The Financial Times published a special section entitled the Business of Luxury today and for it I spoke with Christian Louboutin, the famous French designer of ridiculously high and ridiculously expensive (and let’s face it, ridiculously sexy) high heels.
“Sales have been absolutely great,” he said. “When we first talked about it, I was a pessimist. I thought it would take time for people to realize I have a store in Brazil but it has been the opposite, we have had to reorder styles after a month because we were out of stock. It has been immediate.”
Louboutin said sales were such he was planning to open another store in the capital Brasilia, in the new Iguatemi mall that opened there in March.
“I always wanted to go to Brasilia. I am optimistic for Brazil, I am an optimistic person in general and I am really excited about Brasilia so I am very happy all round.”
My piece from Brazil appears here and starts out with information on the Iguatemi malls. The company runs a dozen of Brazil’s high end shopping centers and is so convinced that the general rise in living standards will create a new class of people with cash to fritter away on Louis Vuitton handbags, Tommy Hilfiger shirts and Swarovski crystals that it is building four new malls in rural São Paulo state.
That’s a fascinating detail because more than two-thirds of the $6.7 billion spent on luxury goods in Brazil each year is handed over in São Paulo, Brazil’s business and industrial capital.
It means that the experts believe there will soon be people in cities such as Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Brasilia and Porto Alegre who desire the same high end products as the super rich of São Paulo.
“Wealth is growing more outside São Paulo,” said Vera Lopes, the Brazilian head of the Luxury Marketing Council. “That is very good because the newly rich will have a thirst for products.”
The number is already growing. As I say in the FT story:
In 2008, the number of High Net Worth Individuals in Brazil rose to 131,000, surpassing the number in Australia and Spain and taking Brazil to 10th on the world table of super rich, according to the 2009 World Wealth Report carried out by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management.
Proof that there is huge room for growth? China has 85 Louis Vuitton stores. Brazil has five.