Luxury fashion brands ownership of private art foundations: A new way of conceiving marketing

Alessia Grassi, Tracy Cassidy, Stephen Wigley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Luxury fashion brands often seek to (explicitly and implicitly) imbue themselves with sophisticated notions of cultural value, creative innovation and authenticity in attempting to maintain an aura of exclusivity despite global brand recognition,mass consumer appeal and wide distribution. As such, luxury fashion brands have become innovators in balancing highly visible forms of marketing promotion such as advertising, social media campaigns and celebrity endorsement with more sophisticated strategies aimed at underlining the creative credibility, discerning exclusivity and cultural significance of theirproducts. A key means of achieving this, as practiced by brands including Louis Vuitton and Prada, has been in aligning the luxury fashion brand with the world of contemporary art. Initially taking the form of sponsoring and displaying art installations in stores or retail windows, this practice evolved to incorporate exhibitions in brand-owned galleries, and today is encapsulated in semi-autonomous art foundations dedicated to acquiring and publicly displaying private art collections, often in dedicated, showpiece properties located in the brand’s home city. Overall, evidence suggests that contemporary art has acquired a pivotal role in luxury fashion marketing, by conveying the cultural cachet and creative significance of art to the brands in a sophisticated, non-overt, and seemingly socially-responsible manner. Yet, it remains unclear how consumers think with regards of these foundations, and whether such realities should be considered as an innovative marketing tool that can generate significant benefits for both the fashion brand and the society. This paper examines this phenomenon by offering insight to the history, motives, and practice of luxury fashion brands using association with contemporary art to boost their brand image. Furthermore, through the analysis of a set of in-depth interviews with experts in luxury branding and public engagement, this paper will propose that this practice actually transcends traditional marketing strategies in attempting to connect with customers on an intellectual, cultural and social level. This exploratory study will give fashion brands’ consumers an insight in an emerging realm of luxury brand marketing practice – the surreptitiously integration and association of cultural knowledge, contemporary art, and public engagement, with luxury brands in an attempt to insinuate brand credentials in the mind of consumers in a stealthy, ostensibly altruistic and subtle manner.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Marketing Trends
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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