

“We like to think that this is a sort of lifetime guarantee for our clients,” Cucinelli says. While the service has been available for decades, he says the past few years have seen notable growth. In 2019, the company estimates it performed 5,000 repairs for its global clientele.

For Cucinelli, it’s more than just a thoughtful customer service; it’s a reflection of his brand’s ethos. “Italian design focuses on a timeless trait that makes you want to wear your pieces year after year,” he says. “Sustainability can be achieved in several ways, but I think timeless design is essential to this goal.”

According to a McKinsey report, The State of Fashion 2019, the average person buys 60 percent more clothing than they did 15 years ago—but keeps that clothing for half as long as they used to. Much of the conversation around sustainable fashion has focused on eco-friendly materials, but luxury brands, in particular, are broadening the scope.

No amount of organic seersucker or plastic bottles reborn as parkas can change the fact that 73 percent of the world’s clothing materials wind up in landfills or in flames (85 percent in the
US). Fashion’s sustainability problem isn’t what it’s making; it’s widespread overproduction, teamed with consumers’ perception of clothing as disposable.

That’s one reason that Kering recently expanded the parameters of its Environmental Profit & Loss measure for its brands, which include such powerhouses as Gucci and Bottega Veneta. The luxury conglomerate is using data from an extensive consumer survey to calculate the environmental impact and financial implications of how shoppers care for and eventually discard products. Many brands have examined their choices during the production process—water and carbon used, toxins generated—but a look at the life of a product after its sale paints a more accurate picture of a company’s environmental footprint.

While we may not be facing the austerity that inspired England’s World War II campaign to “Make Do and Mend”, current events—from the pandemic to global warming—have made conscientious consumption a priority for a wide swathe of shoppers. Luxury brands that give their time-worn products a new lease of life are meeting the moment on two fronts: lightening their toll on the environment and providing products designed to retain their appeal over time.

The latter tenet is central to Hermès. Like Cucinelli, it eschews fashion trends in favour of haute craftsmanship and enduring design. When asked the company’s single most defining trait, Robert Dumas, the brand’s former CEO and artistic director, once advised an heir: “Hermès is different because we are making a product that we can repair.” The company’s collection includes more than 50,000 products—from luggage and teacups to suits and silk scarves—so rehabilitating everything that is sold in a little, or large, orange box is a considerable undertaking.

Hermès employs a team of 78 repair specialists at 14 ateliers throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. Last year, they received close to 100,000 requests, and the demand is so great
that Hermès is opening an additional workshop. While many of the requests are for bags, luggage and accessories, the damage-repair crew offers 700 different services. And in case you’re doubting whether that frayed tie merits their expert restoration, know that company policy is to examine every Hermès product, no matter how small, old, battered or not.

Paul Stuart has a staff of tailors on-site at each of its stores—the Madison Avenue flagship has a full-floor workshop with a team of 22—which allows for a speedy turnaround. CEO Paulette Garafalo says it’s not uncommon for men to come in with trousers that need adjusting or even a shirt that needs pressing before a big event. Most often, though, the tailors are working their magic on suits to accommodate inches lost or gained. If it’s something the in-house team can’t address—say, a Scottish cashmere sweater or an Italian nubuck belt—they’ll send it back to the factory to be revived. As Garafalo says: “It’s the essence of what we do, providing our customer with the very best—pieces that they’ll have for a very long time.”

Darning socks and patching seams have typically carried an association with hard times. Why fuss? You can afford a new one. But the increased interest in repairs among luxury consumers is proving that attitude is changing. In reality, repairs have been a secret weapon of savvy shoppers for decades. In his book Elegance, menswear historian Bruce Boyer quotes John D. Rockefeller III’s tailor at bygone Pec & Company: “Every couple of years he’d bring in his old shirts to be reconditioned. I put on new collars and cuffs and … patch a hole or something, and he’d get another five years out of them. Then back he’d come again with the shirts for the same treatment. That way he’d get fifteen or twenty years out of a shirt.”

That kind of thriftiness is just smart: if you invest in the best, why not get your money’s worth? And this re-collaring and re-cuffing service has long been a part of Turnbull & Asser, which keeps an archive of fabric offcuts from its bespoke shirts precisely for this purpose. Even for ready-made shirts, the company will do its best to match the fabric—trickier than it may sound, since colours can fade—or, at the very least, refurbish a shirt with a contrasting white collar and cuffs.

Some brands are going one step further and selling rehabilitated goods as collectibles unto themselves. After noticing the appetite for vintage Mark Cross products on the secondary market, CEO Ulrik Garde Due saw potential for new business. “Why should we be giving the vintage resale opportunity to third parties?” he says. “We represent future vintage. Meaning when you buy a Mark Cross product, it is long-lasting, and from a design point of view, it’s never going out of fashion. Let’s take ownership of this ourselves.”

The brand, which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year, began buying up vintage pieces in 2019, from attachés to opera glasses and rugby balls. Many of its vintage offerings now come from existing clients who trade in their old wares. A team assesses each piece and, if deemed worthy of resale, buys it back; then the firm either keeps it for the archives or puts it up for sale after repairing it (a service that is available for all Mark Cross products, regardless of whether owners want to off-load them).

“We have a solid group of existing customers buying vintage as well as new products, and we’re also seeing a completely new customer specifically for vintage. Young consumers and older consumers,” Garde Due says of the vintage collection’s broad appeal. “You can feel good about continuing the eco-cycle of a product. We are seeing an acceleration in the consumer’s antipathy towards the waste-producing model in the fashion and luxury world.”

French shoemaker J. M. Weston, too, is turning the scuffs and stains of its products’ past lives into a selling point. The dedicated repairs workshop at its Limoges headquarters fixes up or entirely rebuilds about 10,000 pairs of shoes each year. Expanding on that service, the brand decided to offer customers the option of trading in their tired kicks to be resold. Weston Vintage, which debuted earlier this year, accepts old shoes at any Weston boutique, where they’ll either be exchanged for store credit or, if they aren’t quite up to snuff, get a complimentary shine. Those that are bought are sent for refurbishing before heading back to the sales floor, in either one store in Japan or two in France. And just like that, the circle of sartorial life continues.

 

 

This piece comes from the new Spring Issue – on sale now. Get your copy or subscribe hereor stay up to speed on all things with Robb Report’s weekly luxury insights.

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Escape from the Ordinary

Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean.

By Robb Report Team 19/02/2024

Not all cruises are created equally. Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean. From the stunning Amalfi Coast to the pristine Greek Islands, the narrow Corinth Canal to the picturesque Dalmatian coast, historic Istanbul and beguiling Malaga, each destination is a unique adventure waiting to be unravelled. With Ponant, these aren’t just locations on a map; they’re experiences that come alive with the intimate knowledge and insight that their expert guides provide.

Ponant’s luxury cruises are renowned for their individuality, with no two journeys the same. This is not by chance. Itineraries are scrupulously designed to ensure that each passenger is left with a feeling of having embarked on a journey unlike any other.

Athens-Venise. Photograph by N.Matheus. ©PONANT

In 2025, their fleet will set sail for a combined 56 departures from March to October, exploring the dreamy locales of Greece and the Greek Islands, Malta, Italy (including Venice and Sicily), Croatia, France, Turkey, Spain and Portugal. These European Journeys offer an intimate encounter with the Mediterranean, its people and culture. As you cruise in luxury, you’ll dive deep into the heart of each destination, exploring historic sites, engaging with locals, sampling scrumptious cuisine and soaking in the vibrant atmospheres.

The company’s small, sustainable ships, which can accommodate from as few as 32 to 264 guests, have the exclusive ability to sail into ports inaccessible to larger cruise liners, affording privileged entry into some of the world’s most treasured alcoves. Picture sailing under London’s iconic Tower Bridge, crossing the Corinth Canal, or disembarking directly onto the sidewalk during ports of call in culturally rich cities like Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice and Venice, among others.

Photo by Tamar Sarkissian. ©PONANT

This singular closeness is further enriched by destination experts who unravel the tapestry of each locale’s history and traditions.

Onboard their luxurious ships, every guest is a VIP and treated to refined service and amenities akin to sailing on a private yacht. Whether at sea or ashore, their destination experts guarantee a fascinating experience, immersing you in the rich cultural and historical diversity of each region.

Indulge in the finest gastronomy at sea, inspired by none other than gastronomic virtuoso and Ponant partner, Alain Ducasse. Each voyage offers an expertly crafted dining experience, from a-la-carte meals with perfectly matched wines by the onboard Sommelier at dinner and lunch, to a French-inspired buffet breakfast, featuring all the favourite pastries, fresh bread and quality produce.

Chef Mickael Legrand. Photograph by NickRains. ©PONANT

For a more intimate discovery, consider Le Ponant, with its 16 high-class staterooms and suites—perfect for private charter—sailing eight exclusive routes between Greece and Croatia, offering guests unparalleled experiences both onboard and ashore. Ponant’s commitment to crafting unforgettable experiences extends beyond itineraries. Aboard their ships, the luxury is in every detail. Unwind in opulent cabins and suites, each offering private balconies and breathtaking views of the azure water and destinations beyond.

Ponant’s upcoming European Journeys are more than just cruises—they’re your passport to a world of cultural immersion, historical exploration, and unrivalled luxury. Don’t miss this opportunity to embark on the voyage of a lifetime: the Mediterranean is calling.

To book European 2025 sailings visit au.ponant.com; call 1300 737 178 (AU) or 0800 767 018 (NZ) or contact your preferred travel agent.

 

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Saint Laurent Just Opened a New Bookstore in Paris. Here’s a Look Inside.

The chic new outpost is located on the city’s arty Left Bank.

By Rachel Cormack 14/02/2024

Saint Laurent is taking over even more of Paris.

The French fashion house, which only just opened an epic new flagship on Champs-Élysées, has launched a chic new bookstore on the Left Bank. Located in the 7th arrondissement, Saint Laurent Babylone is a mecca of art, music, literature, and, of course, fashion.

The new outpost is a tribute to the connection that Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Bergé had to the Rue Babylone, according to Women’s Wear Daily. (In 1970, the pair moved to a 6,500-square-foot duplex on the street.) It is also inspired by the house’s original ready-to-wear boutique, Saint Laurent Rive Guache, which opened in the 6th arrondissement in 1966.

The exposed concrete in contrasted by sleek marble accents. SAINT LAURENT

With a minimalist, art gallery-like aesthetic, the space is anchored by a hefty marble bench and large black shelves. The raw, textured concrete on the walls is juxtaposed by a soft blue and white rug, a wooden Pierre Jeanneret desk, and sleek Donald Judd stools.

The wares within Saint Laurent Babylone are the most important part, of course. Curated by Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello, the collection includes everything from photos by British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey to books published by Saint Laurent itself. Some tomes on offer are so rare that white gloves are required for handling.

The store also offers an enviable selection of records that are no longer being pressed. Highlights include Sade’s Promise, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, and the debut studio album of electronic band Kraftwerk.

Other notable items on the shelves include Leica cameras, chocolates made in collaboration with pastry chef François Daubinet, prints by Juergen Teller, and brass skull sculptures. You’ll also find an assortment of YSL merch, including pens, lighters, and cups.

To top it off, Saint Laurent Babylone will double as an event space, hosting live music sessions, DJ sets, book readings, and author signings over the coming months.

Saint Laurent’s latest endeavor isn’t exactly surprising. With Vaccarello at the helm, the Kering-owned fashion house has entered new cultural realms. Only last year, the label established a film production company and debuted its first movie at Cannes.

The space is fitted with a Pierre Jeanneret desk and Donald Judd stools.
SAINT LAURENT

Perhaps Saint Laurent film reels and movie posters will soon be available at Babylone, too.

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The Best Watches at the Grammys, From Maluma’s Jacob & Co. to Jon Batiste’s Vacheron Constantin

Music’s biggest names sported some outstanding watches on Sunday evening.

By Rachel Mccormack 08/02/2024

Weird yet wonderful watches punctuated this year’s Grammys.

The woman of the moment, Taylor Swift, who made history by winning Album of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time, wore an unconventional Lorraine Schwartz choker watch to the annual awards ceremony on Sunday night. That was just the tip of the horological iceberg, though.

Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma elevated a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds, while American musician Jon Batiste topped off a stylish Versace ensemble with a sleek Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon. Not to be outdone, rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a rare Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for the occasion.

There was more understated wrist candy on display, too, such as Jack Antonoff’s Cartier Tank LC and Noah Kahan’s Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo.

For the rest of the best watches we saw on the Grammys 2024 red carpet, read on.

Maluma: Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon

Maluma busted out some truly spectacular bling for this year’s Grammys. The Colombian singer-songwriter paired a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds. The sculptural wrist candy sees a four-arm movement floating in front of a breathtaking dial adorned with no less than 257 rubies. For added pizzaz, the lugs of the 18-karat rose-gold case are invisibly set with 80 baguette-cut white diamonds. Limited to just nine examples, the rarity is priced at $1.5 million.

Asake: Hublot Big Bang Essential Grey

Nigerian singer-songwriter Asake may not have won the Grammy for Best African Music Performance for “Amapiano,” but did wear a winning Hublot Big Bang at Sunday’s proceedings. Released in 2023, the Essential Grey model is made purely of titanium for a sleek, uniform feel. The 42 mm timepiece was limited to just 100 pieces and cost $37,000 a pop.

John Legend: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding

Multihyphenate John Legend wore a legendary Audemars Piguet with silky Saint Laurent on Sunday evening. The self-winding Royal Oak in question features a 34 mm black ceramic case, a black grande tapisserie dial, and striking pink gold accents. The watchmaker’s signature is also displayed in gold under the sapphire crystal. The piece will set you back $81,000.

Jon Batiste: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon

American musician Jon Batiste received four nominations but no wins at this year’s Grammys. The “Butterfly” singer can take solace in the fact that he looked ultra-sharp in Versace and Vacheron Constantin. A tribute to the spirit of travel, the Overseas Tourbillon features a 42.5 mm white-gold case, a bezel set with 60 baguette-cut diamonds, and a blue dial featuring a dazzling tourbillon cage inspired by the Maltese cross. Price upon request, naturally.

Fireboy DML: Cartier Santos

Fireboy DML’s outfit was straight fire on Sunday night. The Nigerian singer paired an MCM wool jacket with a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet, several iced-out rings, and a sleek Cartier Santos. The timepiece features a steel case, a graduated blue dial with steel sword-shaped hands, and a seven-sided crown with synthetic faceted blue spinel.

Noah Kahan: Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo

Best New Artist nominee Noah Kahan wore one of Panerai’s best new watches to Sunday’s festivities. The Luminor Quaranta BiTempo features a 40 mm polished steel case and a black dial with luminous numerals and hour markers, a date display at 3 o’clock, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The timepiece can be yours for $14,000.

Busta Rhymes: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

Legendary rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a chic Audemars Piguet for this year’s Grammys. The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in question is distinguished by a 42 mm rose-gold case and a matching pink méga tapisserie dial with an outer flange for the tachymeter scale. The face is fitted with three black subdials, large black numerals, and a black date display at 3 o’clock. You can expect to pay around $61,200 for the chronograph on the secondary market.

Jack Antonoff: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Producer of the year Jack Antonoff took to the red carpet with a stylish Cartier on his wrist. The Tank Louis Cartier in question appears to be a large 33.7 mm example that features an 18-carat rose-gold case, a silvered dial with black Roman numerals and blued steel hands, a beaded crown set with a sapphire cabochon, and a brown alligator strap. It’ll set you back $19,900.

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This 44-Foot Carbon-Fiber Speedboat Can Rocket to 177 KMPH

The new Mayla GT is available with a range of different powertrains, too.

By Rachel Cormack 03/02/2024

We knew the Mayla GT would be one of the most exciting boats at Boot Düsseldorf, but a deep dive into the specs shows it could be downright revolutionary.

The brainchild of German start-up Mayla, the 44-footer brings you the blistering performance of a speedboat and the luxe amenities of a motor yacht in one neat carbon-fiber package.

Inspired by the go-fast boats of the 1970s and ‘80s, the GT sports an angular, retro-futuristic body and the sleek lines of a rocket ship. Tipping the scales at just 4500 kilograms, the lightweight design features a deep-V hull with twin transversal steps and patented Petestep deflectors that help it slice through the waves with ease. In fact, Mayla says the deflectors decrease energy usage by up to 35 percent while ensuring a more efficient planing.

The range-topping GT can reach 185 kph. MAYLA

The GT is also capable of soaring at breakneck speeds, with the option of a gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid powertrain. The range-topping GTR-R model packs dual gas-powered engines that can churn out 3,100 hp for a top speed of more than 100 knots (185 kph). At the other, more sustainable end of the spectrum, the E-GT is fitted with an electric powertrain that can produce 2,200 horses for a max speed of 50 knots. The hybrid E-GTR pairs that same electric powertrain with a 294 kilowatt diesel engine for a top speed of 60 knots (111 km/h/69 mph). (The GT in the water at Boot sported two entry-level V8s good for 650 hp and a top speed of over 70 knots.)

The GT is suitable for more than just high-speed jaunts, of course. The multipurpose cockpit, which can accommodate up to eight passengers, features a sundeck with sliding loungers, a wet bar and BBQ, and a foldaway dining table for alfresco entertaining. Further toward the stern, a beach club sits atop a garage with an electric transom door.

The garage has an electric transom door. MAYLA

The GT is even fit for overnight stays. Below deck lies a cabin with a double bed, sofa, wardrobe, vanity, and en suite. You can also expect a high-tech entertainment system with TVs and premium audio.

As for price, the GT with the entry-level powertrain will cost between $2.7 million and $2.9, depending on the final configuration. (You can fine-tune the layout, hull color, and interiors, naturally.) Interested buyers can set up a sea trial with Mayla, with test-drives set to begin this spring in Europe.

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Red Centre

First Nations artist Shaun Daniel Allen joins forces with Chopard to create a timepiece inspired by the Australian landscape.

By Horacio Silva 29/01/2024

Shaun Daniel Allen does not look like your typical collaborator on a prestige watch. For one, Shal, as he prefers to be known (“There are many Shauns but only one Shal,” he explains), is more heavily tattooed than your average roadie. His youthful appearance, bad-boy ink and all, belies his 38 years and leads to a disconnect. 

He recounts being recognised on the street recently by a journalist, who, unable to remember his name, shouted out, “Chopard!” “I was with a friend,” Shal says, holding court in his apartment in Sydney’s inner city, “and he’s, like, ‘What the hell? Does that happen to you often?’”

Perhaps because of his body art, he reasons, “People don’t put me and Chopard together.” It’s not hard to understand the confusion, Shal adds; even he was taken aback when Chopard reached out to him about a potential collaboration a little more than a year ago. “When I first went in to see them, I was, like, I don’t know if I’m your guy. I’m not used to being in those rooms and having those conversations.”

He’ll have to adapt quickly to his new reality. Last month Chopard released Shal’s interpretation of the Swiss brand’s storied Alpine Eagle model, which in itself was a redo of the St. Moritz, the first watch creation by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (now Co-President of Chopard) in the late 1970s. 

Previewed at Sydney’s About Time watch fair in September, to not insignificant interest, and officially known as the Alpine Eagle Sunburnt, the exclusive timepiece—issued in a limited edition of 20—arrives as a stainless steel 41 mm with a 60-hour power reserve and a burnt red dial that brings to mind the searing Outback sun. Its see-through caseback features one of Shal’s artworks painted on sapphire glass.

When the reputable Swiss luxury brand approached Shal, they already had the red dial—a nod to the rich ochre hues of the Australian soil at different times of the day and gradated so that the shades become darker around the edges—locked in as a lure for Australian customers.

Shal was charged with designing an artful caseback and collectible hand-painted sustainable wooden case. After presenting a handful of paintings, each with his signature abstract motifs that pertain to indigenous emblems, tattoos and music, both parties landed on a serpentine image that evoked the coursing of rivers. “I have been painting a lot of water in this last body of work and the image we chose refers to the rivers at home,” he says, alluding to formative years spent at his grandfather’s, just outside of Casino.

It says a lot about Chopard, Shal points out, that they wanted to donate to a charity of his choosing. “Like everything else on this project,” he explains, “they were open to listening and taking new ideas on board and it actually felt like a collaboration, like they weren’t steering me into any corner.”

In another nice touch, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the watch will go to funding programs of the Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Corporation—an organisation, established in 1995 by Bundjalung elders, whose work Shal saw firsthand after the 2022 eastern Australia flood disasters ravaged their area. “Seeing Ngunya Jarjum suffer from the floods,” he says, “and knowing how much they do for the community on Bundjalung Country was heartbreaking. I want to see Bundjalung families thriving and supported.”

So what’s it been like for this booster of Australian waterways to be swimming in the luxury end of the pool? “I’ve done a few things with brands,” he offers, referring to the Louis Vuitton project earlier this year at an art gallery in Brisbane, “but nothing on this scale. It’s definitely fancier than I’m used to but I’m not complaining.” Neither are watch aficionados.

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