On The Runway At Heathrow


Seventy million passengers pass through this global travel hub every year. Twenty five million are in transit – a captive audience and a retailers dream. Who better to comment on trends than the people who work in these duty-free stores?



“Black is still a very popular colour but we also have some people looking for that special colour they can wear to a special occasion. Jewellery is our most popular seller, as it’s been for the last 130 years, and watches and handmade scarves are also in demand. Handcrafted goods have become covetable items and some of our handbags have 70 hours worth of crafting going into them.

Some of our Chinese and Indian customers are attracted to this bag because the vibrant orange colour signifies life and would more than likely match their outfit. With the growing Chinese market for luxury goods, many fashion labels are using red in their designs as it means good luck and good health.”



“We focus mainly on jewellery here, which is easy to try on in our store and carry home on a flight. Our bangles are popular, with the type all depending on the size of someone’s wrist. The round bracelets suit a smaller wrist while the spur bracelets are for bigger wrists. Rose gold is popular at the moment because it’s a really beautiful colour and even Swarovski has introduced this colour into some of their jewellery ranges. People are looking for statement items. Our bestselling colour handbag is red, followed by purple, which looks to be the new winter colour. Buying jewellery tax free is obviously a big incentive for many of our customers as we’re even cheaper than Hong Kong
and Dubai.”


Kurt Gieger

“The weather has been so bad in the UK this winter, yet our sandals are still selling well to outbound passengers. No-one seems to bother about the weather outside the airport from my experience, if someone likes it they buy it. Riding boots are still big, heels are still in as well as the shoe boot which is worn with dresses. Ankle boots with buckles and straps have appeared and because they’re no longer covered by your jeans, the detailing on the shoe has become more important.

Our flat shoes are more popular than our high heels and trainers (that now go well with almost any outfit) have taken off. We have many Japanese and African customers, yet currently only have stores in the UK, Paris and Dubai.”



“Our trademark Burberry check is obviously still very popular and has remained unchanged since the 1920’s when it was first used as lining for our trench coats. Scarves and wallets are our heritage. We change the colours on our shopfloor every month to keep things fresh. We’ve just launched a new men’s fragrance, Brit Rhythm, which has the Burberry check textured on the glass bottle. People come here and ask for specific items, especially people who fly through this terminal regularly. Airports are interesting as you can never tell a typical Burberry customer when everyone is wearing similar comfortable travelling clothes. If we don’t have  an item available we’ll order it and have it waiting for the same customer when he flies through this terminal the following week.


Miu Miu

“For autumn and winter we’re seeing matt colours appearing, such as grey, dark pink and beige – more natural and soft colours. These are different from our spring and summer colours of orange, pink and red. The palette is darkening for winter. Our handbags have a classical feel about them and have almost become jewellery. Some come with two straps – a leather, plain strap for daytime use and a Swarovski crystal strap for evening. The crystal strap also doubles up as a necklace, so the line between jewellery and accessory is truly becoming blurred. This bag is one of our bestsellers at the moment. Customers passing through the airport might also ask us for items they haven’t found at our other stores.”



“Preference for different styles depends which part of the world passengers have come from. We have many Chinese customers and they will go for some of the brighter colours. What some people forget about duty free areas is that you’re catering for global clients around the world, who might be going back to summer or winter. Our clientele are very much the Asian market at this airport and bright, happy colours are good sellers. We find they aren’t really interested in ‘trend’ colours but rather a consistent preference for what they’re used to, or have seen a celebrity wear.

Our typical Hèrmes client is still after our popular lines – scarves, ties, leather bags and belts. The Asian market is relatively new to upmarket brands and many are buying what they see advertised.”



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