How does a luxury brand cope when luxury is seen as a stigma?
As the reality of the economy sinks even deeper into consumer consciousness, the concept of luxury has gone from a badge of honor to a private indulgence. While there are some who continue to purchase designer bags and shoes with four-digit price tags, many consumers have said it somehow feels wrong to shop — even if their wallets haven’t thinned out.
The turning of the tide — no matter how long it lasts — is creating concern among industry executives. Last month, a group of senior executives from luxury brands that included Graff, Loro Piana, Ferrari and NetJets gathered privately to discuss how to continue to promote their respective brands and break the current perception that luxury is a dirty word in times like these.
Part of the problem, according to Karl Lagerfeld, is that the meaning of luxury had become distorted.
“The word [luxury]…was used for things it was never related to,” the designer said. “It became nearly obscene. Now it has to change…and go back to what it used to be about — discretion and elegance, and not bling-bling. The hint of vulgarity has to go. The luxury business will never die. Luxury is about quality, refinement, innovation, and not about price.”
Lagerfeld also abhors stinginess, which he calls a terrible vice that often emerges in times of crisis among well-heeled people. “The money has to go out the window to come back through the door,” he said.
Frédéric De Narp, president and chief executive officer of Cartier in North America, said there has been a crossover and confusion between trendy fashion and true luxury in the past several years among consumers and brands.
“Fashion is of the moment and not timeless,” he said, noting that communicating Cartier’s quality and heritage is of utmost importance. “True luxury should be timeless. Cartier has never compromised on that. When you’re talking about translating your important sentiments into objects, quality will always sell.”
Paco Underhill, managing director of consultant Envirosell and author of “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping,” said consumers can be divided into three groups: the downwardly mobile, those who are or know someone at fiscal risk and those who remain wealthy but feel fashion or luxury consumption is bad manners right now.
“There’s a fundamental issue here in which so many Americans have no grasp on their personal finances,” said Underhill. “That whole affordable luxury category was based on people spending money where they shouldn’t have. One of the fundamental issues we have in our culture is who can afford what.”
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye