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Jeffrey Miller: Ex-equilibrio

Date: 7th Oct 07

I am not exactly clear how I came to speak to or for brands in the explosive marketplace of the Luxury Industry over the past 10 years, everything seemed to happen so fast. By now, the Luxury Industry (still a favorite oxymoronic catchphrase amongst my civilian friends) has not only insinuated its products and values into a large swathe of the global community, but has even come to characterise the ‘Wired Years’, which will perhaps be looked back upon with irony after we clear the daunting hurdle of 2012 on the Mayan calendar (December 21 is believed to be Judgement Day). What might happen in the next five years to allow for our species’ survival?
The hope is that prosperity and sustainability form a lasting relationship that produces the love child of a mannered lifestyle of exquisite pleasure. There are signs that inception is underway. And any sensitive stewardship of this robust young industry, especially at this time of transition from mere excess to abundance and satiety, might even have pleased the prescient Mayans, whose descendants outside the gates of spa resorts are no doubt themselves sporting D&G shades.
I say young industry, which may be true of it, but luxury itself is as old as the hills, something of which we now only occasionally are reminded when a creative director chooses to raid the archives – always in a relentless effort to increase margins and exploit ready markets – while somehow the pomp and the personal, the breathtaking irreproachability, have been bred out of luxury, all on our watch. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to provide an epilogue to the story of luxury rather than merely a denouement.
And what better opportunity to fathom such a thing than here within the elegant pages of the revamped Luxury Briefing, industry enchiridion? Did Tom Ford, outgrowing his Pampers 15 years ago at Gucci when it was still a dysfunctional family dynasty, understand that he was about to become an industry catalyst simply by doing what came naturally to him, ie presenting sex, celebrity, rock and roll in the luxury setting? As this paradigm becomes increasingly played-out, even urgently stale, one can only encourage colleagues to share their ideas for change and progress, for industry salvation even. I have ideas to share – we all do – on focusing and perfecting product rather than infinitesimal brand-extending, on better responding to and educating core customers rather than chasing and exploiting new shoppers, on better packaging and shipping guidelines, on corporate investment in sustainability and charity initiatives that would burnish brand identity with a patina of virtue. Who knows, some of these ideas may just resonate in a world where hardly anything can still impress. And therein lies the monkey-puzzle for luxury industrialists: how can we continue to outdo ourselves without the undoing of us all?

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