What does the world of luxury look like on the other side? Will we come out with the same hunger for luxury brands or will our tastes change for the truer version of it all?
Words Suhel Seth
In a world besotted with sonic booms on every subject, it is imperative that we go back to the elegance of whispers. The calmness of the understated and the relevance of social graces.
Luxury, in essence, is the art of the understated.
I have often said, that luxury brands many a time don’t even need their brand etched on the products they make. For many years, the fine tailors at Saville Row would not even stitch their outfit’s name on the inside of the jacket of the suit. And their logic was pristine: you don’t need to show the world what you are wearing: those who grasp the nuances of fine taste will know what you are wearing just from the fabric and the cut
Luxury is about individual gratification. It is not about peer validation.
In the world we live in, peer pressure apart, there is a need to shout from the rooftops of our arrival as it were. We need to fill the abundant spaces that are provided to us by social media handles and it is an unending race. Gone are the days when subtlety was more valuable and more regarded. Today there is an incessant need to establish one’s net-worth and sadly that is what then gives one any kind of social license. What if we had a world where people would post experiences without brands? That would not only stoke curiosity but would equally establish that individual’s self-worth. But we don’t do for the rat race today is skewed in favour of what you own and not who you are.
Luxury is mostly only about self-worth and self-image.
We live in times that are both challenging and equally stressful hence luxury has also come to be measured for what it costs to acquire. And therefore the yardstick is mostly material rather than experiential: this will change post Covid times.
These lockdown times have allowed people to introspect and come to terms with who they really are and what life is really about. It has been an imprisonment not just of the body but equally of the soul and when we free ourselves of these shackles, luxury will have a completely different meaning.
Luxury ultimately is about being comfortable in your own skin.
The contours of luxury as we know it, have to this day, largely evolved into the romance we have had with brands. The more expensive they are, the higher is the connotation of luxury but again that is far from what real luxury is all about. Be it hotels or air travel, be it brands that you wear or brands that you carry, people want to do all of it in solitude and almost always in exclusivity. They are slowly moving away from sharing their beliefs or their acquisitions, which are even remotely luxurious. There is an ever-growing need amongst some connoisseurs of luxury to escape into anonymity.
Luxury is complete when you are anonymous. And still revered.
More and more hotels are looking at sequestering their guests from their regular ones. They need to do this in order to offer their most valued guests the spaces of seclusion they need. While they began with Club Lounges and tiered membership, that too is changing. For many, a membership of a club that would have them, in itself is a club not worth joining. Personalisation in the hotel business has gone beyond toiletries and sleep aids: it has instead moved to menus and in-room experiences.
True luxury is always savoured alone.
If we look at the world of retail and within that, certain categories, we have seen a tremendous shift in the definition of luxury. The world has moved from limited editions to just limited and those brands that appreciate this are the ones that will thrive because ironically, the best form of luxury cannot be priced or comparatively estimated. To be able to price luxury is a malapropism in itself and we need to recognise that as we embrace a new world order. We will see a tectonic shift in the world of brands: many luxury brands will disappear from our lives because they will not measure up to the changing expectations of the true luxury lover. For them, their existence within the bubble of pricing will be an albatross around their necks.
Luxury will adapt quicker and more ruthlessly to this new world order than we can imagine.
None of us can honestly predict the fate of luxury. There is no crystal ball that can accurately predict the fate of many of the so-called luxury brands but what we can learn from is the way we will now start living. Those little drops of joy will become the elixir of our faith in luxury and brands will no longer be the sole providers of that experience. What will happen is a soul-shift that brands will have to first fathom and then re-calibrate their offerings.
And in this new world, we will see time differently; we will travel in a way that is more secluded and live our experiences almost in solitary confinement. Where we experience the joys without having the need to ‘share’ them with our followers and friends. There will thus be a change in the manner in which brands communicate; in the way, they wrap their benefits and make their offers even more understated.
Luxury will no longer be what we’ve ever felt or experienced.
THE EXISTENCE OF LUXURY BRANDS WITHIN THE BUBBLE OF PRICING WILL BE AN ALBATROSS AROUND THEIR NECKS.