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.”
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion