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The definition of “Luxury” is changing – is your branding keeping up?

Fashion is not about luxury. Hermès never uses the word, nor does Porsche. An in-depth analysis of many fashion/luxury brands reveals a paradoxical absence of the word “luxury”. 

The word “luxury” is connected with scarcity and exclusivity, thus being the privilege of a very specific demographic. But clever fashion/luxury brands do not want to limit themselves to a specific demographic, and instead choose to demonstrate good taste, creativity, insightfulness, wellness, and social consciousness. In this way, they remind people what real luxury is about: the art of excellence, of elegance, of sustaining heritage, local roots, craftsmanship, disruptive creativity and high sustainability.

Also, and this is very important to remember, with vast numbers of the population being under social disharmony and inequality, brands using the word Luxury carelessly may end up rubbing salt into the wounds of our society.

A market cannot flourish if its reputation is tarnished. While people are thrilled to be a part of an exclusive inner circle or to be seen behind the velvet rope, the rewards they get are overshadowed by the anger and disappointment of others who are left out. When you feel excluded, you remember it for the rest of your life. You must constantly show empathy, or at the very least the common sense to recognise that while someone’s income may easily improve tomorrow, the bitter aftertaste of feeling excluded today will be with her for a long time.

I am not suggesting we (the Luxury sector of the wedding market) abandon the use of the word “luxury” altogether. But I do think that if we are to be relevant to the new generation of meaning-driven consumers, then it is critical that we redefine our branding in terms of Luxury as mindfulness, collective cultural contribution, generosity, kindness and empathy (Read more about Luxury as generosity). Something luxurious is not exclusionary – it is razor-sharp inclusive – for those you decided to serve (Read more: Why exclusivity is not the same as exclusion).

Just remember, couples’ incomes can change much faster than your brand’s image. Don’t leave a bitter taste. Being exclusive is not the same as being exclusionary.

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