Updated: Jul 24, 2020
Keeping the immense heritage and history of a brand, alive and relevant, is an art, and a responsibility. Having seen the archives and ateliers of Christian Dior, Fendi, Chanel's Maison Lesage, in person, I can see how it is not simple to take something from the archives and reinvent it keeping the original craftsmanship alive, especially when there are not many of the next generation to pass it down to, who want to learn the ropes of the savoir-faire and take it forward.
Creative Directors take turns to recreate the magic, the excitement and the past. Always beautifully done with such immersive experiences, so thrilling, I have been mesmerised everytime. But it has also been overdone, season after season, and I am not quite sure how much at all, of the 'unforgettable' shows and collections, one remembers.
The pandemic brought the world to a standstill. A domino effect that is reverberating in every industry.
The fashion & luxury industry was screaming for change. With an overdose of exclusivity, social media interactions and influencers. Of collections, launches and extravagant shows.
It was tiring to keep up. I stopped putting pressure on myself to keep up.
Fashion was dying and luxury was reeling under the pressure of keeping the heritage alive.
We are all part of the shift that is being blown in by the winds of change now. (Hello digital Paris Haute Couture day 1)
But that is not the only change. Luxury goods may cease to exist as status symbols going forward.
I had started writing but never actually got down to putting it together. This time that has been thrown my way, made me pick it up from where I left off, but with a new perspective, a vision and a determination to act on the much-needed transformation.
The Hermes Flagship store reopening in China, after a lockdown of almost three months, saw $2.7mn sales in a day. It is being called Revenge Spending.
It is evident I suppose that the luxury goods market, although not recession proof, recovers quickly.
I think the world has been on a superfast train headed nowhere. I have been on that train. We are waiting for the pandemic to pass, hopefully not to jump back on that train again.
This time has pushed me to revisit some of my experiences from my school in Milan, to delve deeper into brands and feel what I really want to do going forward.
I started paying more attention. I saw younger brands, no matter what their size or heritage, bringing conscious consumption, seasonless collections and a true vision of appreciating the time and beauty to create, to the forefront.
From sourcing and raw materials to the customer experience with these brands, I see an honest, authentic approach, a real transparency. They are sustainable in what they do, promoting circularity, not exorbitantly priced and nor do they believe in having to go on sale every time the weather changes.
I find them to be truly exclusive, because the same product or piece is not made and moved around in thousands. Needless to say, I see them effortlessly diverse and inclusive in the manner they operate, communicate and in the realtime connection with people.
They are changing the meaning of what is typically associated with luxury. Calling them Nouveau Luxury sounds like a cliche, but relevant.
The luxury industry has built its foundation on the growing income disparity, on a certain elitism. It may not have been necessarily how it started. It was originally built on impeccable craftsmanship, exquisite materials and a deep rooted love and respect for tradition. The savoir-faire, the stories of generations, the immense capability of creating fantasy and romanticism, draw me to it.
Truth is that the idea of luxury is built on, selling aspiration.
The goods of these beautiful heritage brands, with incredible founding stories, or the buyers, are not the cause of concern. The foundation on which they have been built upon, in the recent past, is.
What would you find if you scratched the surface? How diverse, inclusive, transparent or sustainable are they? Are they exclusive, or elusive? How sensitive are they when it comes to marketing messages around a culture, the same culture that spends $7bn a year on luxury goods?
In the recent wake of racism and discrimination, many skeletons of many brands came out of the closet. It is disheartening to see diversity and inclusivity as words used only on the surface and thrown around for convenience.
Disheartening more so, because they are revered, they have the power (and hopefully the leadership) to drive change, speak up and be bolder than the images they put out.
These brands have stood the test of time and are respected for their history, their respect for artisans and the way they have evolved or adapted to changing times.
(Have you seen Balmains show, presenting 75 years of couture, on the Seine? Olivier Rousteing's point was to spread beauty and love)
I remember what Carlo Rivetti, the CEO of Stone Island, when asked, said to us, that he didn't believe in the need to promote sustainability or diversity because it was understood that it is the only way to be doing things.
It is probably the most trying time for the fashion industry but also one that resets it. Renewed mindsets to what fashion really is. Fashion is not, pressure to create every season or every few weeks. Saint Laurent has stated “Now more than ever, the brand will lead its own rhythm, legitimating the value of time and connecting with people globally by getting closer to them in their own space and lives.”
That is true luxury. The luxury of time, of following your rhythm and real connections. Especially in the world we live in today!
It has taken us a pandemic and more to get here. The future is unwritten, and we can decide where to go from here.
Reminds me of a Chinese proverb that reads – “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.”
A little background on Nouveau Luxury : https://www.theconsciouscollaborative.com/post/the-nouveau-luxury
(The images/video in the article are not mine and taken from the internet for representative purposes)