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    Do Cruise collections still have a place in luxury?

    From Dior’s whistle stop tour to the Scottish highlands, to Balenciaga’s Shanghai spectacle, Cruise shows have become increasingly far-flung in recent years. What’s the return on investment for brands?
    Model on the runway at the Dior Cruise 2025 Show held at Drummond Castle on June 3, 2024 in Perthshire, Scotland. Image: Getty Images

    Wedged conveniently in between the Spring and Fall fashion week calendars, Cruise season is peak time for brands to charm their top-level global clientele.

    The 2025 circuit was no different, with luxury players splurging on their far-flung destination spectacles.

    Dior showcased its Cruise collection in Scotland’s gardenia-filled Drummond Castle, while Gucci chose London’s Tate Modern for its Resort show. Louis Vuitton hosted guests at Barcelona’s Park Guëll, Chanel opted for the rooftop of Marseille’s MaMo Arts Center, Balenciaga took over Shanghai’s Museum of Art Pudong, and Max Mara presented in Venice’s Palazzo Ducale.

    Resort shows took a brief pause during Covid-19 lockdowns. Post-pandemic, brands are ramping up their Resort season world tours to win back consumers and create buzz.

    But amid the elaborate dinners, broad climates, cultural excursions and extensive rollout of new wares, what value does the prestigious affair of a Cruise show actually hold for brands today?

    Dior's Cruise 2025 show took place in the heart of Scotland's bucolic Drummond Castle. Image: Getty Images
    Dior's Cruise 2025 show took place in the heart of Scotland's bucolic Drummond Castle. Image: Getty Images

    Catering to the crème de la crème#

    While the fashion month rotation welcomes a melange of attendees – including famous faces, press, influencers, style commentators, and other media insiders – Cruise season tends to be exclusively reserved for luxury’s haute monde.

    Hence the atmosphere surrounding destination shows is markedly more esteemed.

    “Not only do [Cruise shows] provide an excellent opportunity to create an immersive brand experience in a unique setting, but they also allow the brand to create a closer connection with their regional audience,” Alison Bringé, CMO at Launchmetrics tells Jing Daily.

    A far cry from the crowded calendars of the Big Four, resort events usually comprise intimate multi-day experiences for a tight-knit of high-net-worth-individuals, VICs (very important customers) and VIPs. Though this guestlist has expanded to include press, influencers, and celebrities over recent years, the exclusivity factor remains high.

    Destination shows often comprise lavish settings with uber-elite guestlists. Image: Getty Images
    Destination shows often comprise lavish settings with uber-elite guestlists. Image: Getty Images

    Good ROI?#

    But these elaborate jaunts come with a cost. The price of a Cruise collection can easily rack up to seven figures for a brand today.

    And in a period marked by slowing luxury spending and industry overproduction concerns, questions over the relevance of destination shows are mounting.

    Recent fashion months have seen brands throw cash at runway spectacles to galvanize online attention. Funding for Cruise collections, however, is typically spent on the less-documented, behind-the-scenes itineraries hosted in the run-up to the main event.

    This can include anything from lavish dinners and parties, to novel experiences and cultural tours.

    Despite the hefty costs, Elisa Harca, co-founder and CEO of marketing agency Red Ant Asia, argues that these shows remain good value for money for brands.

    “While the cruise line may not occupy the same central focus as the SS/FW shows, it maintains must-have status and plays a vital role in the brand’s creative vision and commercial strategy,” Harca says.

    Last year’s Cruise show results showed a healthy return on investment.

    According to influencer marketing platform Lefty, five of the 15 most popular fashion shows of last year (in terms of earned media value) were Resort collections, with Gucci, Boss, Versace and Max Mara’s pre-collection runways generating significantly higher EMV than their SS24 presentations.

    Versace's Cruise 2024 showcase brought in more EMV than the brand's SS23 presentation. Image: Versace
    Versace's Cruise 2024 showcase brought in more EMV than the brand's SS23 presentation. Image: Versace

    Palate cleansers#

    As mid-year fatigue sets in, the precursor of a Cruise collection can help maintain a steady stream of new merchandise for consumers, says Bringé.

    “Cruise collections are a great opportunity for brands to generate continuous global exposure between the main fashion seasons, allowing them to maintain their presence and stand out in today’s fast-moving landscape,” Bringé adds.

    But they’ve also drawn criticism from the fashion industry. With many designers already overseeing multiple collections per year, resort lines can pile more pressure onto creatives to overstretch themselves – not to mention their contribution to the production cycle.

    That said, the accessible wearability of resort wear still resonates with consumers.

    Last summer, for example, Chanel’s Formula 1-inspired T-shirt from its Cruise 2022 collection made the rounds among fashion influencers. Despite its $4,000 price tag, the tee quickly went viral online, with the hashtag #chanelf1 amassing almost 8 million views on TikTok at the time.

    Chanel's F1-inspired tee from its Cruise 2023 collection made a splash online last year. Image: Instagram
    Chanel's F1-inspired tee from its Cruise 2023 collection made a splash online last year. Image: Instagram

    Asia’s allure#

    With Asia now making up a crucial portion of sales for luxury brands, Cruise collections play an important role in unlocking the region’s spending power.

    Resort calendars are an opportune time for brands to form alliances with Asia’s luxury spenders.

    In terms of EMV, Lefty reported that the top three destination shows of last year were all hosted in Asia: Louis Vuitton women’s pre-fall in Seoul, Gucci Cruise in Seoul and Louis Vuitton men’s pre-fall in Hong Kong.

    China in particular is in demand, as brands scramble to align themselves with domestic shoppers via homegrown celebrities and localized activations.

    Chanel, for instance, jet-setted to the tech hub of Shenzhen last November – five years after the house’s first scheduled show in the SAR was canceled due to political protests – to host its 2024 Cruise collection.

    Gucci's Cruise 2024 showcase in Seoul merged cultural traditions with modern day luxury. Image: Gucci
    Gucci's Cruise 2024 showcase in Seoul merged cultural traditions with modern day luxury. Image: Gucci

    The presentation (originally revealed in Los Angeles four months prior) concluded a curated three-day event packed with panel talks, cinema screenings and night markets, each designed to immerse VIP invitees in the country’s culture.

    In a similar move, Balenciaga opted to host its Cruise 2025 collection at Pudong’s Museum of Art last month. FROWers included Chinese singer songwriter Bibi Zhou, actor Zheng Kai, and Michelle Yeoh. The event generated 65.8 million views on Weibo’s official livestream, while the #BalenciagainShanghai hashtag garnered 33 million views.

    Prior to the show, guests participated in a masterclass in xiaolongbao (steamed bun) making as part of Balenciaga’s four-day partnership with famed local restaurant Nu Xiang Mu Dou.

    View post on TikTok

    Cultural sensitivities#

    The viral response to Balenciaga’s show evidences how these junkets can significantly boost a brand’s international presence, though Harca argues there’s a fine line between championing diverse cultures versus exploiting cultural sensitivities under the guise of marketing.

    Harca cites Gucci’s Cruise 2024 showcase at Seoul’s historical Gyeongbokgung Palace as an example of a brand creating a compelling cultural narrative.

    By blending elements of the garment design with the palace’s backdrop, Harca says, the presentation “found a beautiful balance between cultural authenticity and maximizing market impact.”

    Mainline seasonal collections may continue to take priority. But Cruise lines remain a crucial component in leveraging a brand’s storytelling, global credibility, and – more importantly – their relationship with diverse regional consumers.


    • Cruise season, strategically placed between Spring and Fall fashion weeks, is crucial for brands to engage with top-tier global clientele through destination shows.
    • Despite high costs, Cruise shows offer good ROI, with last year's Cruise shows from brands like Gucci and Versace generating significant earned media value (EMV) compared to their main season presentations.
    • Choosing locations in Asia can prove a successful strategy for brands, as LEfty reported that the top three destination shows of last year were all hosted in Asia: Louis Vuitton women’s pre-fall in Seoul, Gucci Cruise in Seoul and Louis Vuitton men’s pre-fall in Hong Kong.
    • Successful Cruise collections, like Gucci’s 2024 show in Seoul, demonstrate the balance between cultural authenticity and marketing impact, requiring brands to navigate cultural sensitivities carefully to maintain credibility and resonance with regional consumers.
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