New Luxury & You: Let's Start Questioning Fast Luxury

What is the new luxury meaning when everyone can own a piece of Gucci, or at the very least, rent one for a night out. One must wonder if these so-called luxury brands still have status in our society. I believe they do not.

What is the new luxury meaning when those who can afford all the luxuries in the world recount that their ‘true’ luxury is time (quality time spent with loved ones to be more precise)? One should re-examine the values associated with how we define success in this world.

And what is the new luxury meaning when all the free luxuries of this world are lost in a globalized sea of conspicuous overconsumption. One needs to embrace a more philosophical approach to study the very definition of luxury instead of listening to what big conglomerated brands have us believe.

As someone who has traveled the world for nearly two decades in search of her own version of luxury, let me guide you in your personal exploration by questioning your beliefs on luxury.

Fast luxury is not luxury

Don’t be fooled by the bling. Bernard Arnault (LVMH conglomerate), François-Henri Pinault (Kering conglomerate) and friends are not in the business of fulfilling your version of luxury. They are businessmen who are building their financial empires by making you buy into their own dreams of luxury.

Ask yourself…

Why purchase the infamous Louis Vuitton Speedy handbag when thousands if not tens of thousands have been spotted in every corner of the world? Be honest with yourself, don’t you prefer the handbag designed by your favorite local designer anyway?

And why carry this mass-produced and over-priced handbag with you to the French Riviera when you can embark on a South American adventure that will redefine what you believe to be true in this world? Wouldn’t you rather be one of the few outsiders discovering the new Chilean Riviera with your exotic Singaporean handbag instead?

At its very root, luxury is an existential idea that embraces the very notion of individual self-expression.

And because of the subjectivity of the term ‘luxury’, what is luxury for me may just be ordinary to you.

Because who I am, what I love and what I value is not a representation of your inner-self.

It is a depiction of mine.

When we liberate our mind from all social expectations, when we focus on the beauty of what is truly important to us, only then can we savor the essence of true luxury.

So, stop mimicking others, and learn to embrace your own version of luxury instead.

Because the way we express luxury defines who we are as a person.

It’s time to decide.

Will you build the luxury dream of a few billionaires by over-spending on mass-produced machine-made items portrayed as luxury goods with fairy tales marketing tactics or will you express your true individuality by supporting those who have the audacity to keep the tradition of high artisanship alive?

How one defines luxury cannot be judge, because luxury is, and always had been, self-expression in its truest form.

Express yourself.

I say #no2fastluxury.

And you?


New Luxury, UHNWI & The Emotional Connection

People, and especially, UHNWI (Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals) don’t buy products and services because a brand’s Facebook page has over a million likes from aspirational buyers, nor do they buy because an influencer wrote a glowing review.

People buy because of an emotional connection, because of their belief system, their philosophy of life, and the way they seek to experience the world around them.

People buy because of the people they meet, the people behind the brands and products they choose to bring into their lives.

People buy because they believe that their purchase will make them feel alive.

If people buy because of how it makes them feel, then why are brands, especially luxury brands, not tapping more into this emotional connection?

When need and necessity no longer play a role in the consumption process, when money is no longer an issue, then what is left if not human emotions.

Winning the heart and mind of UHNWI clients requires something exceptional, it requires a very strong human connection built on strong emotional values.

There is no shortcut.

There is no trick.

If you want to reach UHNWI clients, you need to put in the time and effort to show your true value before you even stand a chance of being noticed in a crowded marketplace.

This means owning your skills, mastering your craft, and perfecting your offer.

And doing so with purpose and a set of well-defined values.

This is where New Luxury comes in.

New Luxury is, in essence, a way to connect through a collection of individual experiences that shape the interactions between brand and people.

It is a way of doing business that bridges the gap between buying and giving back.

When a brand is sustainable, it pledges to protect our planet and our communities through their production choices.

When a brand uses forward-thinking technologies to hone artisanship, it makes us believe that our future is indeed brighter than ever.

And, when a brand promotes community-love from the inside out, it touches us at the deepest human level.

Gimmicks or fairy tale marketing campaigns don’t work with UHNWI.

They won’t be impressed either by sales techniques that are meant to disrupt their attention away from what they value the most – their time.

But if they feel your purpose, your values, and your commitment to excellence, you might be surprised and get a message on your social media channel asking for a meet.

Know who you are.

Know what you stand for.

Know what you can offer.

And if your message connects with a UHNWI on a deeper level…

Stand proud behind your version of luxury.

Because that is why they reached out to you in the first place.


Luxury Meaning: 12 Anti-Values Disgracing Luxury Today

Over the past few decades there has been a boom in the luxury market; with trends growing as quickly as the rising spires of Dubai’s skyline. The pace has picked up, trends move fast, and suddenly we get the message; the modern luxury meaning becomes a paradigm of modern consumerism – as the Economist put it bluntly; its exclusively for everyone. That message was muttered back in 2014 but now as we approach 2020 – this commitment to consume consume consume seems to have left everyone at burnout. The old ways are failing, the grass is no longer green, and for luxury brands to not just survive, but thrive – a bold new commitment to change is needed.

If we were to open our ears, we would have heard that the conversation has changed and its consumers who are now leading the way. Luxury brands who turn a blind eye to these demands and choose to rest on the laurels of a successful past may find themselves left with little market share and only the crumbs of yesteryear upon the table. As bleak as that may sound, actually – take a closer look and you will see the future is bright.

The advance of modern technology and social media means that consumers are no longer reaching in the dark, now their eyes are wide open and they see the terrifying truth – that mass consumerism has led to brands being a little clumsy with our one most precious global asset – our planet. The number one demand on the table is for this unethical behavior to change; for brands, and especially luxury brands, to embrace a more ethical approach in business. This conversation is not just another flash in the pan or hashtag trend – it is a real demand and one we should all be keen to take on board. This shift in mindset is irreversible, with these words we can no longer avert our gaze, we are looking directly into the face of the luxury consumer of tomorrow.

The old ways are failing, the grass is no longer green, and for luxury brands to not just survive, but thrive – a bold new commitment to change is needed.

There is a rhetoric when we talk about luxury; its old money, its baby boomers, it’s a mans world. But, the baby boomer era will soon come to a close and next in line are the millennials. Millennials who have grown up in a different world; one that is more tuned in to the inconvenient truth. Sweat shop factories, low wages in third world countries, burning leftover stock, animal slaughter, and cultural appropriation are just a few examples of wrong turns that not only makes for bad business practice, but also can lead to long nights of the soul. In an era of transparency there is nowhere to hide, and every individual in the industry will become accountable for the actions and decisions they take.

Luxury brands have always been the innovators, the thought leaders, those with a precision like power to influence global industry. Its time for these brands to pave the way; to take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and to change the way they do business. As leaders at the top, its not just in the interests of our business, its also our responsibility, and our duty to our upcoming audience. If we are brave enough to make the change, this will cause a ripple that could reach the shore of every business and brand across the land and together, we can change the fate of our planet.

The twelve anti-values etched out below do not come from the depths of my imagination, this is not opinion-based teaching. Over the past decade I have had the privilege of experiencing the labors of the luxury market; from working on superyachts to being a personal assistant to the one percent, living the high-life as a luxury influencer, and spending thousands of hours immersed in the thoughts and insights of luxury leaders. I want to share my findings because I truly believe that luxury has lost its luster and there are those of us out there who seek a better version of luxury. Together, we can face our demons and we can lead the way in working towards a better world not just for the one percent, but for all. Because honestly; let’s not let that age-old adage of luxury costing the earth become a prophecy just for profit.

12 Anti-Values Disgracing Luxury:

Luxury Anti-Value #1 - Waste

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We have forgotten that the true ethos behind luxury is longevity; buy it once and it lasts forever. Now, luxury brands are burning end of season stock, feeding an insatiable hunger to deliver the latest trend, and fast fashion is polluting our air and tearing downland at just a heartbeat behind the fossil fuel industry. But its not just fashion; each guest at a hotel can tally up 1kg of waste per night, a fifth of global food produce rots away in the trash, and as of 2012 only 1 percent of purchased products were still in use after 6 months. New Luxury is less about slash and burn, make and break – it’s about savoring every morsel, because each thread is pure and precious.

Luxury Anti-Value #2 - Deception

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Plagiarism, fakery, and cultural appropriation – luxury brands may want to check their closet for skeletons as consumers are no longer abiding tall tales, fashion theft, and riding of the back of exploitation. Luxury shouldn’t be about laziness, but many high-class brands have a nasty habit of stealing ideas from others instead of seeking beautifully crafted and intelligent inspiration from within. From whitewashed models being used to represent the beauty of Africa to major names copycatting graphics from young indie designers; brands that thread fakery into their narrative are sure to be called out. We are entering a new woke world, and New Luxury is no longer about fiddling, airbrushing, and taking what isn’t rightfully ours.

Luxury Anti-Value #3 - Opacity

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Glittering diamonds, clean lines, and soft silks – but behind the scenes; shadowlands, crumbling factories, poverty, and criminal tax evasion. Luxury brands who have something to hide have everything to fear. Brands have a duty to be transparent with their audience; when people are making purchase choices, they have a right to know what they are investing in and where that money goes. Luxury brands can no longer claim ignorance or dodge the bullets that will come when another third world factory collapses, when more children are rescued from slave labor, or when stories of death and discrimination associated with their brand climb out of the woodwork. New Luxury is not about glossing over gross misconduct.

Luxury Anti-Value #4 - Disconnection

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Luxury has always had a habit of clinging to the old world; risk taking and embracing change doesn’t seem to be in their repertoire. No change seems to have been resisted more than the movement into the digital sphere. Luxury brands were too caught up in the physical and the sensory to align their message and create meaningful connections with consumers in the virtual world. Instead; the resistance led to aloof and cold websites, zero social interaction, and a falsetto mystique that left consumers frazzled and frustrated. Then, there are those brands that chase fads and follow trends; completely losing sight of the strongest foundations of luxury; that it stands strong as a rock against tides of transience. Luxury has already been slow off the bat to create a compelling digital presence; New Luxury is about seeking a chord of harmony that resonates, because the digital and the real world will soon be one.

Luxury Anti-Value #5 - Stagnation

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Heart and heritage are the golden words behind many successful luxury brands and with this can come a sense of stagnation. Heritage brands can find themselves with their backs against the wall, they have centuries of history beneath their belt but suddenly the world around them is changing. But as we know, evolution and innovation isn’t about keeping one foot on the platform. History and heritage does have its place, but luxury brands are clinging to these beliefs like anchors rather than life rafts. An anchor will pull you stubbornly to the bottom of the sea, a life rafts will keep you afloat no matter how much the tide changes. New Luxury isn’t about staying in the same loop or getting stuck in a time warp, it’s about learning how to stay relevant, exhilarating and inspiring on the journey from past to future.

Luxury Anti-Value #6 - Narration

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The monologue is coming to a close and instead of dictating the trends coming next, luxury brands must be willing to get involved in a two-way dialogue. Consumers are now actively contributing to the narrative, sharing in the message, and depending on the brand – this could be very sticky territory if you don’t know how to utilize your consumers voice in a positive, powerful and productive way. Luxury brands can tend to put themselves above the art of conversation; just look at their social media pages. Many times you will find lukewarm generic content, queries met with poor etiquette, and criticism responded to with stone cold silence. Even some of the biggest brands in the business have braindead social media pages that are an absolute bore to scroll through, which is shocking in the era of the influencer and the chance to have a ton of fascinating content across every spectrum. New Luxury isn’t about dictating the same old bedtime story, it’s about having real, authentic and intimate conversations that matter.

Luxury Anti-Value #7 - Fairy Tales

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Whimsical women running through the streets of Paris beneath plumes of perfume, airbrushed models with blank faces, and young bikini clad girls standing in the shadow of the older man on a superyacht. The luxury industry still operates like it’s the 1950’s and women are either objects of desire or buying objects so others will desire them. Now, more than ever – gender politics are garnering interest and the calls are loud and clear – the message needs to be changed. Its no secret that females lead consumption and every year they contribute over $100 billion to the luxury industry. Regardless of facts and figures; women do not deserve to be condescended, shunned, or stashed inside a stereotype. The MeToo Movement has left a well-heeled indent on societal structures and brands who don’t up their game in their representation of women will find themselves gathering dust. New Luxury is about telling stories with honest and respectful recognition.

Luxury Anti-Value #8 - Overchoice

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From the silk road to the ancient spice route; once upon a time luxury was about traversing the globe on intrepid adventures to return with the finest wares and wonderful stories. Now, you can find a Louis Vuitton, Gucci, or Prada store and a Marriott, Hilton or Ritz-Carlton hotel on every corner of practically every cosmopolitan city in the world. As travel is becoming a more common commodity with budget airlines and faster journey times whipping us from London to Tokyo in a mere matter of hours, the allure of experiencing the same luxury over and over is starting to fade away as we feel more comfortable with global living. As luxury brands surpass borders and boundaries, the sense of rarity becomes lost and the paradox of more becomes less as too much choice confounds the consumer. This is where luxury runs the risk of becoming a brown box commodity; so easily accessible that the journey is lost and when the journey is lost, the status of luxury dissipates and you become just another high-street name with a looming price tag. New Luxury is about striking that all important balance and standing out against a backdrop of blandness.

Luxury Anti-Value #9 - Global Value Chains

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Luxury brands pen beautiful tales of exquisite craftsmanship, but often the reality is mass production lines and low-paid immigrant labor. When you see the words Made in Italy etched into a label you conjure up images of artistry among the rolling hills of Tuscany. But in the 90’s Tuscany became flooded with immigrants shipped in by big name brands to work in dimly lit sheds and sleep huddled in rooms behind these factories. From blood diamonds to mass suicides in big brand production plants, the situation is serious. Not only is this approach completely unethical from the brand, but it also forces the consumer to be unethical without their knowledge. Luxury brands that look to cut corners with cost reduction are directly contradicting the true meaning of luxury. New Luxury is about a clean conscience for both brand and consumer; imagine how liberating that will feel.

Luxury Anti-Value #10 - Fastness

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If there is one word that is synonymous with true authentic luxury, that word is time. Not only time to curate something outstanding, but the time to truly enjoy it. It’s a fast-paced world out there and luxury has a duty to make us stop for a second, to breathe deep, savor, appreciate, fall in love, unplug, unwind, and relax. Some luxury brands are trading the slow burn of time for fast production in search of profit. Fast fashion, fast food, fast travel, and fast luxury – its exhausting for brands and consumers and leaves everyone disconnected from the experience. In an era of FOMO, the constant urge to update our Instagram feeds, and the time pressure to make the most of every moment; we need to nurture the art of slowing down – from the seed to the root to the apple. Time is central to the story of New Luxury; not the cheap chase or the empty expense.

Luxury Anti-Value #11 - Sameness

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Global standardization is stripping away the customized culture and personality of a product or place. This is especially potent when it comes to big hotel brands. You could be in a Four Seasons suite in Singapore or a Ritz Carlton in Paris and wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. This is why the hotel industry has seen a sharp turn; the rise of the boutique business, the adoration of Airbnb – travelers are giving us the message loud and clear. While globalized big name brands are working towards perfection across every country in the world, the boutique business is embracing the energy and charisma of its imperfections because that is where creativity lives. Standardization is a word that contradicts luxury. It’s a word that comes with connotations of reducing cost and uniformed outcome. New Luxury is about celebrating culture and recognizing the rarity in what it is to be different.

Luxury Anti-Value #12 - Self-Love

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Spoil yourself is the message constantly pushed by luxury brands. Yet the very audience they purr this message too are often very philanthropic in their everyday lives. Just take a look at the Giving Pledge set up by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in which 184 of the world’s wealthiest across the world pledged to give away half their wealth to bring positive change to society. In this new era of transparency and better ethical practice, perhaps its time for brands to make a better effort. The stereotypes of class warfare have long shadowed the modern world. A Harvard study back in 2009 actually displayed that exposure to luxury goods tapped into the area of the brain most associated with self-interest. Perhaps luxury brands need to start thinking about ways they can connect with the philanthropic side of their consumers rather than reaching for the outdated story of elevated status. New Luxury is about pledging our own moral compass, to bind ourselves with the world and its people, and to give back in the best way we can.

The 12 anti-values facing luxury today are real, but as we open our eyes to face our demons, a new reality can emerge. Let’s join forces to change the meaning of luxury from one of mass-consumption to one of enlightening experiences that leave us connected with our globality. And, let’s remember:

Earth is our one and only home.

Time on earth is our one and only global luxury.

The choice is ours.

Which path will we take?

Article created in collaboration with Jodie Oakes, luxury storyteller, & Rubem Vieira, art director. 


Dear Burberry, Our Sustainable Alternatives to Burning Your Luxury Goods

Note: It worked! Once the word was out about their annual bonfire, thanks to influencers and social media, Burberry didn’t have a choice, they needed to respond to the mass outcry.  The result: within a few weeks, Burberry announced that they would no longer burn their luxury goods but will instead try to find alternative solutions.  

The world is changing, and luxury needs to pay attention.

Maybe it was once acceptable for luxury brands such as Burberry to burn unwanted stock worth £90m over a period of five years, but in this millennium, we notice when a brand destroys our planet.

And when we notice, we boycott until the problem is solved.

 

Although Burberry claims that they have taken actions to minimize the impact of their choice, many of us find it unforgivable to tolerate such waste, especially when the end goals is to preserve the brand value, to sharpen the brand positioning, to create scarcity and exclusivity, and to prevent theft and counterfeit.

If Burberry does not find a solution to prevent such waste in the future, they may find it hard to thrive or even possibly survive in the twenty-first century.

Through their unsustainable action, we believe that Burberry shows no respect for their products and the resources needed to produce them, no respect for their employees who have worked hard to grow the brand, no respect for their fans who are now questioning the value of their own Burberry goods, and obviously, no respect for the planet and our global community.

Burberry

Burberry is not the only fast luxury brand to destroy goods.

Richemont, which owns Cartier and Montblanc, has reportedly purchased back $744 million of its own unsold goods over the last few years to avoid the devaluation of their brands, some goods have been repurposed while others have been destroyed.

LVMH is also a culprit as are many others.

The problem of destroying over-production must be addressed, and solutions must be implemented.

Obviously, luxury brands must maintain their exclusivity to retain their status.

Donating the goods to shelters as many have suggested is not an option because it would devalue the brand in the eyes of those who covet its elite status.

But if Burberry paid attention to their community, they could easily find several alternatives that could help them lead the way to a sustainable future.

 

To help Burberry and other fashion luxury brands generate ideas to solve the overstock problem, here are a few sustainable alternatives to consider before burning beloved luxury goods.

#1: Leverage blockchain technology for better supply chain management

And when it comes to driving sales through community building, well… adopting blockchain technology leads to authenticity and transparency, two of the twelve New Luxury values found in our manifesto.

Since blockchain provides fingerprints of every step of the manufacturing process, it also provides a signature of authenticity to every product.

With blockchain, the records can be accessed and verified from virtually any location in the world at any time, making the authentication of counterfeit goods a seamless process – every time a product changes hands or is transferred to a new location, a transaction is stored in the ledger.

If a link if missing in the physical-digital chain, it could be the sign of someone attempting to divert authentic goods out or inserting counterfeit goods in.

Transparency with blockchain makes counterfeit evident and easily stoppable because it makes everyone involved accountable for their actions.

With such technology available, it is easy to understand why polluting our planet to prevent counterfeits is no longer a viable solution for any respectable brand.

Let’s remember that millennials, more than other generations, demand to know the story behind the products they buy.

Regardless of the industry, everyone is talking about blockchain for a good reason.

To explain it in simple terms, blockchain is like a giant decentralized and transparent Google Spreadsheet which is secured with cryptography.

It can store an entire history of transactions across a shared database, automating data gathering, reducing the human error factor out of tracking information, and eliminating waste across every step of a process.

 

The fact that Burberry needs to burn such a large quantity of stock every year implies that they do not fully understand their supply and demand chain.

If they implemented blockchain technology into their processes, we believe that they would be able to stop production early enough to avoid such excessive waste.

Or, at the very least, they would better manage their disposal.

With blockchain, a record of everything would explain the actions taken to find alternative emission reduction techniques to produce renewable energy and counter the effect of carbon emitted by them.

If the public is aware of the measures being taken by a brand to become sustainable, then a relationship of trust could start to flourish.

 

Luxury brands should lead the way in sustainability. Others will follow.

In addition to reducing counterfeits, blockchain transparency also carries customers closer to the stories behind the brand and its products, especially if they can use interactive labels to bring a new dimension to the shopping experience by linking the product to its source.

If you can prove what is great about your brand and your products with blockchain and transparency, you no longer need to claim to be luxury, you simply will be.

If Burberry doesn’t know where to start, they can simply look at the startup community to find inspiration.

 

For example, Provenance, a UK startup that hopes to build a future of brand trust with their transparency platform, uses blockchain, mobile and open data to help brands bring verified information from their supply chain to the point of sale.

Using their platforms, brands are then able to share their business impact and their values, open up their supply chain to showcase the people, places and processes behind every product, create a digital passport for every product linking them to either a batch or individual items, and ultimately drive customer engagement with tech-powered experiences and the use of interactive labels.

Provenance claims that bringing trustworthy information to the point of sale helps build brand trust now and into the future, something that is important to younger generations. We believe the same.

Idea developed with: Bhavna Jayashankar – Luxury Research & Consulting Intern here at Roxy Genier

Since adopting blockchain technology could take a few years to properly implement at Burberry or at any other fast luxury company, in the short term, we need alternative solutions that could have be implemented in a few weeks. Here are a few:

#2: Repurpose the luxury goods within Burberry or through third parties

If an inexperience chef boils too many lobsters one evening, he will serve it as lobster salad at tomorrow’s lunch.

Recycling and repurposing the overstock of luxury goods should not be discarded for its non-luxury status.

Burberry could start a new emerging designer program where it would donate its overstock to those who have the talent and desire to reimagine the extra Burberry garments in new ways.

This idea not-farfetched.

Since 2017, the Burberry Foundation has partnered with ethical and sustainable fashion brand Elvis & Kresse to tackle the global problem of leather waste.

n the next five years, the partnership will see a minimum of 120 tonnes of leather off-cuts from Burberry recrafted into new luxury items.

Burberry just needs to take this idea a step further and finds ways to reinvent their over-production by donating their extras to emerging designers.

#3: Keep the inventory, then in 20-30 years sell it as mint-vintage pieces

Everyone knows that fashion is cyclical, especially if you are older than thirty years old.

Patterns and styles that were hot when I was a teenager have already resurfaced time and time again.

Since Burberry is in the long-game, why not safeguard the beautiful garments, releasing them back to their fans as original mint-vintage pieces in a few decades?

Obviously, they shouldn’t keep over-producing year after year as they would not be able to store millions of pieces in their warehouses – we have already established that blockchain should be implemented to manage their supply chain.

But since the goods are already in existence, why not protect them for a future fashion coup? Fans would be delighted, other luxury brands would be jealous of the idea, and our planet would start to heal.

Original idea crowdsourced in a LinkedIn comment from: David Deluca – Office Manager at Logz.io

#4: Gift the goods to Burberry’s deserving employees, turning them into walking brand ambassadors

As a “global luxury retailer and manufacturer, with more than 10,000 employees, 449 retail locations and a supply chain that touches thousands of people worldwide”, Burberry could turn their over-production mistake into an opportunity to elevate the corporate culture.

By gifting the unpurchased goods in-house, they could turn 10,000 employees into 10,000 brand ambassadors, ambassadors that would have walked the streets of this world promoting the Burberry brand through their love for their employer.

Imagine the social media campaign, imagine the virality of the donation, imagine the elevated state of Burberry as a luxury brand in everyone’s mind.

Such an act would have turned a terrible PR moment into one that could have served as a case study for employee loyalty and success.

Original idea from: Vanessa Liwanag – Business Development Manager here at Roxy Genier

 

Luxury needs to care about sustainability and the values of New Luxury, because everyone who is listening to the global conversation already does.

Alternatives to burning unwanted goods do exist if management listens to their community and thinks outside the box.

If you know of other sustainable alternative to burning luxury goods when production surpasses demand, don’t hesitate to let everyone know in a comment below.

The more we talk about sustainability in luxury, the more we have a chance to save our planet.

So, talk on, and share on if you believe in luxury sustainability.