Janey Whiteside, Executive Vice President and General Manager American Expresss

Text Angelica Carrara

The overall spending for luxury increases fourfold compared to the expenditure rate for everyday-use goods. The expenditure of luxury airlines (business and first class tickets) increases by 12% compared to 5% in commercial transports (economy tickets). Luxury accommodations and cruises increase by 4% against 3%. Luxury fashion increases by 1%, compared to consumer fashion, which actually decreases by less than 4%. “The question s to do things, not to buy things”, says Janey Whiteside – Executive Vice President at American Express – while defining a luxury code.

Janey Whiteside was in Venice last weekend, on the occasion of the Business of Luxury Summit organized by the Financial Times. She resumed American Express in three  words: exclusivity, service and experience. This reminds me of a refrain of that song Love, sex, American Express – a piece sung by the Nigerian vocalist Dr. Feelx. “I’ve never heard of it before” comments Whiteside: “For a brand, the most important aspect is to be outstanding in culture, to have an aspirational meaning.”

Aspirational – the status of American Express. Established in Buffalo in 1850 by Henry Wells, William Fargo as a valuable transportation company, in 1891 it points out the first prepaid instrument of the history, the travellers cheque and in 1958, the first credit card, Amex. To travel – the world, the Internet, everywhere, safely. “From the beginning, it has been a matter of reliability – this identifies us as a brand”, again, Whiteside shows her ability to marry in the primary definition.

“Amex wants to make sure that you are safe.” Holly Golightly felt this while having breakfast at Tiffany & Co., the best place in the world where nothing wrong will happen, she said. Whiteside continues: “For me, here in Venice it is Cipriani. In New York it is Sant Ambroeus. American Express reproduces a safe place at global level in the places selected by its members.” In the desert, in Coachella, there’s the Platinum House, where one can soul-search and regenerate. The Platinum House of the last Art Basel Miami was a private dj-set for Drake and Virgil Abloh. In the Hamptons, it is possible to make a reservation at the Eleven Madison Park, the pop up of the much talked-about restaurant in New York signed by Humm-Guidara, only by American Express.

Swiping. The Millennials are the new big spenders in luxury. In 2017, in the U.S., more than half of new activations of American Express Platinum cards were carried out by guys aged between 18 and 25 who spend more than the adult generation. “I remember my first Amex at the end of the college, a legitimation. Independence and reliability in my hands. The new generation asks for more, and we offer an amplified experience. They are our veritable ambassadors.” Amex has recruited fifteen of them in a consultative committee, the Platinum Collective, established to inspire and inform the new members. This board includes the jewels designer Jennifer Fisher, Bronson van Wyck, designer of each event in New York City. Bazan from Thom Browne, Morgan Collett from Saturdays NYC and Kristen Maxwell Cooper from XO Group – among the others.

Janey Whiteside – Executive Vice President e General Manager, Global Premium Products e Benefits di American Express.