Owning has given way to experiencing and people have started to care who makes their clothes
Back in the 1990s, it seemed to me that the only way to describe luxury was in terms of material goods, unattainable for all but a chosen few who could shell out the big bucks. As long as it had plenty of diamonds and sequins customers were happy. But as the years pass and 2016 fades away, I see a new approach to the idea of luxury on the rise in the younger generation.
The focus has shifted from acquiring things to acquiring experiences.
We still want pretty things – but that’s not what luxury means anymore. Through new technologies, especially in the realm of social media, smartphones and the infinity of information on the internet, the focus is not on the “haves and the have-nots” but on people’s quality of life. We want to experience the world around us with all five senses: to devour that one delicious burger sold at that place that you discovered, to feel the intense excitement of not simply buying a painting from that up-and-coming artist, but actually meeting them and discussing their artwork.
The fashion industry is divided on the issue of product vs experience. On the one side companies give you denim jeans for €8 made in “I-don’t-want-to-know-land”, and on the other they seek to bring the buyer closer to the craftsmanship, culture and heritage of the brands and the people behind them.
I see this change as one of the most promising developments of the past years. From this perspective, luxury could be a perfect organic breakfast made by that adorable grandmother who owns that B&B in a sleepy Sicilian town, or the unforgettable song played by a lonely guitarist in a rose-covered courtyard, or another blissful moment no matter how brief. I myself am already enjoying this way of living, seeking out beauty, wonder, and quenching my thirst for the fantastic experiences life has to offer.
It is my belief that through sharing our experiences, millions of people see new possibilities for their own lives. It might not be the million-dollar yacht, but we can definitely get that divine coffee in the bistro where you can watch the sun rise through Parisian windows. These kinds of experiences do have a price: They cost effort.
After all the routines that make up most of our day, isn’t it wonderful that we can be part of something special, something one-of-a-kind? All it takes is initiative and a little elbow grease. So this new meaning of luxury is not about destroying the old one but rather giving it a higher value and a deeper meaning.
Additionally, I am saving up for the new Nike Special Field Air Force 1. Don’t judge.