as the traditionalist market segment served by luxury brands start to waver in uncertainty, the great names with great stakes are reaching out to new markets. Yesterday’s skateboard kids are today’s spenders. Increasingly luxury brands have found themselves at a crossroads and what proves to make things difficult is the fact that these are no longer family held institutions with firm values and reputations, but rather simple businesses with shareholders and spreadsheets.
As a keen supporter of these institutions I’ve been wavering in my dedication to their legacy. So much water under the bridge; I still believe that they hold the aspirations of the best designers and craftsmen, but I cannot help wondering if their directions may get soured in the lasting financial pressures of competition and megalomania. the reputable family held establishments before them weathered these through innovation, reputation and sensation. Sometimes resulting in passionate soap operas of family treachery, murder or marriage and more often mere scandal or slander, but as I said, innovation, reputation and sensation. Corporate decision-making is so much less entertaining and can be so calculating, cold and heartless; creativity in the boardroom does often not translate to the runways.
The main streams of re-invention has seen the popular and cutting edge design motifs of graffiti artists and the likes apply themselves to artisinal brands, collaborations sprouting whole new collections of anti-luxury luxury, while on the other hand a lot of companies are digging deep into their dusty archives to resuscitate forgotten designs of their glamorous heyday. Some even attempt to do both. Could we be heading for a luxury brand mass suicide? The words bubble and collapse are not exclusive to property and banking only. Luxury has become commonplace and I’m not going into the affluenza debate but thanks to affordable-luxury there is now room for super-luxury, ultra-luxury and heaven knows what other superlative variation of luxury is on its way next season.
Since I have pronounced myself no fan of corporation luxury, I am bent to support creatives that either believe the same or just didn’t make the grade to go and work for the conglomerates. Whatever the case may be, I fear that if the markets do not support these valid designers also, we shall all soon dress in the same way; lets call it the you-know-who-niform. I am thrilled however by the momentum of the movement from grand to bespoke, it makes me feel as if there is hope yet. We will have to see if the globality of luxury brands does not turn into their own disability. While the eco-minded are screaming for bio-diversity, I say die or diversify!