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.worth: On The New Luxe

Thursday, Nov 25, 2010, 12:16 PM



.worth is a new series on the TribaSpace Blog that reflects upon changing views on the traditional notion of luxury. When does our “dot-com”munity begin to permeate the value of things in a tangible industry?

In the middle of a staggering economic crisis, when most of us are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating the value of things, luxuries can seem like, well, luxuries: superfluous, excessive, frivolous and beside the point. Patience Wheatcroft wrote this week on WSJ online, “Frugalism is in fashion”. This statement points to the ultimate truth of what we already know: the idea of luxury as we know it has come to an end.

Despite the strong notes of austerity in the air, we will still stop at nothing to look good, feel sexy and continue to have all the stuff that makes us feel comfortable and powerful.

Here are a few basic tenets of luxury, some of which I’ve paraphrased from Agenda Inc.’s beautifully written articles of faith.

  1. Luxury items and experiences cost a lot of money.
  2. Luxuries are rare and difficult to obtain.
  3. Luxury products, by sheer virtue of their luxuriousness, can transcend markets, categories and changing economic circumstances.
  4. A luxury affirms our standing and sense of self within our societal groupings.
  5. Luxury possesses a dimension of time and timelessness: consider time itself as a luxury.

There are many more truisms about the nature of luxury floating around, but these five are a good start for our purposes. As we sort out the countless shortages coming at us down the line, be they economic, environmental or of a less tangible nature, our sense of what’s abundant and delicious changes. Our sense of luxury becomes decoupled from excess. We seek things, brands, experiences that express singularity, uniqueness and above all, quality.

Rough Luxe is the flagship website of the emerging Rough Luxury movement. It is essentially a guide to unique retailers, hotels and experiences that offer something beyond comfort and status. At the core of Rough Luxe’s philosophy is this: “luxury is an enriching personal experience and not only an ownership of an expensive object”.

The point of .worth is to look at the new ideas about luxury. How luxury brands are adapting to these changes, and how we as consumers change our ideas about what is luxurious in times of uncertainty. At the center of this conversation is the notion that luxury is no longer about high-flying displays of wealth and excess à la Alexis Carrington, but about something that suggests permanence, timelessness and authenticity.

As Gérald Cohen, the Parisian fashion publicist for Éclaireur and TOD’S, told TribaSpace in an interview last month, “The very word, luxury, has been tarnished. New brands are launching products that are more creative and of better quality, and the word quality will soon replace luxury”.

Catherine Levy | TribaSpace

Interested in reading more stories like this? Keep an eye on the TribaSpace Magazine:

Product Groups: Representation, Textiles, Couture, Footwear, Buying, Fabrics, Sales, Casual Wear, Production, Creation, Ready-to-Wear, Consulting
Markets: Other, Children's, Men's, Women's

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