Friday, May 19, 2017

Has Luxury Gone Too Mass?

Luxury brands have long been mass consumer brands. After all, real exclusivity — selling highly select items to a limited audience — offers limited opportunity for scale and business growth. Indeed, the world’s most elite luxury houses, like Louis Vuitton, Dior and Chanel, have driven strong financial results by creating iconic products as high price points, which, paired with elaborate marketing campaigns, emit a halo of perceived exclusivity around lower priced products, made to sell in high volumes to aspirational consumers. Getting the balance right can be a delicate act, involving art as well as science.

But in recent cycles, adapting to shifts in mass media, globalisation and a turbulent post-recessionary economy, many luxury brands have become more accessible than ever, embracing social media, fast-fashion collaborations, public exhibitions, stores in airports and casinos and off-price outlets offering last season’s luxury products (and sometimes purpose-made collections) for a fraction of the full retail price. This all may be well and good for investors, but the question is - are luxury brands upsetting the delicate balance that made them desirable in the first place? Is luxury fashion becoming too mass?

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