Luxury today and tomorrow: a critical analysis of a restart

The upturn in the high-end sector was expected, hoped for and longed for. And, in its way, it has come, explains the Altagamma and Bain & Company Market Monitor. But if 2021 has allowed us to breathe again, 2022 will not be an easy year. There are still many unresolved critical issues (Covid, first of all) that call for caution and awareness that, in the long term, this restart will not reward everyone


It had to be a recovery. It had to be. Because it was expected, hoped for, longed for. Because it had to come true. And so it has, for luxury and fashion in a general sense. But this restart, which has confirmed its V shape, will not be for everyone. The Market Monitor by Altagamma and Bain & Company, presented in Milan on 11 November, explains it to us.

Critical analysis of a restart

In a nutshell: luxury in 2021 will not only make +29% year-on-year but more importantly +1% in 2019. The significance of this finding is clear: the sector globally has put the worst period of Covid behind it. This is in general. Specifically, in the personal goods category, 2021 will bring in €283 billion, resuming that growth path, interrupted by the virus, which should lead to €360/380 billion in 2025.

Good, but not great

Beware, however, of giving too much credence to enthusiasm. In other words, 2022 will still be a year of transition, albeit in a positive area, with many markets affected by the consequences of the pandemic. Not only that. As the health crisis has accelerated the phenomenon of market polarisation, the recovery does not and will not concern everyone, given that (explains Market Monitor) the top 7 brands alone account for 35% of sales.

Holiday season

The analysis photographs a luxury market in recovery. The imminent Holiday Season will have a great influence on the final result. In other words, the sales season began with Chinese Singles’ Day and goes through the Christmas holidays. The approach remains optimistic: it is estimated that footwear will bring in a total of 23 billion (+11% in 2019), while accessories and leather goods are 62 billion (+8%). The Casual style remains prevalent, but all the time spent at home is prompting consumers to re-evaluate elegance: this means that with the acclaimed success of trainers, for example, there is a return of women’s footwear for ceremonies.


In parallel and perspective, Altagamma Consensus forecasts that 2022 will also be in a positive area. Leather goods will again increase by 11% year-on-year and footwear by 9%. But the recomposition of the market poses challenges that risk becoming exclusive. In terms of market recomposition, the pandemic has required huge investments in digital and retail to reach consumers who are unable to travel in their geographies.

These investments are not within everyone’s reach. In the same way, to the efforts made so far to catch the growing wave of the Chinese (whose spending on luxury goods in 2022, according to Consensus, will register +13%), we must add those to balance the sources of revenue and not be too Beijing-dependent.

The United States is the main target. The market is polarising because only the biggest brands can seize all the opportunities. According to Bain, the top seven brands, which account for 35% of sales, are up to 18 times larger than the industry average. There is room for new entries, of course, but there are only a few who are in command of the luxury game. Very few.

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