Aman on the ins and outs of selling retail

Update: On Wednesday, Aman Essentials launched in Harrods department story, marking the first time it has offered its skincare, fragrance and spa candles in a retail destination outside Aman hotels and resorts.

Designed to continue Aman’s holistic journey outside the parameters of its hotels and resorts, Aman Essentials was created to cater to the demand of its brand loyalists seeking to extend their experiences in their own homes.

Focused primarily on retail leather goods, spa-related products and more recently ready-to-wear, sales targets and projections for 2023 aim to drive a further 162% in revenue growth through greater visibility of the brand across its own and partner channels. A line of fine jewelry is in the pipeline.

In fact, the recent re-platforming and relaunch of the Aman Essentials website and further investment into this channel is part of the ultra-luxury brand’s strategic vision for expansion and they are projecting revenue growth of over 300% from its e-commerce channel over the next 12 months, according to Kristina Romanova, Aman Essentials CEO.

“For example, our clients love to collect the Aman luggage tags from each of our locations that bring back the joyous memories of their time with us,” Romanova says. “This led to the creation of Aman Leather Collection, which you can purchase online now. Similarly, the Aman Spa experience has been at the essence of the Aman offering for decades, and the creation of Aman Skincare in 2018 was following the demand from our guests to create Aman Spa rituals that could be completed at home.”

Aman Essentials ready-to-wear

HOTELS spoke to Romanova to learn more about Aman’s strategy around the sale of branded goods and find out about her takeaways during her journey.

HOTELS: How do you decide on product lines to best match the Aman brand essence, experiences?

Kristina Romanova: I have been fortunate to have visited most of the Aman destinations across the globe and this has informed a lot of the inspiration for the product development, not just of the ranges overall, but the specific items within each collection too.

My creative process sees me draw inspiration from the Aman locations themselves. For example, I think of the desert surrounding Amangiri, or Amanpuri’s iconic coconut palms, as well as the experiences and activities within each of our properties. From there, coupled with the demand and requests of our clients, we started developing product ranges like the Aman Skincare as an extension of the Aman Spa experience, while our first ready-to-wear collection was focused on celebrating the Aman lifestyle through a timeless collection of contemporary, classic pieces.

For example, guests enjoying their time at Amanyara or Amanpulo can wear our activewear with the signature A at the gym or hiking, spend time in a bikini or swim shorts on the beach – that will often be in our monogram or classic Aman color palette such as deep greens inspired by the jungles of Amanjiwo or the terracotta of Amanjena, and then change into our classic linen shirts, or silk slip dresses, which are perfect for the evening.

We also know from our client feedback that our guests value their time more than anything. Often, they want to travel light and knowing we can cater to everything they need when they are on property and curate a wardrobe for them based on both their tastes and their itinerary is something they consider to be a great luxury.

H: What is the best approach for working with manufacturers?

KR: With the creation and evolution of Aman Essentials, I am not only committed to developing the finest quality products but also looking at how we can have the smallest impact on the planet. This is an integral part of the work I am doing with my suppliers and owing to this, as a minimum requirement, every supplier is required to sign an Aman Code of Conduct which sets out clear standards in relation to environmental consideration and working conditions.

All suppliers must also have relevant sustainable practice certificates from independent bodies such as Oeko-Tex and Global Organic Textile Standards, and we are always on the lookout for the most up-to-date sustainable materials that keep coming to the market. We will continue this search so that we keep improving in this area as well.

This approach and transparency with our manufacturers and suppliers from the beginning of our relationship with them guarantees we are all aligned with our ambitions surrounding the product, our ethos, and long-term ambitions surrounding sustainability.

H: What is the biggest challenge to market these products?

KR: The global supply chain crisis. This has been having a huge impact on so many industries, but for us, it has primarily affected our ability to plan our collection launches with certainty that the supply chain challenges will not impact our target live dates.

“Longer-term, we are exploring dedicated Aman Boutique spaces outside of Aman destinations as we continue to develop Aman Essentials into a lifestyle business with serious long-term ambitions for growth.” – Katrina Romanova

Fortunately, as our operating model is to produce low stock quantities of our seasonless collections, we have in place strong contingency plans which means we have resolved many of these issues. But it can still prove challenging.

H: Can you compare on-property boutique sales to online sales?

KR: Aman Essentials products are available in Aman Boutiques across the globe within our Aman destinations, which are a seamless continuation of the Aman experience on property, giving guests direct access to our range of luxury lifestyle products inspired by our destinations and their experiences.

We launched in 2018 when we launched Aman Skincare, as we wanted to offer our clients the opportunity to continue to purchase their much-loved Aman Skincare products from the comfort of their homes. Over time, we have expanded the collections available via our website and most recently launched the full Leather Collection online. In time, we will continue to add select ready-to-wear pieces online, too.

Additionally, we work with a number of carefully selected wholesale partners for our Skincare and Fine Fragrance collections, including Violet Grey, Luisa Via Roma, and Neiman Marcus, while our ready-to-wear collections remain exclusively available via Aman destinations. In time, we will have further partnerships and Aman boutiques outside of the havens of our properties, which I am excited to reveal in the coming months.

H: What is the best marketing approach for your products?

KR: We are fortunate to benefit from the decades of brand value and equity that Aman Group has built overall since the opening of Amanpuri in 1988. It’s very important to me that the Aman DNA and heritage of the brand are both protected and visible in everything we do or create, especially as our destinations and their experiences have been such a source of inspiration for the collections and ranges we have developed.

As I mentioned before, we are not connected to seasonal trends, but instead are focused on creating the perfect Amanjunkie lifestyle and wardrobe, perfecting every detail and curating a timeless collection. This is visible also throughout our marketing approach which focuses not on following the seasonal fashion calendars, but rather on speaking authentically to our clients throughout the year about the place these pieces have in their daily lives.

For us, we have a very engaged community of self-proclaimed Amanjunkies, who are deeply connected to the brand and have driven the demand for the evolution of Aman Essentials. In addition to this community, we speak directly with our consumers primarily through our own channels to share the Aman Essentials collections in the context of the coveted Aman lifestyle, which demonstrates how we have created an entire ecosystem that captures the essence of the Aman experience.

H: What feedback are you getting from clients?

KR: One of the things that makes me the proudest of the work we are doing with Aman Essentials is the positive feedback we are receiving from our clients. I often conduct what I call ‘listening tours’ when I am visiting Aman destinations where I can have meaningful conversations with our guests and clients about what they like, what they are looking for us to improve upon and what more they are looking to the Aman brand to deliver for them outside of our properties.

There is nothing more valuable to me than these conversations with real-time feedback from our brand loyalists. Plus, when I then see them on the beach in our swimwear, or at the gym in our activewear I am delighted to see the love for the products we have created.

The Essentials by Aman

H: What are your learnings or takeaways since launching on clothing line?

KR: My main learning has been to trust my instincts and listen to our community. The honest and open feedback we receive from our brand loyalists is hugely valuable and one of the best ways in which we can continue to improve what we deliver for them.

I have also been very focused on not compromising – at Aman quality is at the heart of everything we do as a brand, and this has to be reflected throughout every product we develop. I have an extensive testing phase to ensure that we are confident in the quality of every product and that it has a long-term place in our curated and considered collection of pieces that are designed to form part of our customers’ daily lives for decades to come.

H: How important is the sustainability aspects to Essentials?

KR: Sustainability is very important to Aman Essentials. This is very much a journey that we are working on throughout every step of the company and something that we keep front of mind whenever we are developing new products or looking at our activity as a business overall.

I mentioned earlier the supplier codes of conduct we have in place and the importance of sustainable materials within our ready-to-wear collections, and this is the case across the business. For example, all of our Aman Skincare products are vegan and cruelty-free, and nothing is tested on animals. The products are also housed in recyclable, bespoke glass vessels and our packaging bags, sleeves and cartons are produced using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper-based substrates which are produced in the U.K.’s Lake District. This paper is entirely recyclable and highly sustainable due to the FSC’s chain of custody, which protests the forests where the pulp is harvested.

With our ready-to-wear, one of the other reasons we decided not to create seasonal collections was also to be mindful of the impact this has on the planet. I don’t ever want to over-produce and create waste. Our seasonless collections are produced in small volumes also to minimize the chances of waste and are designed as a collection of timeless pieces to ensure they have longevity in our clients’ wardrobes.

There will always be areas in which we can continue to improve, and we strive to do so, as Aman Essentials is committed to finding new ways in which we can care for the environment while continuing to create products that are of the finest quality. For example, we have a forthcoming collection, called our ‘Heritage Logo’ collection over 70% of which is made from sustainable materials and all the dyes used are derived from entirely natural sources.

H: Have you launched the fine jewelry line, and can you offer any details?

KR: We have Aman Fine Jewellery in the pipeline, which we are set to launch later this year. I don’t want to reveal too much, but as with everything Aman Essentials, this is a curated collection of timeless, considered pieces that take their cues from the refined elegance and clean aesthetic of the Aman brand and the signature A.

H: What’s next?

KR: We have several exciting projects in the pipeline as we continue to evolve the Aman Essentials proposition. In the coming months, we will launch some food and beverage products, which will be available exclusively at our destinations, as well as a forthcoming collaboration which will see us launch a limited-edition skincare product, which will be the perfect travel addition to the existing Aman Skincare range.

Longer-term, we are exploring dedicated Aman Boutique spaces outside of Aman destinations as we continue to develop Aman Essentials into a lifestyle business with serious long-term ambitions for growth.