Is There Luxury Fashion or... Is There?

Discussion in 'Fashion... In Depth' started by dontbeadrag, May 11, 2021.

  1. dontbeadrag

    dontbeadrag Well-Known Member

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    I may start this by saying that I have always been fascinated by the connections of luxury and fashion, and recently graduated with a published thesis on the topic of dream of luxury, and it made me wondering, in an emotional and non-scientific or statistical sense – is there actual luxury in fashion anymore?

    With all the bloggers, handed out pieces, all the advertising and the approaching death of print, I see fashion in fruition, but luxury is having its last breaths. Is digital and overmarketing killing it, transforming it or we just haven't reached the change yet?

    I cannot help remembering, when I was a teen, my mother would take me to a high-end boutique and we could spend hours there - flicking through the garments, talking to the SAs, to the store owner, and then we'd be invited to the private area and have speciality desserts and coffee. The last such encounter I had was at Prada back in London, and I only got a coat and a pair of shoes, nothing too crazy or too expensive (quite basic pieces). These days, I admit it, I prefer to shop online - it is more convenient and cheaper (for some reason), they do include presents and cards, and mail, but there is no luxury to it, it is too dry, too cold.

    While Vogue and the company weren't niche, I didn't see every third Instateen or a TikTok person pose with its issues and take pictures of it on the coffee table. It seemed more sacred. And I do know it - of course, it was primarily the rich who were interested, but these days - it is not exclusive, being a simple showreel of editorials or shallow articles (Where is good writing outside of 5 new lipsticks for summer? I know it is in Vestoj with Anja Cronberg or in The Gentlewoman, but still.)

    Then, the trading, vintage, and reselling appears. It is all fuelled by the brands that not necessarily create knock-offs (Zara, H&M), but mid-level ones that created rather different pieces, but still heavily inspired, and with much better pricing and not necessarily always worse quality to add. In 2020-2021, there is a whole wave of new luxury niche online stores where art and design students sell their works (APOC Store and so on, easily found).

    Of course, we cannot stay away form the fact that luxury became a dirty, filthy, disgusting word. It is no more aspirational to be extravagant and luxe, it is seen as shallow, demonstrative, and, for some reason unknown to me, shunned upon. I doubt the reason is it being the financial divide only - it has always been there.

    Is luxury, and fashion, has to be elitist to be luxurious and not omnipresent? The brands build the hype and sell like hotcakes, the sales always go up and so do the revenues, defeating the purpose of luxury already. What the affluent ones do for it? Dom Perignon does not cut it, Bottega Veneta can be found cheaper or knocked off easily, and nobody, except the expert, would truly tell. You can find tons of promo codes and offers to stay in the best hotels, and the true uber-luxury of yachts and planes... It is a different kind, not the one I am talking about, where you can reach and touch it.

    What do you think? Where is this going? Is there luxury in fashion, or has luxury became too fashionable? Do we need to slow down, or what, you think, will actually happen?

    ________

    TL : DR – I was young and got emotional looking at the shows, often actually wanted to buy Dries Van Noten and was happy to do so, these days even the majority of things seem "meh" and even getting a Balenciaga coat does not even seem like an event. How can we fix luxury fashion?

    I love this place for the discussions we can have, it would be lovely to have input and to talk about the topic. Frankly, this is the only place I have left online where fashion can discussed in-depth at all.
     
  2. susseinmcswanny

    susseinmcswanny Well-Known Member

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    Well luxury has definitely been redefined over the years. And it has a lot to do with our rapidly changing society and the differences in classes. What distinguishes the upper class from the lower class today? What constitutes as modern extravagance? It always revolves around scarcity. In the past maybe luxury involved products originating from a foreign land or something made by a special artisan. Today goods can be transported virtually anywhere at a relatively low cost. Information can be exchanged at extremely fast rates and anyone who wants to can learn how to sew, embroider, etc etc. There isn't much extravagance in the old ways of luxury because it's too easily producible and too widely accessible. Nothing at Prada or Gucci or wherever has the same value as it did 20 years ago because the means of production and materials are too abundant. Fact of the matter most designer brands' clothing and accessories are considered mass produced. Why would any wealthy person desire this stuff if they are trying to achieve extravagence? It's nothing special.

    To the lower class, maybe buying Gucci, Prada, etc etc is considered "luxury" because they're on a lower playing field and competing with each other over social media to achieve the appearance of a higher status by wearing brand names and recognizable designs that are known to be expensive. A lot of those (maybe all) "luxury" brands are verrrryy very very interested in making money. Having that base of people that are so eager to spend their life savings to buy recognizable products shifts their focus to creating stuff for those types of people. Those brands are not interested in treating and catering to people like clients. They treat the people like they are the product.

    Now for the upper class today, what comes to mind that is scarce and desirable is sustainability. It is extremely cheap and easy to treat our planet like sh*t. Not even gonna get into the details of it. For a wealthy person, "sustainable" fashion might be more enticing since it requires greater knowledge, skill, and technology for means of production. As for what that looks like exactly, I am not entirely sure. Something to definitely think about. Also, another side note thing the upper class may consider even more luxurious is more personal and authentic ideas. Since most of these brands are so focused on producing products that can cast a wide recognizable net to the lower classes, the upper class will may looking for something more special. What can they get that no one else can have or would think to have?

    Lot's to think about y'all!! Interesting topic indeed
     
  3. Phuel

    Phuel Well-Known Member

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    If we’re to be honest, none of the so-called "new guard" of creatives possess the highest standard in construction, innovation and presentation, let alone the talent and skills of the previous generations: Standards have been lowered to their lowest all in the name of “inclusivity and diversity” (although it isn’t at all about inclusivity nor diversity really. It’s all about who and what will sell to the masses of sheep that have become more and more dumb-- easier to emotionally manipulate-- and wouldn’t know a whiff of high standard in design and presentation if it kicked them in the face). And for what? So that the masses will feel inclined to buy a basic hoodie/sneakers/ bag at a ridiculously skyrocketing premium rate while the quality continues to decline— as long as the models in the campaigns and shows and on the covers of Vogue are Black and/or plus sized??? When Costco is carrying Prada’s Galleria bag, you know the dream of luxurious high fashion is dead. Anyone who has had/have the privilege of luxury high fashion a part of their life knows this to be true. The agenda in the industry— as it is in the agenda of all creative industries nowadays, isn’t to promote talent: It’s to promote a socio-political agenda because this is what sells to the masses: And creative vision is suffering/dying because of it. And most are too afraid to call out the lack of talent in fear of being branded racist/misogynist/sexist/homophobic— and these lessers know it so arm themselves with socio-political gimmicks cuz that’s all they’ve got to snatch a seat the table.

    @dontbeadrag: You have the background, the experience and the education to understand and realize the dream. How you choose to maneuver through this shallow, creatively-bankrupt mess of an industry in its current incarnation is up to you (...cuz we all need to make a living). But individuals like yourself— just out of school, and still value the highest standards that were once the unshakable foundation of high fashion, and who can see the decline of the industry, are the ones that will sustain and usher in the renaissance of creative design and vision— cuz this era is absolutely not that renaissance LOL (… If anything, this is a greedier, more materialistic, more aggressive, more shallow and selfish, more divisive, more wasteful and more disposable era in fashion then there’s ever been.)
     
  4. dontbeadrag

    dontbeadrag Well-Known Member

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    After a couple of days, I have re-read the book by Dana Thomas on luxury losing its power, and had to get back to you, @Phuel and @susseinmcswanny . The book reminded that quality is the general concern here as well as tradition, as expected. The clothes not that much, except Armani saying how it is okay to make clothes in China as long as quality is there, but he forgot to mention the terrible environment, wages and overworking of those people.

    What fascinated me was the take on perfumes - they wanted it to sell more and more, as any business would do, and made packaging cheaper first. Worse bottles, no more cardboard to hug it, so it doesn't move around in the box, and so on. The niche perfumery came, but they have access only to great ingredients. Great, not the best. Chanel still does for Grasse as they have their own flower farm for roses there, but that is it. Jean-Claude Ellena, Hermes perfumes nose, was invited for a chat, and even he admitted that these days everyone substitutes extraits for synthetics, and a true perfume would cost around $30000, but only singular faces in the world are interested in that.

    Then the documentary about best hotels came in, and they said that material luxury is no more - all the luxury food, clothes, accessories and beauty became too accessible, even experiences and cars are in danger. The most popular luxury past year for the millionaires was, behold, to go for eco-trips, with the freshest food possible, but all other luxuries taken away. The majority of nouveau riches, while staying in the best hotels, ask all personnel and butlers not to come and prefer to do their luggage and unpacking themselves. And just yesterday I read that for everyday luxury they would prefer secluded gyms and quality brand reusable water bottles.

    We knew long time ago that sustainability is coming for luxury, but then, if material luxury is no more, and customisation is barely able to meet the demand and is not attractive enough, are we going back to the roots? It seems that having time to waste and also being alone, quiet, outside of the pressure, is luxe back again.

    I can't help thinking that luxury has to be mysterious and exclusive, and Instagram has ruined it all. Not only it, but mostly. It all started with fast internet I believe.

    I remember you had to go into the store to see the clothes in detail or check out the new interior. You had to go to Bali to see it, nowadays you can see so many pictures and videos that even travelling seems mundane. About 10 years ago a lot of people around were close to "wow, you went to Paris!", and today it seems as "oh, it's been a year now that I've been to Paris last time...". And I am not talking the wealthy ones, I am looking at my friends who live on the average wage in my city, and travelling became so much cheaper in past years, what is great, of course. However, it became too hard to pinpoint what exactly is the new luxury, except having disposable time and the ability to distance from the people.

    Maybe it is the part why print is failing - it became for the artists and creatives, others don't need it anymore.
     
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  5. Lola701

    Lola701 Well-Known Member

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    Luxury still exist but it’s really for an elite...And don’t get me wrong, beyond Money, it’s about an Elite of taste.

    When in the early 00’s the word luxury became the actual word for « expensive », the paradigm changed. A 600€ Cotton Gucci t-shirt is expensive. It has nothing luxurious attached to it. Even Tom Ford who does the best « luxurious » silk jersey tshirts is expensive. But can you justify that excessive price? By attaching luxury to it...Suddenly, the value of aspiration is added to a logo t-shirt.

    People shops at designers stores like they shops at Zara. They goes to 5 stars restaurants like they go to McDonalds. They wants to buy a perfume...Straight to Sephora. They goes to the hotel like it’s an Airbnb...
    The concept is to consume and to own, not to enjoy and use.

    A lot of people with money today are not tied to social circles like the people before. Before, with the desire to fit-in was installed the vision of cultural elevation.

    Today, Money allow certain people to create their own crowds and in a way to set their own rules.

    But yes, the mass (and rich people can be mass too) have lost respect for things. When people wanted beauty, they respected the product or service. In a way, beauty is timeless and really personal. Luxury as it is today is non of that...
    Add to that the US mentality of « the client is king », and it’s disaster. Thank god in France that rule is not a standard.
     
  6. THD96

    THD96 Well-Known Member

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    The truth is fashion doesn't need luxury, it's not an necessity, creativity and quality are. Luxury is just another tool for corporation to markup price for more profit. Label something "luxury" doesn't automatically make something desirable at least for me. What draw me in fashion in the first place are the creativity, the techniques and quality. Yes the price is always expensive but at least the creativity back it up, unlike today where you slap logo on some basics and double the price ( Balenciaga gold leggings vs Balenciaga now come to mind).

    Small artisans groups around the world have prove to me that when you create something with creativity, passion and dedication the results will always be desirable without the word "luxury" attach to it. "High Fashion" should be synchronized with "Expensive Fashion".

    I think fashion of today is all about surface level status of success. Rich people and people that success use fashion in the most shallow way today. The quickest way to know someone rich or success? Head to toes LV or Gucci logos.

    It's crazy to think that RTW used to be affordable (by today standards) and t-shirt used to be considered not fashion enough and lazy. And now we have "luxurious t-shirt" by every brands.

    And about Vogue and printing issues. Let be clear Vogue is failing, not printing because printing is thriving, but that is for another topic.
     
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  7. fashiont914

    fashiont914 Member

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    Sorry guys but this conversation is as shallow as it gets. Lower class? Try 95 percent of the population fighting to be in the top 5 percent. This is why luxury fashion is bleeding out and for good reason. Societal trends dictate that when times are really opulant aka 2010 to 2020, the natural reaction is to snap back to the mean.

    There is a paradigm shift going on related to demographic changes (lower birth rate) and new world order (rise of Asia). People see a life they want on social media and that is the new aspirational. Fashion should be like art imho. But guess what, when you see only casual separates in all these shows, showcasing faces that NO one except the small few here can identify, maybe you are the one holding on.

    We should push the brands to be more accessible imo. But the marketing strategy of selling overpriced disposable fashion pieces is to hype it up and sell to people who dream about social mobility is the very reason why people are sick of stuffy elitist pov. This whole game centers around feeding your ego and maybe more people don't care to feed yours any longer.
     
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  8. fashiont914

    fashiont914 Member

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    And yet the US is still the 1 cultural force in the world and its not even close.

    I see a lot of client is king at all those French houses that still exist..... Companies like Chanel and LVMH chase profit, not feelings. All their designers and production isn't even French anymore. They just not chasing the nostalgia you are looking for anymore.
     
  9. dontbeadrag

    dontbeadrag Well-Known Member

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    It is hard to say that there is elite of taste anymore. Education is as free and accessible as ever, good design becomes omnipresent and identification of authenticity and “being like nobody else” is no more - there simply are too many brands that follow too many aesthetics. The segregation is real and everything is so easy to find, not mentioning a lot of things are easily made per a customer’s desire - clothes to homeware, for various prices.

    @THD96, I absolutely agree and also enjoy the idea of splitting into luxury and expensive. The latter is rarely luxury, now it is only a signal and does not convey anything luxurious. Luxury as price and scarcity has been outdated for long, at least artificial scarcity. Even diamond prices are regulated - the research says it is nowhere near rare in nature, even more common than the majority of minerals we know. The skill should be there as well as creativity. So many “luxury” goods lack quality, despite the high price, it is such a sad and off-putting state of anything high-end these days.

    @fashiont914, I am asking to be excused. but I cannot take anything that you wrote seriously. Your post tackles the lifelong battle of “the rich vs. us, the average” and “the evil corporations vs. the normal people” and this is already extremely tired.

    You should be aware that luxury, which has thousands of years of history, has always been meaning something that is accessible only to the few, the rich, the elite, whatever you want to call them. And anything that becomes accessible to the masses is not a luxury and will never be.

    Every person is egotistical and your claim is just as egotistical as you point out us, “stuffy elitist povs”, to be. All your words are saying “give the masses luxury too, because they don’t have the money, but they still should have it!”, what is essentially, telling in a straightforward rude way, means “i’ve got no finances for it, but give me a piece of Michelin experience or Hermès too”.

    What I agree with, is that fashion should come back to being art and creativity, because seeing same things at COS and Bottega Veneta, and knowing quality, except for the leather, would be much different, surely drives me to get cheaper COS. Buying anything to show you’re rich, without any consideration of style or artistism, is extremely shallow and self-absorbed.
    What all of us should be happy about is that these days all brands try their best to live, not only fashion ones. I see tons of smaller coffee shops and restaurants that do what they do for passion and it is also very accessible. Niche small ones, not the chains.

    Not all companies always seek profit. Christian Louboutin has actually refused to sell his brand to all the conglomerates that offered it, because he does not want to compromise quality and integrity. That his designs are outdated is another talk.

    The fact that brands are too accessible now and “nostalgia”, as you call it, is not there is the reason this topic exists. Because luxury fashion is no more, it is just expensive clothes at this point.

    The question still remains - what do we think luxury is these days, goes it have to be expensive or not, or even cost money at all. I myself feel more luxurious listening to the birds chirp in the nearby park with a cup of coffee than buying a Prada jacket from Farfetch, which became the coldest, most sterile and boring experience ever. I’d rather put my money to develop my own business or buy some food for the homeless.
     
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  10. Lola701

    Lola701 Well-Known Member

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    I don’t think you did get what I meant...

    This isn’t a question of war, cultural war or such and such. It’s a question of the meaning of luxury today. And for me, the relevance of what it means today has to do with the respect people have for the Metiers or the lifestyle around it.

    And I talked about France, not French companies. Going to the Vuitton store in France or in the US or even in the Middle East is a different experience when you are French. And will go further to say that the experience is different from a French person buying in France than a Super rich Russian for example.

    There’s a banalisation of luxury. That’s all.
    I’m not chasing nostalgia at all, I’m observing the way people are consuming. And what nostalgia means when it comes to consumption? After all, it’s a deeply personal decision.

    I just think we need more educated consumers in order to get better designs, products, quality and services.

    It’s something that you see more and more for example in the Niche perfume area. People first go for a desire of personalization and kinda becomes expert and have a real education on the subject.
     
  11. Phuel

    Phuel Well-Known Member

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    ^^^ The general trend towards rejecting the splendour of an acquired and studied luxury tradition, and towards a more expensive fast-fashion is predictable and understandable in this age of instant gratification and utter laziness. And rather unintentionally hypocritical and lacking any sense of self-awareness for anyone to accuse traditionalists of being egotistical when this new generation only ever wants basics with blaring logos/monograms overload: The ultimate display of ego LOL Add to that the superrich dressing like they’re living on skid-row: When you can easily afford every brand like takeout, dressing like the DSL delivery guy or like you’re wearing cheap knockoff seems “exclusive” (as long as that look costs a lot of money) only adds an arrogance and insult to people that are unfortunate to being living in skid-row. But fortunately trends are meant to be disposable. And I get that the ideals of maintaining/returning to this ultra-decadence of what traditionally constitutes as “luxury” can feel outdated. Understanding and appreciating past-traditions with the new outlook and new attitude of easygoing and conscientious socio/eco approach seems fresh for me.

    Unfortunately, the general mood of the times seems that people don’t care for the investment, the dedication, and the passion into anything: The consumer want instant gratification— whether that’s buying into a status quo with logos/monograms/“It” items etc, with the fabled Houses desperately trying to pander to common tastes, and/or the new generation of designers seem to only care for fame and fortune: Dressing and being BFF with celebrities, living the glamorous life, and “making it big” with their brand. Luxury goes against all these: It takes time to understand and produce. And that goes against the instant-gratification mood of the current times and this new generation of outlet-aesthetic. This attitude will pass in time. But we’'re in the thick of it now LOL
     
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  12. fashiont914

    fashiont914 Member

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    I agree with you Lola and with a lot of everyone's pts.
    But for a few of the pts that are being made. Who wants to return to the old ways? People need to be reminded that the old ways in fashion were usually terrible and inefficient. People will look back at it like people look back at the 20s...wasteful.
    If you love French culture, that's awesome. Educate the consumer! The small subset of the population you are aiming is important for you and others with similar tastes but in a macro scale, irrelevant. You cannot fight a wave. You cannot fight gravity. Better to demand the changes from within the system.

    To repeat, the natural reaction to wasteful, indulgent, mostly forgetful fashion is the opposite. This is a historical fact that can mapped out across all cultures throughout history. But it doesn't snap back anymore to couture gowns because society has moved on. People wore wigs, now no one will.

    Also to be clear, I define luxury as something people pay a premium for perceived value. But luxury can be anything. It can be clean air in a polluted city. Water in a desert. Ice in a hear wave.

    My pt is the luxury fashion is being replaced with new luxuries. Experiences, emotions, awe. But with any paradigm shift, there are a few who hold on to their vcr, dvds, cds, blackberries, blockbuster card, hope that people suddenly wake up and will try to see which models walked prada exclusive. I respect you if you do but can't take people reading these posts and thinking all of us on this site are as elitist. (their words not mine)
     
  13. KINGofVERSAILLES

    KINGofVERSAILLES Utterly-Unknown Member

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    Are we human or... are we dancer?
     

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