TAIPEI, Taiwan — For devotees of Karl Lagerfeld, the ultimate fashion statement this year could be Fendi’s turquoise suede hybrid shirt-jacket. For some it could be his Mood Egg spoon holder. Or it may be a $5.7 million luxury penthouse in an industrial city in central Taiwan.
A Taipei-based developer is hoping the late Chanel and Fendi creative director will give them an edge over their competitors in appealing to Taiwan’s ageing generation of multimillionaire business owners following years of stagnant property prices.
In one of his first forays into architecture, Lagerfeld agreed in 2014 to design an apartment complex in Taichung City in collaboration with developer Jut Group. Slated for completion in 2022, the apartments will range in price from $1.1 million to almost $6 million for a 8900-square-foot penthouse.
Jut Group Vice Chairman Aaron Lee told Bloomberg they initially contacted Lagerfeld about the project in 2012 because they felt a fashion designer would carry broader name recognition than even some of the world’s better-known architects. He was involved in every aspect of the buildings’ design, according to Lee, from the architecture to the interiors.
“Women are the key decision makers when it comes to buying property,” Lee said in an interview earlier this month. “If an apartment designed by Chanel’s creative director can win over the women, there will be demand for it once it’s built.”
Lagerfeld died in February at the age of 85.
Taiwan is home to more than 1,500 people with more than $30 million in assets, the eighth-highest number of ultra-high net worth individuals in the world, according to Knight Frank’s 2019 wealth report. And Taiwan’s wealthy have a particular liking for real estate, owning 5.4 properties on average, ahead of 4 in Hong Kong and 4.6 in the Middle East, the report says.
After 10 years of gains, Taiwan’s property prices have stagnated since 2015, weighed down by lackluster economic growth and a population on the brink of shrinking, meaning the ranks of the ultra-wealthy are an increasingly important target clientele for developers.
“These business people don’t really know where else to invest,” Lee said. “The traditional way of thinking is, once you earn a bit of money, buy real estate. Not only is it a way to store wealth, some buy them for their children to live in later.”
By Chinmei Sung; editors: John Liu, Samson Ellis, Katrina Nicholas.