Luxury Fashion; Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Gucci and Prada. These are the most renowned, luxury fashion labels known across the entire world. Whether it is from walking down Rue du Faubourg Sait-Honore in Paris, or through Mong Cock’s knock-off market in Hong Kong, these brands are everywhere, and they are known by everyone.
So what drives this market to be one of the most profitable in the world? Desire. Since the nineteenth century we have seen a correlation of material goods and social status. Once it was thought the more you had, the wealthier you were. However, over time as brands began to develop and iconic products were being produced things changed. Conspicuous consumption arose, which essentially defined a direct link of social status and visible consumption, and made room for the luxury fashion industry to move in and explode.
The most commercially viable Luxury Fashion brands are not necessarily the most expensive. The term luxury itself is highly elusive and in essence revolves around subjective criteria. Luxury Fashion brands are not truly about the product or service they are providing, it is about the social status that comes with the product. Universally, all luxury brands have commonalities; rarity of the product, does the brand hold pedigree and does it firmly portray a lifestyle? Many luxury brands only produce a limited amount of their product, quite often under-producing in order to create an anticipation for the product and a waiting period. Many luxury brands hold pedigree by telling a story; Tiffany & Co. are a shining example of a brand with an extensive history that can be accessed through their website. They have created a timeline of their impact on ‘love stories,’ and explore the founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany’s affliction for diamonds.
Every luxury brand is successful in portraying a particular lifestyle, however, Louis Vuitton has not been on top for decades for no reason. The brand embodies exclusivity and wealth, whilst simultaneously remaining cool and chic by including the likes of Michelle Williams into their advertising campaigns. Gary Harwood from HKLM, one of the world’s leading branding and communication design consultancy’s defines the parameters of the luxury fashion industry perfectly.
“A luxury brand is very expensive, exclusive and very rare- not meant for everyone. When it ceases to be these things, then it’s lost its exclusive cachet. Commoditising luxury brands and making them more accessible to the middle market puts them at rick of becoming ordinary, common and less desirable. And the more available a brand is, the less luxurious it becomes.”
It is truly, no simpler than that. The industry relys on advertising, marketing and branding above anything else. It would not be difficult to market a below par product as an revolutionary, exclusive, expensive item with the branding gurus that run this world.
Roumeliotis, J.D 2012. Unconventional Business Wisdom for the refined entrepreneurial mindset – by James D. Roumeliotis, http://jdrazure.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/luxury-vs-premium-vs-fashion-clarifying-the-disparity/.
Berry, J 2014. Luxury Fashion, Week 13:Luxury Fashion, page 6, accessed 22 August 2014,https://bblearn.griffith.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-1010418-dt-content-rid-2625158_1/courses/2432QCA_3145_SB/Course%20Content/Week%2013%20Luxury%20Fashion/Luxury%20%26%20Globalisation.pdf