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Future Luxe

To help figure out what's next in the Land of Luxe, WWD asked designers to peer into their crystal balls.

Where do we go from here? Luxury has boomed for the last two decades—from the latest musthave handbag or shoe to elaborate diamond watches and the most pampering vacations. To help figure out what’s next in the Land of Luxe, WWD asked designers to peer into their crystal balls.

Giorgio Armani
“I see a future increasingly driven by personalization and customization, not just in the way clothes and accessories are designed and produced to individual customer specifications, but also in the way the customer is served. Handheld technology and the Internet will play a significant part in this development, through which customers will receive very personalized information from their own dedicated sales associate remotely, with visual proposals provided through the season in a nonintrusive way. Service at the place of work or home will become more a part of client expectations. And this overall evolution will be seen across the spectrum from fast fashion on up.”

Ralph Lauren
“This is an exciting and creative time for the luxury industry and for designers. As more people discover what luxury means to them, we will see an expanded market and audience.”

Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel
“[The fabric future is] influenced by all the new technologies. ‘Marketing’ and ‘brand building’ are words I never use. I go [along] with the times and time tells us what to do. The future is when? It has now [become] an industry, like cars and planes!”

Donna Karan
“Luxury is all about the personal touch. It’s not just about clothes. It’s understanding the consumer, from their family to their philanthropic interests and what they care about most. Retailers are the conduit between the designer and the consumer, offering guidance and a context to their needs, wants and desires.”

Donatella Versace
“My look to the future is a look that’s concentrated on tomorrow’s fashion, tomorrow’s style and tomorrow’s luxury. There is no reference to the past, but a continuing attention or wanting to capture the elegance that is to come…the elegance of the future.”

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Dolce & Gabbana
“We are already experimenting, thanks to fabrics and innovative techniques, without ever forgetting our roots and style. We think it is fundamental to always respect one’s DNA when it comes to building a proper identity that the consumer will remember, and this is the reason for choosing one brand over another. The consumer needs to be surprised and supported with a vast and continuous flow of clothes.”

Diane von Furstenberg
“I think in the near future stores will have to carry more new designers and young brands. I think buyers should be allowed to be real merchants again and not only bookkeepers…emotion and dreams must come back to the floors and impulse buying and love of shopping will grow.”

Christian Lacroix
“Still progressing toward new fibers, both practically and ecologically correct, alongside traditional deluxe textiles, arty and modern, with a classic hand but creative aspect. The ideal might be a technical one—a thermo-regulator, for instance—with a new aspect and touch.

“Fake luxe is over. You can’t confuse real luxe [with] quick returns on investments and mass products. Genuine luxe needs time and space. It can’t be affordable to everyone. But we have to create another kind of desirable product, with high quality design, connected to today’s [lifestyle].”

Alber Elbaz, Lanvin
“What defines luxury today is the question that interests me the most. Once you have had a logo bag, where do you go from there? I’m looking for an emotional value. Whether it’s a dress, a shoe, a bag or a piece of jewelry, I want it to touch me, just as when I go to see a movie or hear a piece of music, I want it to make me laugh or cry. I’m not interested in facades anymore.”

Christopher Bailey, Burberry
“Luxury to me can be broken down into two categories. It is either something that you aspire to have in your life, for example more time to do the things you enjoy doing with the people you love to be with, or otherwise something that you do not necessarily need but would love to have, own or experience—a unique or ‘special’ piece, a trip or a remarkable environment.

“Luxury needs to seduce, inspire and offer something that we do not necessarily have in our lives at that moment. I therefore believe that ‘luxury’ is not necessarily a financial implication but is a state of mind that is open to everybody and anybody. I also feel that we are living in a society that allows us all to dream for the impossible, whether it be materialistic, a career, an attitude or a moment.

“I imagine that over the next years, this frame of mind will accelerate and, through consumerism, will thrive with bigger, better, faster products and experiences. We will also see a more thoughtful and respectful society questioning more about social ethics, environmental issues, longevity and integrity.”

Alberta Ferretti
“I feel that I owe it to the Alberta Ferretti customer to constantly renew and invigorate the brand. I spend a great deal of time on fabric research and hope to provide new and exciting fabrics, shapes and workmanship each season. We also continue to develop our industrial capabilities at the Aeffe group, and in this way, our state-of-the-art production facilities can meet the needs of a very competitive and fast-changing marketplace. We will also bring our brand directly to the consumer through a combination of mono-brand store openings and directly managed online and e-commerce initiatives.”

Cynthia Rowley
“With stores like H&M, Kohl’s and Target doing fashion, the only way to distinguish designer clothes from mass will be the quality of the fabrics and tailoring—and also an original, signature print.”

Nicole Miller
‘The Internet is a great convenience, but I hope online shopping never replaces stores. I have memories of going shopping when I was growing up, and I still love to meet a friend for lunch and go shopping afterward. Seeing clothes in person, trying them on, touching the fabric—I would be disappointed if people missed out on that experience in the future.”

Zac Posen
“Fashion is originality, timelessness, quality and rarity. Fashion will always have value and will define luxury in the years to come. As trend becomes more financially available and product distribution becomes more widespread and readily available, luxury fashion needs to up its game. The future of fashion and what defines luxury will continue to expand into multiversed lifestyle products with the extreme growth of a competitive market, including lower-priced lines.

“I believe that eco-friendly fabrics will find themselves [desirable] as the trends toward synthetic or natural fibers fluctuate. In fashion and luxury, it’s imperative that the customer has a visceral reaction to the product and the person behind the product. Quality, originality and human service will be the crucial definition of luxury in years to come. The future of brand building is the customer’s feeling of inspiration and aspiration to be close to the brand.”

Behnaz Sarafpour
“In the foreseeable future, at least, I think the way women have become accustomed to shopping will continue to affect how designers work. More frequent smaller collections that keep a continuous flow of new product coming into stores becomes more important all the time. The main spring and fall runway seasons are not as much the last word in terms of selling. Resort and pre-collections are going to be even stronger supplements. In terms of design, we are challenged with having to be even more creative with materials and details, as the market for counterfeit fashions has increased.”

Paulo Melim Andersson, Chloé
“Finding new values in old taboos: polyester and acetate were once taboo and have now become highly sophisticated. There are Japanese polyesters that are more cottonlike than true cotton.”

Derek Lam
“In a time when virtually everything is obtainable at a mere tap of our fingertips without ever leaving our homes, luxury will be more defined by what is rare, unique and authentic. Luxury now and in the future goes beyond the mere accumulation of beautiful clothing or fine art, but more important, it is, and will continue to be, an intimate dialogue between like-minded souls in a fragmented yet interconnected world.”

Vivienne Westwood
“A lot of people on the street look boring. They are lazy in their dress and take no time to express themselves through clothes. Minimalism in dress is a dominant force because people are so afraid of committing an error in taste. They would prefer to stay nothing in their clothes than to make a mistake. My clothes allow someone to be truly individual. They are also antiestablishment. Establishment is a grayishness. ‘Let it be, let it all be as it is at the moment. I am fine as I am. I like to look as everybody else.’ In designing my clothes, I offer people a choice. There is no more strong blasting activity than to offer people a choice. Choice is luxury.”

Albert Kriemler, Akris
“The concept of luxury is ubiquitous. I process that notion by creating a collection that always has a modern relevancy—a continuation of architectural elements, the right proportions and materials. For Akris, fabric is fundamental. It is the point from which I begin every collection. Always core to the collection are exclusive fabrics that provide the perfect [sensation] against the skin—for myself and those who appreciate fashion not only with their eyes, but with other senses, understanding that sensation is the greatest luxury. In terms of communicating the message, it will always be about straight-forwardness and authenticity. The intelligent, global client is discerning.”

Carmen Marc Valvo
“As virtual reality becomes a greater part of our lives, I believe the future of fashion and true luxury will be defined by the organic nature of artisanal craftsmanship.”

Giambattista Valli
“I see the fabrics going in two fundamental but complementary directions: one functional and technological, hooked to the everyday wardrobe, and another emotional, [involving] a reinterpretation of historical…couture fabrics…that can [affect] the shape or volume of a dress. “I deeply think that mass production will stop, and I consider the future of luxe [will be linked to] a more specific style, and [will be] individually recognizable. We are coming back to the essence of luxury: Less is more.”

Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, Marchesa
“We believe that focusing on our current collections, as well as remaining open to new possibilities, will pave the way for the future. Perfecting one’s craft will always be the successful foundation to any brand.”

Clare Waight Keller, Pringle
“I’ve read that, in the future, price points will become less relevant as people’s wealth compounds. That will certainly make designers more confident—and encourage them to be more individual and outlandish, and less commercial. And I think customers will increasingly be looking for that ‘choice piece.'”