Georgia Fendley reflects on a year that has redefined the true value of luxury: less is more, while honesty, quality and sustainability reign.
The events of the last 12 months mean there is no patience for anything other than honesty, quality and sustainability. Smoke-and-mirrors marketing and the economics of anxiety seem fragile in a world re-connected with self, an individualised appreciation of value and a genuine desire to see change-in-action.
At its most basic, this means the future of luxury will be focussed on quality, sustainability and purpose. Brands with these values at the heart of their business will find a magnified resonance with their consumers. Honest communication will gain more traction, the timeless product will be valued and innovation for positive impact will win new customers.
This is not being driven by the marketing departments of multi-nationals. It is not a trend; it is a movement. Slow but sure, a tide of realisation and re-prioritisation is taking place in the hearts and minds of consumers. This change happens first at an individual level, it gathers momentum and becomes a collective cultural conscience. A new context for business and consumption is impacting every one of us.
The movement might start slowly and in private, but it quickly gathers momentum. As critical mass is achieved, it will result in a sudden shift in perception. Every category will be impacted, and the luxury market is likely to experience these changes the most. Luxury items that were once lusted after will become uncomfortable to display, status will be indicated by a different set of signifiers, more complex, more coded but as sharply observed as ever.
What does this mean for our businesses? At Construct, we are observing an exaggeration of market dynamics with the most premium products and services performing better than those that are more mainstream. We are seeing a renewed interest in more discrete expressions of connoisseurship, as evidenced by the changes in the watch market, where dials are getting smaller again; and in the car market, where green credentials are the campaign headlines.
In fashion, a category that has always been a clear barometer of cultural conscience, uplifting vibes, comfort, the outdoors and craftsmanship are king. Homewares, beauty and wellbeing chime with this momentum and will continue to outpace other categories, while adventure and experience will benefit from resonance as well as a rebound born out of the enhanced value of freedoms lost and rediscovered.
And what does it mean for each of us? I can’t speak for anyone but myself. After all, this new dynamic is not about new seasons or being on-trend, it’s about lifelong passions, personal style and individuality. On a personal level, I have rediscovered my love for Church’s shoes through their collaboration with Noir Kei Ninomiya (sold out, of course). Why? The hypnotic promise of authentic, timeless craft and confident creativity existing harmoniously in an eminently practical (and comfortable) product.
I have enjoyed playing endlessly with Carolina Bucci’s Forte beads, creating my version of her genius concept: precious, hard-stone beads (think turquoise, amethyst and cornelian) to construct as bracelets and necklaces, strung on metallic cords with precious gold tips, threaded and re-threaded to match the day’s mood (or outfit).
I can’t wait to return to places that fill me with peaceful contentment, from Amangiri to The Anchorstone Café in Dittisham. (Who would have ever thought those two could co-exist in a single sentence!) And, I have watched and re-watched singer FKA Twigs’ mesmerising live performance at Valentino in January 2020. Emotional, powerful and somehow prophetic, it reminds me of the beauty of unforgettable moments we will hopefully soon be able to enjoy again.
In a nutshell, I have remembered I truly value nature, friends, family, my home, exceptional craft, timeless quality, those things that reflect my unique perspective and experiences I can connect with emotionally. Some brands seem to be in tune with this feeling, they have become part of my bubble and I am ignoring all the rest. What we all want now is less but the very, very best.