Fashion Week Brand Strategy Ikea

Why Ikea is ‘curious’ to break boundaries of fashion and furniture


By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

February 28, 2024 | 7 min read

The Swedish flat-packer has been playing on the periphery of fashion, but now it is ready to put its stake in the ground with an all-encompassing event during Paris Fashion Week event.

Poster for Ikea's fashion week event

Ikea opens four-day fashion week event / Ikea

Ikea is to open its doors on 28 Rue de Lappe for its first-ever Paris Fashion Week event to see if it really has a place in the fashion world.

The four-day event kicks off on February 29 and will showcase portraits shot by American photographer Annie Leibovitz alongside design projects from up-and-coming talent. The space will also host talks and feature live music performances by emerging artists cherry-picked by Rinse Radio. Ikea didn’t neglect its famed meatballs; the space includes a restaurant that will serve a French spin on Swedish classics.

Ikea’s global communications manager, Belén Frau Uriarte, is behind the project. She says the activation is a “brand statement on how Ikea wants to be close to people and play a part in culture.”

It’s not Ikea’s first time showing up in fashion. In 2020, it dropped a 10-piece clothing line in response to a bizarre fashion trend for Ikea uniforms and accessories made from its iconic blue bags. Then there was the trolling of Balenciaga after the luxury atelier debuted a $3,000 blue bag in 2018 reminiscent of Ikea’s, then more recently with its £16 towel skirt.

Model wearing an Ikea Towel next to a model wearing Balenciaga

“Ikea is always trying to be a little bit different; curious and see if it can break this boundary between design and fashion. Since it believes that self-expression starts at home, we see that relationship can be interesting,” says Frau Uriarte.

The lines between industries are blurred now and brands need to start reflecting this, says Frau Uriarte. “I don’t see my life as this is fashion, this is music and this design, you tend to mix and this is what life is about. You listen to the right music while you cook food. When I think of my real life, how is that mix of music, food, fashion and life at home really creating an impact on my life.”

The fashion week activation was inspired by the statistic that 48% of people globally do not feel that their life at home is represented in the media, which was uncovered in Ikea’s annual Life at Home Report.

“You look at magazines and say yes, these are beautiful houses, but you must ask who lives here? Where do you put your things?” says Frau Uriarte. It was Ikea’s ambition to get a better understanding of people’s home lives around the world and then showcase that so people feel better represented.

“Life at home is very challenging and I don’t need to tell you about the complexity and especially the economic challenges that we have. We thought it’s a great moment to also bring some inspiration and some positivity into how we envision the future of life at home.”

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Why, then, did Ikea commission Leibovitz, who is best known for capturing celebrity? “Annie has always photographed the best, the brightest award-winning people and the icons. We thought this was also a way to democratize and bring everyday people and everyday homes to enjoy that treatment.” The collection includes portraits of 25 different families in their own homes across seven countries.

People in a houseshare at home

To feed into Ikea’s purpose strategy, it has created a six-person mentorship program with Leibovitz for young photographers. “She has been traveling around the world and capturing real people and their lives at home and, building on that, we thought of how we could pass on her knowledge and talent.”

Ikea has also partnered with the free fashion program Casa 93, which offers free fashion courses to students. Again, six mentorship schemes have been set up for fashion students to learn from Ikea designers. “Casa 93 is quite unique in how it is challenging rules,” she adds. There are further collaborations with Raw Colour, a design group that advocates for color’s impact on mental health and then the radio station tie-up with Rince.

Making the event accessible and a place for up-and-coming talent, not just established designers, was crucial Frau Uriarte says. “Ikea is very well known for design but also for democratizing design; its vision is to create a better life for the many, and that is about making design accessible for the many, and not for the few,” she explains. “Throwing open our doors and making the event accessible for anyone that has a passion for style for interiors, or home or all of it.”

Ultimately, it was “curiosity” that brought Ikea to 28 Rue de Lappe. “Let’s test what it is to be in fashion week and let’s see if there is that relationship. There is a little bit of daring to be different; this is one of Ikea’s values; we always say that we want to be different but with meaning.

“Ikea has always been very curious and always trying new things to stay relevant and continue to add value."

Fashion Week Brand Strategy Ikea

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