Custom made goods seen defying downturn

Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:48pm EST
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By David Brough

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - At the height of the financial crisis, a German woman spends 18,000 pounds ($26,770) on a specially ordered, hand-crafted crocodile backgammon set at luxury goods store William & Son in trendy Mayfair.

The sleek black design, with white crocodile points, matches the interior of her husband's super-yacht.

A few days later, a British banker, apparently oblivious to the financial storm swirling around his industry, walks into the boutique and forks out 12,000 pounds on a Audemars Piguet wrist-watch.

Five minutes' walk away, at Van Cleef & Arpels on Bond Street, Mayfair's fine jewelry quarter, another London financier spends 250,000 pounds on a necklace.

Even though the world is on course for a recession, demand for the most exclusive of luxury items appears resilient in London, particularly for so-called "bespoke" - or custom-made -- goods, luxury executives say.

Bespoke items range from tailored suits to specially commissioned fine jewels, silverware, guns and mobile phones.

London is one of the world's top shopping capitals for luxury goods, attracting high net-worth tourists from around the world.

So far, as Christmas approaches, the signs are that despite Britain's rapidly souring economy, demand for top-tier luxury is defying the slowdown.   Continued...