Luxury brands have often established their reputation over many decades. Their prestigious reputation nearly always precedes them. But how do they convey long-established decadence through their online presence?
In this series, we take a detailed look at the luxury website design of some of the biggest names in high-end retail. We aim to determine how they perform across a range of criteria, from user experience to virtual design and retail integration. Our goal is to uncover what is working best and how this can help emerging luxury brands design their websites.
Givenchy: Understated Parisian Luxury
Givenchy is a French luxury fashion and perfume house. Established in Paris in 1952, it is one of the youngest brands featured in our series so far. Founder, Hubert Givenchy, worked closely with his muse, Audrey Hepburn, to create the classic, elegant designs for which the brand has long been famous.
Since its inception, the fashion brand has been under the artistic direction of some of the most well-known names in couture fashion. Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Claire Waight Keller all established their careers at Givenchy. Under Keller’s direction, the House famously designed Meghan Markle’s wedding dress. The most recent change came in June 2020, welcoming Matthew M. Williams as Creative Director. It remains to be seen if he will dramatically alter the brand’s direction. For now, it seems he is retaining its classic, Parisian look.
Givenchy’s website rarely relies on cutting-edge technology or bold displays to grab the user’s attention. The focus is firmly on allowing the brand and pieces to sell themselves. According to a YouGov poll, Givenchy resonates most with the baby boomer generation. Baby boomers generally don’t have smartphones saturated with apps and digital distractions, unlike younger markets. Appealing to their primary audience could be a reason for their simple aesthetic and understated approach. Read on for our critique as we delve into the details of Givenchy’s luxury website design.
Focusing on Craftsmanship Above All Else: Special Features Rating 4/5
There is little in the way of ground-breaking technology or attention-grabbing gimmicks on Givenchy’s website. At first glance, it looks remarkably plain, but as you explore the site further there are elements of exquisite website design. The quality of the clothing is portrayed through excellent use of video and moving images.
Fostering Trust with Complete Transparency
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of their iconic Antigona handbag, Givenchy’s website has a ‘Discover’ section. It is here that the power of their videos and images to portray bold luxury comes to the fore. A series of alternating black and white images display their new line of Antigona handbags. In direct contrast with the rest of the site, they use white text on a black background. The white neon sign at the top of the page boldly greets the user. It’s a dramatic technique, rarely employed across the site, which immediately commands attention.
As you scroll further there is a brief history of the bag before you are presented with visuals detailing its creation. Firstly, there is a beautiful animation showing the bag coming together from its composite parts. Beneath that is a black and white video showing the construction of the bag by a white-gloved craftsperson. The emphasis is undoubtedly on the quality of the materials and the exquisite craftsmanship involved in the bag’s creation.
Rather than showing an alluring luxury, shrouded in mystery, Givenchy is letting you in on their secrets. Other bag designs are presented similarly. ‘The Mystic Bag’ page also includes a video of how Mystic is made. The precision, expertise and time involved in its construction justify the price tag. Every bag also has a detailed description of the inspiration behind it, where the materials are sourced, and the processes they go through before you get the finished product.
Givenchy’s tactic is inclusive rather than exclusive and demonstrates quiet confidence that the quality of the pieces alone is enough to sell them. Their complete transparency with their customers fosters a sense of trust. It displays the care and quality which goes into each bag which firmly sets them apart from high street brands.
Givenchy Beauty: Smart Customer Segmentation
The beauty tab on Givenchy’s navigation bar, surprisingly, opens a completely separate Givenchy Beauty website. This might appear strange at first, but it is a smart idea which allows the brand to differentiate their messaging. The beauty site is far more interactive and playful.
Smart placement of inbuilt content encourages the user to remain on the site. There are videos to advertise their perfumes, make-up tutorials, and quizzes to ascertain the perfect foundation shade. Each of these imparts valuable information to the user and promotes Givenchy’s authority in the beauty industry. Colour is dotted everywhere, directly reflecting the product ranges. They still retain their undoubtedly Parisian identity but veer far enough from the main Givenchy site that it warrants a completely separate entity.
Perfect Navigation and Browsing Filters: User Experience Rating 5/5
Givenchy does an excellent job of gifting their customers time and space. The image carousel you see first at the top of the home page allows you to easily pause and click between the image tiles. Whilst not ground-breaking, it is among the cleanest and classiest designs we have seen.
The navigation bar is simple and uncluttered, but the filter options are where Givenchy’s website excels. When browsing there are multiple options beyond the standard colour and size. You can select by Season, in-store or online availability. If you are looking for something specific, it couldn’t be easier to narrow down your search.
Givenchy Beauty also has excellent navigation. They divide their skincare ranges down into the typical ‘Products’, but also ‘Concern’. There’s even a tab for ‘Looks’, which includes ‘Signature’, ‘Couture’, and ‘Inspiration Looks’. The website’s designers have evidently thought carefully about the customer journey. Rather than highlighting technical names of luxury skincare products and espousing the benefits of chemicals that few understand, Givenchy shows that they care about what their customer wants from a makeup brand.
Less is More: Visual Design Rating 3.5/5
Givenchy’s site is coordinated and understated – excessively so. Their colour palette is consistent from their website right through to their Instagram: white, black, sky blue and muted red. Everything is so well-coordinated it is a little too easy to skim over everything. It’s a beautifully constructed cohesive whole, but the purpose of an eCommerce store is to entice people to buy. How do you grab someone’s attention if nothing jumps out at them?
However, Givenchy may be onto something here. They are letting the products speak for themselves and, with a brand of this stature, it’s working. A common theme emerging among the luxury website designs we have analysed so far is the prominence of a minimalist approach.
Rather than opting for extravagant designs, these fashion houses are letting the brand reputation and the clothes do the talking. Despite the eye-watering prices, they don’t opt for elaborate sales techniques. It’s a remarkable sign of confidence in their brand reputation, customer loyalty, and faith in their craftsmanship. These brands command respect.
A less is more approach is something worth considering if you are trying to emulate this sense of luxury on your site. While the minimalist aesthetic may not be synonymous with online luxury forever, it is the style of the moment in luxury website design.
Suited to a Smaller Screen: Mobile Optimisation Rating 4.5/5
The website offers remarkable similarity across desktop and mobile. The benefit of such a simple desktop design is that not a lot needs to be sacrificed to fit a smaller screen. The mobile site similarly makes great use of white space. Givenchy must be commended for the unbelievably smooth mobile user experience. Navigation is effortless and loading times are lightning-fast.
The links to check for stock in stores and contact the team, either via call or email, are even more prominent on the mobile site than in browsers. The quick and easy connection to an advisor is reassuring and a sign of excellent customer care.
Detailed Information and Repeated Calls to Action: Retail Integration Rating 3.5/5
Despite the modest design, Givenchy’s website includes multiple calls to action. ‘Shop Now’ frequently appears across the homepage. With minimal distractions from additional features and stories, browsing the website is similar to a retail store experience:the user is focussed on purchasing above all else.
The filter options allow you to easily see what is available online or browse by store. It is a painless process to find out exactly what is available in any store across the world. This detail is impressive considering the vast international scale of the Givenchy brand.
Givenchy’s Luxury Website Design: More than Meets the Eye
The ‘Maison’ section of Givenchy’s website provides endless details of the brand’s history, journey, and collections. It is all there if you choose to look for it. But Givenchy ever so smoothly gives their customer time, space and the choice to come to them. It’s a bold choice, but one they utilise across the whole site.
On initial appearance, their site looks fairly normal. But when you look a little closer, it is nothing short of beautiful. The emphasis on craftsmanship, devoid of gimmicks, is bold and exudes Parisian confidence. With an understated design and impeccable details, they have perfectly displayed the unquestionable quality of the Givenchy brand in their luxury website design.