Wheels Up launches merchandise sales

By Doug Gollan, October 27, 2022

Is the runway to profits for Wheels Up in the Luxury Apparel section of Nieman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue?

Founder and Chairman Kenny Dichter always likes to present Wheels Up as an aspirational brand, comparing private aviation to polo and pointing out the vast majority of folks who wear Ralph Lauren’s Polo brand have never climbed on a horse.

Now it appears Wheels Up could be testing its brand as a fashion statement by selling logo apparel.

It’s what is described as a “new limited capsule collaboration with Malbon Golf, the lifestyle brand inspired by the game of golf.”

However, Chief Marketing Officer Lee Applbaum tells us, “We are so fortunate to have an admired and iconic brand that members, consumers, and aspirational private fliers actively want to engage with.”

He says, “Wearing branded merchandise is one way in which they show their support. It is also a great vehicle for organic branding and earned media.”

Historically, Wheels Up merchandise has been available to members, company employees, or gifted at events and activations.

Applbaum says that has made its logo “even more coveted,” adding, “We know there is a real opportunity to engage with more consumers, and are exploring how we can make branded merchandise more widely available for purchase while preserving brand integrity and exclusivity.”

Prior to joining the private aviation provider, Applbaum helped Patron to a $5.1 billion purchase by Bacardi.

The Wheels Up collection launched this morning.

The collection includes golf bags, polos, sweaters, and more. Prices range from $50 to $425.

A spokesperson says Wheels Up and Malbon plan to release a women’s collection in the future.

The launch of this collection is one of several bespoke apparel capsule collections, including with RedVanly and Legends.

The private aviation flight provider also plans to launch an online store for members and employees to purchase merchandise directly from various capsule collections.

The runway to profits?

According to Vogue, the move into fashion may not be a bad idea.

The bible of style notes, “The (fashion) industry standard for a profit margin is between a 2.2 and 2.5x markup, meaning a dress that cost a designer $100 to produce might be sold to a retailer for $220. That retailer has to mark it up by 2.2x again to make its own profit, bringing the final price up to $484.”

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