November 21st, 2023

Cara Turnbull

‘I think luxury would see itself as having a role as a culture generator. There is an experience without being a purchaser, and this idea of luxury being beyond price is absolutely fundamental’
- Helen Brocklebank, CEO, Walpole.

In this article we’ll be discussing….

  • How luxury is bridging the gap between consumer demographics.
  • The ‘less but better’ consumption mindset
  • Greenwashing in the luxury market

[Image Credit – Gucci Decor]

Status Signifiers

A high price point does not always indicate luxury. Consumers are shifting their perspective on what the true meaning of luxury is, as mentioned in our previous blog, and brands who aren’t traditionally labelled as luxury are repositioning themselves to adhere to this new definition of luxury.

Twisting Tradition

Heirlooms are no longer a thing of the past, with young connoisseurs taking an interest in intricate tableware and quirky centrepieces, the outdated timepieces are making a comeback. For Iconic brands such as Dior and Gucci, it’s a victorious moment allowing them to celebrate their heritage whilst catering to the young antique-obsessed consumers. As a result of this trend, dinner parties have resurfaced, not only for those special occasions but more so, romanticising modern everyday life. These performative behaviours have increased significantly with the rise of social media, becoming more a demonstration of connoisseurship publicly rather than the focus being on the people in the room. It is a more subtle way of demonstrating a glamorous lifestyle, a life value which was once logomania to previous affluents.

Even highstreet retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Primark are tapping into the trend with products reflecting that of a premium nature, think moulded glass and hand-painted China. With these products filtering into the Highstreet it’s no doubt that customers will be consumed by the trend. In this instance, the idea of luxury and exclusivity lies in the focus of the materials and craftmanship invested in the products, but with younger generations, the veil of social media is hiding these properties, providing their following with only a snapshot of their life which is just enough to paint a picture of a luxurious lifestyle.

[Image Credit: Gohar]

Certified Luxury

With the luxury market growing, hyper-real fakes in the global preloved market are expected to double by 2027, causing losses in all areas of the industry. The exclusivity that luxury retailers once provided are being over-consumed by counterfeits and unbranded duplicates. In correlation with the demand for luxury, the need for buyer protection and authentication is increasing as consumers are wanting certified luxury instead of insecurity with their pre-loved purchases.

In response to counterfeits, French fashion house Chloé have launched the first instant resale proposition, giving customers’ products unique ownership numbers and Digital IDs that prove its authentic status. Technology is growing, which means there are new ways of tracing garments through embedded technology and even further ways to detect counter-feits. In April of this year, LVMH-owned fashion house, Patou, and tech specialist, The Ordre Group, introduced ‘Authentique’ Verify’, an AI system that has the functions to detect imperfections that the naked eye can’t see, confirming the authenticity of a luxury product.

[Image Credit: Authentique Verify]

Safeguarding skills

Artisan and cultural techniques are celebrated by an array of brands within the luxury sector, paying homage to the traditions and heritage that shape luxury fashion houses. The modern interpretation of craftmanship promotes a rekindled respect for skilled workers, showing a building desire to safeguard trades which include tailoring, pattern making and leathermakers.

Retailers are showcasing their admiration for workmanship through championing the skills that goes into these products through craft-centric activations, sharing the limelight of luxury fashion with those at the core of the products. Experimental experiences within bricks-and-mortar retail allows the wider consumer to experience the value of luxury, bridging the gap between demographics.

In collaboration with Selfridges’ ‘#projectearth’, The Barbour factory, provides a circular, sustainable space for customers to recycle their preloved products through bespoke embroidery, re-waxing, and repair services.  The restoration programme aims for longevity of their products, upholding Barbour’s roots through repairing archival pieces and experimenting with the core elements of their DNA, wax, quilt, tartan, cord and brass metalware. Ian Bergin, Director of menswear, suggests that with each re-loved jacket comes with a plethora of experiences and adventures written into them, giving a new meaning to the garment and allowing consumers to write their own story.

[Image Credit: Barbour]

Tech-powered craft

Craftmanship relies on the artistry of manual labour, but, with the development of modern technology, tech can augment new creative possibilities. With fast-evolving tools at our disposal, luxury craft is leaning towards the experimentation of mixed-reality fabrication combined with examining phygital craftmanship, breaking the traditions of location specific luxury manufacturing and allowing the industry to experiment and write a new future where craft-machine-ship can shape new paths and augment human skills.

Syky Collective, founded by Ralph Lauren and Burberry alumni, established a digital metaverse to communicate new, digital innovations that will re-shape the luxury of tomorrow. By bridging real-life know-how with the digital-only marketplace creates assets from upcoming digital designers with opportunity to share, trade and showcase their designs with some of the top fashion houses and other reputable designers. Blending physical and digital fashion provides further chances for upcoming designers and allows them to become industry leaders with their innovative designs.

[Image Credit: Syky Collective]

Conservation champions

Whilst greenwashing is peaking and the scrutiny over sustainable claims is increasing, proactivity to protect the planet has its benefits and younger consumers are more engaged with issues of sustainability than their predecessors. Consumers are connecting more with brands who make a conscious effort towards environmental pursuits and acting as guardians of the eco-systems. For luxury brands, it’s crucial that they approach sustainable practices the right way to attract and retain the sustainability-focused consumers. This also extends to sustainability in retail and brands must work hard to ensure their conceptual design reflects their view on eco-conscious practices.

Spring of this year, LVMH-owned fragrance brand, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, opened the perfumer’s garden – an astonishing nursey, home to an accumulation of plants and blooms used within their fragrances. LVMH transformed the renown gardens at the Palace of Versailles into a luxurious library of aromas, cultivating awareness of the history of scent at the court of Versailles.

‘Jardin du Parfumeur’ is an advocate for the 17th century craft. With years dedicated to bringing this garden to life, the grounds are made up of three unique areas; ‘the garden of curiosities’, ‘under the trees’ and ‘the secret garden’ which all possess distinct qualities through their atmospheric aroma. Accessible workshops in garden introduce a deeper understanding of the olfactory experience, with guided tours teaching visitors about the art of perfumery and the skills and knowledge within it, all with an underlying focus on sustainability.

[Image Credit: Palace Versailles]

Couture Culture

Haute couture is not limited to fashion, it also extends to the ‘premium-ised’ offerings of personalised goods and services, complimenting those wanting to live the lavish luxury lifestyle. Accounting for a modest amount of the luxury revenue, couture has traditionally shaped the exclusivity and heritage nature of the sector, outlining exactly what luxury means. But, with the current context of economic instability and the ‘less but better’ consumption mindset, luxury brands are aiming to be more inclusive within their ranges, intertwining new and old.

Cultural and historic conversations are taking place creating a breeding ground for vintage fashion houses, providing the opportunity to stay relevant amongst new demographics whilst still serving their loyal top-spending consumers with their hyper-exclusive collections. Following the shadows of Prada, Gucci and Balmain, Saint Laurent announces the creation of their fine jewellery collection. The timeless pieces are made from recycled gold and silver, promoting their eco-friendly commitment to finding sustainable alternatives.

[Image Credit: British Vogue]

Key Takeaways

  • Economic instability requires accessible offerings.
  • Craft-centric activations capture the essence of luxury fashion.
  • Modern technology can and will augment new creative possibilities.

Looking to join the future of luxury?

For 2023 and beyond, luxury companies must think beyond product development and become community builders and socials coordinators to offer their clients with the rarest or most immersive moments. We can offer the framework for luxury businesses to establish and cement more meaningful relationships with their consumers through the art of physical retail.

Let’s talk