“I think I’m going to get myself that new Virgil duffle from Louis V for my footie gear,” said one of the jocks. “Bro, I saw that at Harrods last month, it’s sick! I just got the off white kicks from the latest drop, check it out! (Flaunting shoe).” Walking down my school hallway 10 years after graduation, everything seemed the same, except for the passing conversations! In my time, we were thinking about our next trip to the movies, not our next designer bag.
The term luxury has had a very constant meaning until the millennials came along. Unattainable, rare, supremely expensive, not accessible to everyone, were a few adjectives that came to mind when one thought of luxury a few decades ago.
However, today, the term has blurry edges. Whether it’s the changing mindsets and values of consumers, an entire digital world to influence them or easier access and collaborations between high fashion and high street brands, the face of luxury is changing. So, how are brands with hundreds of years of heritage keeping their appeal high while still adapting with the times?
As a younger age group makes for a vital segment of luxury consumers today, the brands too are taking a different route to woo them. While brands are becoming more accessible and increasing their reach to a larger audience and possibly creating future consumers with bridge lines and collaborations with mass brands such as H&M and Supreme, they are also constantly working on keeping the undercurrent of exclusivity to retain their loyal clientele. Whether it’s a 25-year-old fashion influencer or a 55-year-old watch connoisseur, there’s one thing they’re both looking for – something rare, personal and one-of-a-kind!
In fact, with the number of luxury products out there and the easy access, exclusivity plays a larger role in luxury today than it ever has, and brands are working hard to give their consumers what they’re looking for!
Personally, I’m always looking for pieces I know will be sold out fast; something that my friends are unlikely to own. When it comes to gifting, I prefer items that are one-of-a-kind. I usually pick a classic brand such as a Goyard or a Louis Vuitton (a brand with a strong heritage and recall value) but I will make sure I have it monogrammed, or custom painted.
Gucci now provides a DIY service, which allows their customers to add luxe crystal encrusted hardware, monogrammed initials, trims and embroideries to bags, sneakers and ready to wear garments.
When I posted stories from the DIY pop-up in Mumbai, there was a very high level of interest shown by my followers.
Another rage right now is the ABCDior service offered by Dior, which offers the possibility of embroidering one’s name on the Dior book tote. They started doing this at pop-ups in stores across the world. Over time, however, its demand grew so much that it is a permanent service offered at select Dior stores now!
Mine, however, is the Hermès Sur-Mesure – it’s a hush-hush special projects’ division, where one can place an order for pretty much anything under the sun in exotic materials preferred by him/ her. The brand takes the customer through a step-by-step process, where the customer is involved with the sketches and is also shown prototypes. From Hermes boxing gloves to hot air balloons, you can have anything you like, at a very high price, of course; a price that hasn’t been revealed by the brand, because well, that’s the Hermès way of doing things.
While the fashion brands are going all out with customization services, beauty brands aren’t far behind. Brands such as Lancôme are now using technology to scan a variety of skin metrics such as skin tones, oil levels, etc, to create bespoke foundations and customized bottles, all in a couple of minutes.
But I wonder, how long until personalisation isn’t a big deal? Is it reaching a saturation point? What more can brands do to stay exclusive and maintain a sense of aspiration?
(Sonam Babani is a prominent figure in the Indian luxury fashion and travel industry. Going by the name Fashioneiress, Sonam has been blogging for over three years and has a strong following of 61 k + digitally. She is also a style consultant to celebrities, and is currently working on growing her footprint in the industry by moving into the retail space.)