Sustainability - New Luxury Value #1

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Luxury must drive the sustainable movement by leading the ways.

For more reasons than one, the luxury industry must drive the sustainable movement. For a start it is our duty as brilliant business minds to light the way for others to follow. Second, it is our duty as privileged people to help end poverty, to protect the planet, and to nurture the seeds of prosperity for all. Thirdly; it’s essential, not only to survive as a species but also to survive as a business in a changing and challenging world.

In the WWF report on Deeper Luxury, Jem Bendell and Anthony Kleanthous defined authentic luxury brands as “those that provide the greatest positive contribution to all affected by their creation and that identify their consumers as having the means and motivation to respect both people and planet”.

Sustainability is a Balancing Act

Back in 2016, a report looking into the predictions for the luxury industry cited that a staggering 88% of millennials and generation xers firmly believed that brands needed to do more good in the world. The message is loud and clear; those who are up and coming in the world of luxury, our next generation of buyers, seek clean labels and sustainability.

But what do we mean when we talk about sustainability, how does that fit in with the luxury market, and what steps can we all take to live cleaner and richer lives, and to implement more eco-friendly practice into our products, brands and businesses.

In short; sustainability is a balancing act. We all know that the world has her limits – limited space and limited resources and as the population grows and consumerism booms, its only a matter of time before we tip the scales irrevocably.

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Considering the Three P’s

According to McGill University; sustainability is about finding ways to meet our own needs without compromising the ability for future generations to meet their own needs. It is about living within our environmental means, and its taking the three P’s into account – people, planet, and profit. When working within the borders of sustainability we always need to consider three questions; is this good for our neighbor? Is this good for the environment? And does this make economic sense?

If you trace luxury back to its roots; it wasn’t ever supposed to be about excess. Luxury was linked with exceptional craftmanship and coveted materials. It was about something so special and so well made that you would only have to buy it once. It was about an object that could become an heirloom and be passed down to your children’s children. In short, something sustainable.

People, Planet, and Profit.

Big Brands Go Green

Luxury has always been celebrated as the pinnacle of great success. Luxury sets the trends for others to follow, and this is why the sustainable movement has to start at our door. Brands like Stella McCartney have already started, the fashion giant has embraced the art of wanting a greener more glorious world, she says I design clothes that are meant to last. I believe in creating pieces that are not going to get burnt, that are not going to landfills and that are not going to damage the environment.

From organic cotton to seeking out alternatives to leather in an effort not to contribute to the greenhouse gases caused by cattle rearing, Stella McCartney has taken the leap and is setting the bar for other brands to follow. Ralph Lauren has even hired a director of sustainability to work with them behind the scenes and Chopard is working towards becoming entirely sustainable.

Its time we take the stance that waste is finally out of fashion and that we are cleaning out our closets for good.

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Cleaning Out for Good

Fashion needs to slow down; of course the clothing production line will never come to a grinding halt, but while the cogs are turning it is worth addressing how much stock is being made and to look head on at the ways in which each garment is being made. Because waste was always going to be fashions next big scandal.

One of the biggest changes can be seeking cleaner fabrics. Fabric treatment is dirty business and often relies on a high level of chemical input. Then, animal rights in the fur and leather industry; both of which are not only unsustainable but the current practice is unethical. Fashion brands need to be able to trace their textiles back right to the source, and to ensure that every fiber has been crafted as cleanly as possible, and that every inch of fabric will be used.

Its time we take the stance that waste is finally out of fashion and that we are cleaning out our closets for good.

Sustainable Travel Trends

Far from the clean green couture runways, we come to a different type of runway – as we touch down to look at sustainable travel. In 2017, released a study that showcased a staggering 65% of travelers had vowed to look for greener accommodation for their next adventure. Those numbers are almost double what they were a year ago.

From the spreading death of the Great Barrier Reef to Machu Picchu threatening to close its doors, and the famous Maya Bay from Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach having to shut to tourism to let nature bloom once more – tourism does run the risk of stripping the earth. Travelers are becoming more attuned to the footprint they are leaving and this is sure to inform their choices moving forward. In an article for Luxury Daily Costas Christ the sustainability strategist at Virtuoso says;

“Perceptions of luxury are evolving as more and more travelers also consider authenticity as the new luxury – access to pristine natural areas, genuine cultural experiences and getting to know local people continue to advance the notion of luxury travel as providing a great vacation that also helps to make the world a better place,”

For the intrepid adventurer, sustainability goes hand in hand with luxury travel.

Keeping Our Land Clean

Even places like The Brando, one of the most luxurious resorts in the world are turning their attention to adapting sustainability. By concentrating their architectural efforts on completely renewable energy, they are practically self-sustainable and are now LEED platinum certified – one of the highest certificates you can get.

For the intrepid adventurer, sustainability goes hand in hand with luxury travel. From the far reaches of remote Polynesian islands to the edge of the earth in Antarctica, gin clear seas, diamond bright air, and untapped jungles – it is in everyone’s best interests to keep these far-flung places beautifully intact.

Of course, this poses a problem for luxury hotel brands and tour operators. How do you feed the needs of a five-star guest without leaving a large carbon footprint?

Changes Both Big and Small

Large hotel brands are also already implementing major changes in terms of architectural design and renewable energy sources. But even for the smaller more boutique brand – small touches can make a world of difference. For example even switching to LED lighting, while an investment at first, will dramatically reduce power outgoings and costs in the long run. There are other details; forgoing plastic straws, recycling, and considering water efficiency is just the tip of the already melting ice-berg.

One of the biggest problems the hospitality industry faces is food waste. Putting on an elaborate spread is certainly Instagram worthy, but dealing with the leftovers is a different story. On the shores of Mexico’s Velas Vallarta, one resort – the Puerto Vallarta is dishing out all its food waste to the local farmers to use as pig feed or to be used back at the resort to fertilize the lush green gardens.

By conducting your own waste audits at hotels and restaurants, you can start to take stock of just how much food is being thrown out, which areas are becoming sloppy, and where changes can be made to reduce the output. Getting your hospitality staff involved in the audit makes the world of waste more tangible, even just building on awareness and knowledge can reduce a throwaway culture and improve waste management.

The Pillars of Mottainai

Taking a philosophical approach to sustainability and waste takes the dull duty and chore aspect away and replaces it with something deeper that can imbed in our heart.

The Japanese concept of mottainai for example, can be traced back to Buddhism, and speaks of a feeling of regret at having wasted something precious. Mottainai seeks to embrace the four pillars; reduce, reuse, recycle, and respect.

The sociologist Yuko Kawanishi also believes that mottainai is linked with Shinto. The belief that all objects, no matter how inanimate, have a spirit. Thus to keep the spirit alive and to keep mottainai on the mind; finish every grain of rice in the pot, sew the button back onto your shirt, and look after the things you love or have loved enough to purchase.

Reduce + Reuse + Recycle + Respect

The Weight of Waste

Waste will weigh us down, not just as individuals, but as a planet. The need for sustainability is etched in our history; Easter Island is a tragic lesson for the modern world. The tale of the Rapanui who cut down all their trees, who frivolously used all their resources until there was nothing left but a barren wasteland and cannibalism to survive.

You’ve heard the age-old adage by now – there is no plan-et B, sustainable action starts here, it starts at the top, and together we can inspire a brave new world and a better life for all.

Sustainability is a New Luxury value. Now, let’s explore the next luxury anti-value.

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Deception

Curated Rarity - New Luxury Value #8

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Since time is the ultimate luxury, the weight of choice seeps into every facet of our existence.

Choice is a double-edged sword. On one side it is supposed to reflect freedom, independence, and the chance to hold fate in our own hands. But on the other side, it brings with it panic, uncertainty, and fatigue. In The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath writes;

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

While Plath is talking more existentially about the complex choices we need to make when it comes to what we will do with our one wild and precious life, the weight of choice seeps into every facet of our existence.

The Hollow Shell of Oversaturation

When our days are stocked with choice, embellished with endless design, and our shelves are stacked with options in every color, shape and size – objects start to lose their magic. Oversaturated markets strip these things of their desire, and leave us too lost to make a purchase, or left with a hollow shell of an experience.

This attitude leaves us with a throwaway culture; we care not for the tangible things we purchase, we glaze over when flicking through Netflix, and even on dates – we leave half our mind swiping left and right trying to see if there’s a better option out there.

How do we start to gift meaning back to consumers? How do we nurture love, hope and pride in the choices people make? How do we reconnect customers with a meaningful experience?

The answer? Curated rarity.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury - Luxury must be curated to guide our consumption choices

The Rise of Carbon Copy Consumerism

Even when we look at consumerism on a grander scale, businesses are quick to blame the rise of the internet for the decline in physical trips to stores and malls. But, in a piece by Pamela N. Danziger published by Forbes, this article states that the death of malls came from The result of conventional wisdom operating under the formulaic notion that creating a mall is about building a center then filling its spaces with the same stores as the mall the next town over and adding some experiences, like restaurants and theaters, with some special events thrown into the mix. Following that standard play book has resulted in most malls being carbon copies of each other.’

Curation is the act of filtering through the noise to find the rare gems.

A Creative Approach to Curated Experience

A creative response to this problem came from Platform LA, a company dedicated to curating customized mall experiences that fit beautifully with the neighborhoods they were being placed in. Rather than line the mall with the usual suspects and mainstay conglomerates, each business tenant was handpicked to reflect the needs and desires of those who lived in the neighborhood – from the stores to the restaurants, the leisure facilities, and even right down to the coffee companies. LA Platform also left space for pop ups and designed the whole look to fit like a tailored glove to the neighborhood.

David Fishbein one of the founders behind Platform LA said that “That is the future vision that we see. It is about creating these places that are true to the neighborhoods that they are born of and created out of the city you put them in. And that are places that provide unique neighborhood-centered experiences you can only find there.”

What can businesses learn from this approach? That bringing consumers back to brand loyalty comes from a creative approach. The recognition that people crave something different, something personal – something curated with them in mind. No one wants to live a cookie cutter life.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury Values - Curated Rarity

The Art of Anticipatory Design

Along with curated choice, another angle that is being explored as direct action against decision fatigue is the idea of anticipatory design. In an article for Q titled The next design trend is one that eliminates all choices, Aaron Shapiro the CEO of agency Huge cites in his manifesto that ‘The next big breakthrough in design and technology will be the creation of products, services, and experiences that eliminate the needless choices from our lives and make ones on our behalf, freeing us up for the ones we really care about: Anticipatory design.’

Anticipatory design relies on using consumer data to tailor experiences and preferences for them – reducing the need for superfluous decision making from people themselves and putting those decisions in the hands of the system. While this may sound a little Orwellian, these systems are actually already in our lives and so far, we are reaping the benefits. Google Now, Nest, and Amazon Dash are all examples the article puts forward of this idea already put into practice.

Of course, the idea of anticipatory design would fit snugly into the luxury industry. The pleasure of personalization, the silky nature of service, and an innovative approach to nurturing consumer relationships – is this so different to the role of a beloved concierge?

The Allure of Limited Edition

In an article titled One luxury brand on why retailers must do less, but better; Ana Andjelic notes that ‘Loyalty is created by piggy-backing on the identity of the audience and knowing their tastes, cultural affinities, aesthetics and specific identity, so you are talking to them in the language they are already using and on the topics they are already interested in,’ but also mentions how imperative it is that the ‘brand aims to recognize the consumer across every touchpoint in the style of a “butler, not a stalker”.’

Curated rarity is exactly as special as it sounds and really – to connoisseurs of luxury, this isn’t a new fangled or foreign idea. Rarity is the true heart and heritage of our industry, it just became lost in a sea of sameness. This is why it’s so imperative for luxury brands to return to the idea of ‘one off unique pieces’ or ‘limited editions’.

In that article for Forbes on overexpansion, Shadi Halliwell Creative Director of Harrods reinforces this point ‘Our international customers are incredibly discerning and clued-up on product. They are looking for one-off pieces, limited editions or bespoke items, and are prepared to pay a higher price point for this level of exclusivity,’ she goes on to say ‘One-off pieces, limited editions and bespoke items” are the magic phrases. The highest-end customer really doesn’t want a sea of sameness. They have the resources to buy to best. They want unique items. And, apparently they want unique stores. There’s only one Harrod’s. Selfridge’s flagship location is unique, and it only has a handful of satellite locations.’

Adaptable Rules for a Changing Future

Less is more may not sound like an ideal business model and when dealing in New Luxury it isn’t quite that simple. We recognize the need to both grow within these modern markets but also to keep consumers alive with the excitement of rarity.

The rules of curated rarity must be adaptable; scarcity and success, the mega and the mono – these are ideas often at odds with each other. But there is a way through the forest – by adopting creative approaches, working with one-off designers, and tapping into those inner dreams and desires of consumers – we can take a path that veers away from the sea of sameness that runs the risk of drowning out luxury brands.

Curated Rarity is a New Luxury value. Now, let’s explore the next luxury anti-value.

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Global Value Chains

Techno-Artisanship - New Luxury Value #9

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Luxury is the best that the mind of man can imagine and the hand of man can create - Stanley Markus

Luxury needs to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Today, you can find the label of luxury pinned to everything; from dollar store soup to cotton bedding. The word itself has lost all meaning in the marketplace and even to the individual it means something different.

For one person, luxury is a moments respite to curl up in a chair and watch the rain, for another it’s a captivating piece of art. The meaning has and ever is a shifting idea. And as the landscape changes and we lose control over our own definitions, it is worth remembering this piece of advice from this article on the Top 3 Ways That Luxury Can Innovate;

It’s important for transformative and innovative luxury brand marketers to remember that they never have the final say over what luxury is and what it isn’t. Customers define “luxury” and they make purchase decisions with their own definition in mind. Brands have to adapt to customer expectations based on people’s experiences across multiple categories and in the context of their social consciousness. An “Amazon-like” customer experience may not exactly fit the mold for “luxury,” but once a customer experiences that level of convenience, they will compare it to all other purchase experiences they have in the future. Thus, the bar has been set and other luxury brands are now challenged to raise that bar.

Luxury That Goes Beyond the Label

Now– we must rely on the artisanal quality, the beauty, and the exceptional craftmanship to mark our products and services above the rest.

In this piece for the Huffington Post titled Let’s Talk About Luxury, the author notes; All major research on the luxury market and its customer shows that the most sophisticated, affluent buyers are becoming more participative in the ways in which they buy luxury products and services. Bespoke buying, meaning personification, customization and allowing best customers to influence the shape of products and services is now commonplace.

The future of luxury is very much going to be a blend of client led, technology driven, innovation meets creation. A great example of this can be found in the fashions curated by Jon Lou. The company is described as bridging the gap between fashion and technology. The founder Theodora Koullias speaks of her inspiration as outlined in the same article for Huffington Post;

She points at handbags as being behind the times. “The handbag has ceased to continue to transform according to women’s needs,” she writes in Luxury Daily, which gives a woman no compelling reason to go out and buy another one. Koullias challenges the fashion industry: “A complete lack of innovation for so long is causing the industry to stall even as the world is becoming wealthier and women – primary spenders – are earning more.” Her solution is to apply engineering talent to innovate fashion around the changing needs of the customer, not more designers to apply a veneer to the surface.

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The Fashion Fusion of Art and Science

One look at the products of Jon Lou is enough to stir excitement; here we see beautiful Italian leather bags that will charge your mobile devices for two weeks straight. Their tagline of Not Just a Label is smart, they have created a fashion item that doubles as a personal assistant. This is the epitome of techno-artisanship.

Fashion tech is at the forefront of future design minds. We already have smart watches that can deliver our emails at the flick of our wrist, but this new and hugely exciting era of techno artisanship doesn’t need to focus on dressing for digital connections, it can be more a fusion of art and science.

For example Thesis Couture and their high-performance stilettos. Dolly Singh, the former Space X employee behind the brand hired a rocket scientist, Italian shoemaker, and orthopedic surgeon to create the world’s most comfortable stiletto heel. Other examples of brands paving the way include; Modern Meadow who are growing leather in a lab, Zenta the wrist watch that tracks emotion, and Lauren Bowker’s Unseen Collection which uses material alchemy to curate accessories that alter based on the environment they are in.

Luxury Travel and the Personal Tech Touch

It’s not just fashion that will be thinking outside the box. Luxury travel is already looking to transform guest experiences through the blend of amped up technology without losing the personal touch we associate with artisanship.

In this piece for Skift on why Technology is Top of Mind for Hotels, this quote leaps out; Technology is top of mind for everyone right now,” says Marriott’s Edmundson—who oversees eight luxury brands, including Ritz-Carlton, Edition, Luxury Collection, and St. Regis—specifically investment in the so-called “Internet of Things” (IoT) tech such as Nest temperature control units or Inc.’s Alexa.

Marriott’s experimental “Internet of Things room,” created in conjunction with Samsung and Legrand SA, includes showers that remember a guest’s preferred temperature, digital wall art that can be swapped for family photos, and mirrors with embedded displays—for on-demand yoga videos. The rooms will soft-launch in 2018; W hotels will likely be first to offer them.

Technology has already changed the travel industry from the outside, and now smart boutique hotels and travel brands are adopting this trend from the inside. Technology helps the guest to be in control and enables every detail to be gloriously personalized. From picking your perfect pillow style to in-room playlists – every second of a stay can be tailor made when you have the right technology involved.

Some brands are taking this one step further, like the Atlantis in Dubai who offer potential guests the chance to explore all the hidden doors in their hotel by way of a virtual headset tour. While it may sound little more than gadget gimmicky – a study conducted on more than ten thousand travelers came back with the figures that 31% would book a vacation after experiencing the VR tour.

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Dealing With The Paradigm of Time

Across the luxury industry, tech innovation is the buzzword on everyone’s lips. Engaging consumers in the modern market place is always a challenge, but artificial intelligence, techno artisanship, and creative thought processes can give us that much needed edge and help luxury move seamlessly into a future.

Luxury has to straddle that fine line between maintaining its heritage and integrity and moving into relevant territory. Of course, there is a paradigm to face in that technology keeps up with the present while looking to the future, and luxury is supposed to surpass all this and become immortal in terms of timelessness. Luxury brands cannot hope to focus solely on the tech element, as it’s the artisanship component that will gift the glory of everlasting relevance.

Artisanship are the very walls that house luxury, and this artisanship mentality spills over into everything. It’s not just about how a product is made, its about how everything around that product is curated. From the logo to the messaging, and even the community that is crafted – all these facets need to have a heartfelt artisan feel. In this piece titled The Future of Luxury in a Turbulent and Emotional World, author Diana Verde Nieto backs this up by saying; Luxury is often referred to as timeless, in part due to the longevity of the incredibly well-made products that represent many parts of the industry. However, the dependency on a much larger, fickle and value-oriented modern market raises the issue of loyalty once again for luxury brands. As such, brand communities are vital since 50% of people would remain loyal provided they felt integrated into a brand’s community, in either the physical or digital space.

Creating Ways to Break Boundaries

There’s no reason why luxury brands who rely so heavily on the concierge experience can’t utilize technology for an around the clock experience for guests. Personal chatbots and a seamless online shopping experience are just the start.

The Hawthorne Lab, a NY startup, raised a ton of revenue last year to offer men tailored fragrances considering personal diets, lifestyles, body temperatures, and other such factors which can change the way a scent mingles with the science of your body. A genius move that truly captures the era of techno-artisanship – the brand are taking an age-old product and using advanced intelligence to completely tailor this to match the desire for personalization.

The future for luxury can be exciting; the idea of touch-sensitive fabrics, intuitive room service menus, and fully integrated personalization systems seasoning our buying experience sounds fabulous. But remember – at heart techno-artisanship goes beyond the grace and glory of clever technology. At its very heart lies the desire to take the world forward, to create meaningful high-performance experiences, and to utilize the splendor of creativity, technology and innovation to redefine the industry and break boundaries in beautiful ways.

Techno-Artisanship is a New Luxury value. Now, let’s explore the next luxury anti-value.

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Fastness

Slowness -New Luxury Value #10

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We all know that luxury is something that goes beyond the material; it’s an essence, an experience, and an ethos that seeps beneath the skin.

‘Her whole being delighted in an atmosphere of luxury. It was the background she required, the only climate she could breathe in.’ Edith Wharton

We are all living in a world that moves so fast, we are in a constant state of exhaustion. Perhaps this is a side effect of living in a post capitalist reality; the higher up on the ladder you go the more hours you give away, there’s a boom in apps and amazing gadgets all geared to saving us time so we can be busier, and in a recent study from Colombia University, the masses hear the word busy and they immediately think status.

Luxury Should Offer Shelter from the Storm

Some of the worlds biggest businesses have curated their office spaces to look like frat houses or second homes. You can bring your kids, your dog, there are pool tables and mojitos, and even nap spaces and PlayStation. But the message this is sending out to the world, is that life is supposed to be lived in an amped up fashion, dialed up to eleven. It’s no wonder that we have forgotten the true essence of luxury – the chance to slow down, live in the moment, and soak up the splendor of rich experience.

We all know that luxury is something that goes beyond the material; it’s an essence, an experience, and an ethos that seeps beneath the skin. If luxury brands are able to disentangle from the message of fast and furious living, then we have the chance to change lives. To offer shelter from the storm. To empower people to shift their perception and to live healthier and happier in a more rewarding climate of consumerism.

How do we do this?

We slow down.

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Considering How We Spend Our Time

From a beautiful object you hold in your hands to a dish savored at a restaurant, a weekend in a wonderful hotel, and even the cloth upon your back – brands that embrace New Luxury can weave contemplative journeys into all of these things. Think of the connotations of the words associated with luxury; indulge, savor, embrace, experience. All these words whisper of softness, slowness, and the opportunity to truly relish this thing you have been waiting for.

In an article for Research Live, Richard Smith reinforces the point that yes, time is luxury but also takes it a step further as he unravels what goes into that equation. Smith says; ‘Tied in to time are four key human themes: protection, connection, freedom/escape and personal expression. We invest time to create protection for ourselves. Connection impacts on the quality of time we spend. We squirrel away time in the bank now (via investment) so we can release it later and escape to freedom.’

This idea of how we spend our time is a modern-day effigy that constantly haunts us. Our social feeds are filled with narratives urging us to live now, remember what matters, illustrated by viral stories of parting words of regret from those who have passed on. It’s a bind, the world whirls around us saying spend spend spend, go, go, go – but satisfaction sways and more and more people are starting to stop in their tracks, change their habits, and seek out softer, slower, and more meaningful encounters.

The Rise of the Slow Movement

Luxury has long been associated with the slow burn. The long journeys to distant lands to source the finest materials and ingredients, the handcrafted, cut by hand, slow stitched, and the oak aged. But at some point, the tsunami of modern times crashed upon us and luxury began to speed up. Digital arrived and created a paradoxical shift as luxury brands struggled at first to find a way to use these platforms in a meaningful fashion. But, the world of the wealthy never lost sight of that need for more precious time and now luxury needs to find its way back to that.

The rise of slow travel is a term that we see popping up across the board when it comes to millennial favored travel trends. While the last few years have been all about bucket lists, amazing Instagram feeds, and country hopping, we are now seeing a return to deep immersive cultural experiences, renting luscious properties for a more intimate feel, and trying to track and trace a more local feel to the fabulous places we visit.

In a piece from Smarter Travel, it defines the changing trend as the following; Slow travel is an offshoot of the slow food movement, which began in Italy in the 1980s as a protest against the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome. The slow food movement aims to preserve regional cuisine, local farming, communal meals and traditional food preparation methods. This cultural initiative has since burgeoned into a whole way of life known as the Slow Movement, which emphasizes connection — connection to food, connection to families and, in the case of travel, connection to local peoples and cultures.

The man behind the slow movement was a journalist from Piedmont, Carlo Petrini whose beloved book In Praise of Slow invites us to contemplate a more considered lifestyle “Fast and Slow,” he writes, “are shorthand for ways of being, or philosophies of life. Fast is busy, controlling, aggressive, hurried, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, active, quantity-over-quality. Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality-over-quantity. It is about making real and meaningful connections – with people, culture, work, food, everything.”

Making Space for a Change of Pace

Travel brands can embrace the art of slow living within their domains. Even city slick hotels can curate an oasis of peace for those who want to escape the hum. Superyachts can offer slow sailing cultural adventures for those seeking something more than the Monaco milk run, and luxe resorts can forge connections with locals for long and languorous bike rides through the countryside, slow cooking lessons, art lessons and authentic encounters.

Fashion is one of the major industries that also needs to slam on the brakes. We have talked relentlessly about the growing pains from brands like Michael Kors who boomed big too fast and is now paying the price. Tomorrows luxury fashion consumer will be seeking brands that embrace ethical practice and this means careful sourcing and slow production.

Stella McCartney is one of the biggest names in sustainable luxury fashion, in an interview for Vogue she said; ‘Fashion is one of the most far-behind industries of mass scale,” she said. “It gets away with murder.’ She goes on to say: ‘People are more conscious of what they consume: food, how they travel.’ She foresees a day when the ‘ingredients’ of garments, including their environmental and human costs, will be labeled.

McCartney captures the very essence of what slow and sustainable fashion looks like “Each decision we make is a symbol of our commitment to defining what the future of fashion looks like. From never using leather or fur and pioneering new alternative materials to utilizing cutting-edge technologies, pushing toward circularity, protecting ancient and endangered forests, and measuring our impact with ground-breaking tools.”

Alabama Chanin is another brand absolutely setting a precedent for what sustainable fashion brands can look like in todays luxury market. All their products are a hundred percent American grown and American sewn. While their prices are high, their process is local and thorough – with one coat taking eight weeks of skill and precision to make.

Another way of saying slow? Conscientious, thoughtful, careful, pertinent, and ever-lasting.

Nurturing a World of Rich Experiences

For many the syntax of business and slow doesn’t sit comfortably. The idea of slowness is often misinterpreted as less work and little growth. But, luxury brands are in this for the long game – they aren’t a fly by night fad, they are the backbone of consumerism; the only constant in an ever-shifting industry.

 As luxury brands we can afford to take our time.

We can use our resources to forge meaningful connections, to curate beautiful content and branding that delves beneath the surface, and to nurture the wonder of richer experiences for those who give their time to us. During an era where we are all overloaded and underwhelmed, luxury has the power to bring subtlety, slowness, and sophistication back.

To offer a beacon of hope and worth for those who crave the authenticity of time, connection, and contemplation.

Slowness is a New Luxury value. Now, let’s explore the next luxury anti-value.

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Sameness

Emotions - New Luxury Value #11

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In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different – Coco Chanel

Luxury is a language, a journey, an emotional connection that elevates us. In short, it makes us feel alive. The edge that luxury brands have over other brands is its ability to trigger a higher level of emotional engagement in its audience.

When someone purchases a product from a beloved brand they aren’t just buying a bag or pair of shoes – they are investing in a story, a statement, an expectation, and indeed a deep and complex romance that surpasses the fairy-tale.

Luxury brands know this, the man behind Ralph Lauren says so himself, “I create a world beyond fashion. I want to conjure a feeling of romance and a vintage glamour. This is how fashion becomes timeless and tradition becomes forever.”

Living Up To Heightened Expectations

Today’s luxury consumer remains enchanted, but they have evolved with the changing times. Today’s consumer is highly connected and informed. They are multi-faceted and driven by both emotion and purpose. They seek seamless experiences and they don’t have the time nor the patience for inauthentic encounters. Today’s consumer has higher expectations from brands.

In an article for Forbes on why Luxury Brands are Different, Robert Passikoff notes; ‘Over the years Brand Keys has observed that luxury goods have precisely the same engagement drivers as regular goods competing in the same category. The difference is that consumers hold higher expectations for those engagement drivers when it comes to luxury goods. Held to a higher standard, if you will.’

The allure of luxury is said to be psychological. Everyone knows that it’s a competitive marketplace and if you want to find something cheaper, you normally can. But like Psychology Today notes; Neuroscience tells us that the emotions associated with our judgments guide us in making decisions. Emotions and feelings are components of rationality in that they reveal what is important to us. For example, we can be emotionally drawn to good design, and then rationally decide whether the exceptional qualities of luxury design are worth the additional price versus the ‘good enough’ qualities of a mass market alternative.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury - Luxury must link our inner and outer realities

Sales and the Concept of Self

Buying habits help us with a perceived sense of self. The brands we choose to invest in become a mirror that reflects our own dreams, desires, and human development back to us. When it comes to luxury we seek out brands that extend a hand and welcome us into their wonderful universe. We want to equally belong and stand out in a certain world, and we aspire to be a part of something that we see reflected in a brand. The same article for Psychology Today goes on to say; ‘Our concept of self is in a constant state of regeneration. Because luxury products have the power to change the consumer’s perception of who they are by altering the self, they deliver desired emotional end-benefits, including self-esteem and hedonic feelings such as satisfaction and power.’

For the highly affluent consumer, this relationship is a little different. Its less about aspirational buying habits and finding a sense of self and more about feeding a positive thought cycle. For those who immerse themselves in luxury everyday they choose brands that evoke safety net feelings of trust, authenticity, and intimacy. This gauntlet runs so much deeper than just turning heads with high-class labels, its more about investing in ease, confidence, and contentment.

A Life Partner Not a Product

An interesting study from Yale tells us that the quest for authenticity starts at a young age. The study outlined in this article from Investopedia tells us; Researchers at Yale have determined that this quest for authenticity develops early in childhood. A study that tried to convince children that a cloning machine had produced their favorite item found that most children refused to accept the duplicate as identical. It turns out that the sentimentality of the item – the memory or pride or feeling that comes from having purchased a genuine luxury good – is part of the reason that we seek authenticity. 

Emotional marketing has been proven to positively impact buyers. Apple are a prime example of this; they aren’t a brand that had years of heritage beneath their belt, but they emotionally cultivated a lifestyle around their name. They have a near perfect emotional montage mix that anchors their name and makes them more of a life partner than a product.

Emotional connections take an understanding of your audience and the shift in today’s landscape to be the first step. We need to start seeing products as experiences, consumers as people, functionality as feeling, and swapping out being known for being loved.

In this piece from the Huffington Post on emotional branding it can be summed up in a simple sentence The bottom line is, you want to know what matters to THEM. From their perspective, not yours. For example, one of my coaching clients is in the business of luxury travel. A wealthy woman herself, she happens to be her market so she understands the affluent market extremely well. She said to me once, ‘You can give us 30% off, bonuses, etc. and it will mean nothing. Give us free water and a lounge and you’ve got us hooked.”

The difference is – you give someone a 30% off voucher and you are treating them like a buyer with nothing but a bank book. You give them a glass of water and a comfortable seat and you are treating them like a real living person, appealing to their human senses of getting thirsty and having tired feet. It’s a small gesture, but it makes a world of difference, and forms an emotional connection built on the ability for a brand to see who is standing in front of them rather than a spreadsheet of numbers.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury Values - Emotions

Turning Stores into Temples

Physical encounters are easier to nurture when considering emotions and luxury marketing. Going that extra mile when someone sets foot in your store immediately creates a bond. Like Thuy T. Tranthi the president of Thomas Pink USA notes when talking about approving every sales hire for all of her stores in this piece on Luxury Isn’t What It Used to Be; “It is the most critical position in the company. They mediate the interaction between the customer and the product. If that mediation is not an excellent one, the entire brand suffers from it.”

Making the brick and mortar aspect of your brand should be revered like a temple. Think outside of the box and turn your store into so much more than a flatpack shopping experience. Galleries, exhibitions, event spaces, screenings, dinners, fashion shows– you can transform a store into an innovative space that lives and breathes brand experiences for those who enter.

Binding Your Brand in Ritual

The same can be said for the products; bind your pieces in ritual and you encapsulate an audience forever. Brand ritual is a heady and powerful emotional tool you can utilize across your marketing platforms. It can be as simple as something like Corona beer with a slice of lime, or as complex as Le Labo hand-blending and decanting their personalized perfumes in front of the buyer every time. This is how you take a bite out of Apples playbook and become a life partner and not just a product.

Another integral part of building emotion into your brand is the art of storytelling. Luxury has forever been wrapped in the silk of mythology and tied with the fairytale bow. While today’s market will still succumb to a taste of that, the roots need to run much deeper. Brands should approach their storytelling much like a writer approaches a novel, those same rules apply – show don’t tell, avoid clichés, kill your darlings, take the reader on a heroes journey, invoke character, and use sensory emotion to connect.

In an interview for Forbes with Maria Doulton she reiterates the importance of weaving in that human element to the brand in order to form an emotional connection; ‘If we know the thought process, the inspiration, the philosophy of the creator, we can more fully engage with the product. Just think, although we didn’t need to meet Steve Jobs to know that his products were good, we were all fascinated with Steve Jobs and wanted to know more.’

Invoking Emotional Intelligence

Luxury should make an emotional attachment with its buyer and not just a fickle one. Surface connections leave people feeling empty and part of the reason people turn to luxury goods is to invoke the pure pleasure of retail therapy. They deserve the experience to run deep and for the emotional encounter to matter to us as much as it does to them. New luxury is about paying homage to emotional intelligence and nurturing those connections that grace us with better self-esteem, belonging, and a timeless beauty.

Emotions is a New Luxury value. Now, let’s explore the next luxury anti-value.

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Self Love

Community Love - New Luxury Value #12

Roxy Genier New Luxury Manifesto Community Love icon




"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." – Coretta Scott King

Once, the idea of luxury may have been synonymous with Marie Antoinette’s let them eat cake statement, but the past few years has seen a change thanks to the rise of the ‘good hearted’ millennials. Millennials may get a lot of flak; the media is all too keen to call them self-absorbed, selfie and social sycophants, but the truth is – they are social justice warriors, and they have ruptured the well-worn landscape, changing the way brands and businesses connect with consumers.

From Commodity to Community

An article for Forbes spells out exactly what we can come to expect in the future, as by 2030 millennials will make up a staggering 75% of the work force;

‘Digitally wired and connected from childhood, millennials have never been more than a few clicks away from friends and family. This “on-call attachment” has instilled a tremendous social interaction crave. In fact, millennials find tremendous comfort and fulfillment in leveraging these social interactions to seek constant support and reassurance. This is why most millennials prefer working in groups that offer a sense of unity and collaboration over division and competition.’

This desire for connection certainly spills over as we move from a commodity-based society into a community based one. Luxury brands need to embrace this change and to commit in their efforts to give back to society, raising awareness and funds to help support a cause that speaks the same language of identity.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury - Luxury must transform the way we exit and consume in this world

The Rise of the ‘Giving Generation’

Millennials like to give, in an article for Suiteness, Divya Mulanjur points out that; ‘The millennial generation is considered the ‘giving’ generation. We see it all around us – a shift towards green, organic, eco-friendly, sustainable, charitable, inclusive… it is increasingly becoming ‘cool’ to do good, to be aware, and to give back. The 2015 Millennial Impact Report stated that 84% of millennial employees made a charitable donation in 2014 – and not all were solicited through their companies. In fact, 78% that did not donate through their employer made a donation on their own. The study that researches millennials and their involvement with causes, reveals that peer influence, competition and incentives motivate millennials to volunteer and donate. But they are most inspired when their passion for a cause is evoked.’

The desire to give back makes millennials fascinating. They are said to earn less than previous generations but give more. Goldseker and Moody surveyed 300 high net worth millennials across America and 95% of them were found to be donating their own wealth before they hit the age of thirty. Perhaps its due to the rise in the internet and independent access to world news, or maybe it’s an optimistic approach to truly make a change, the feeling of being more connected to their peers thanks to social platforms. Whatever it is that drives millennials to give, brands need to get on board.

Luxury brands especially need to connect with the growing trend to be better. Today’s modern buyer has learnt from the fall of Marie Antoinette and craves more from their brands than a bit of bling and a label that leverages their status, they want to align themselves with a brand that lifts their positive social impact on society.

Perfecting Philanthropy

Engaging millennials to connect with your brand and to give back isn’t as difficult as it seems; they are ready and they are already putting their money where their mouth is. Brands just have to do the same. The first step a luxury brand needs to take is to find a cause that aligns beautifully with their brand, and to truly commit to making a difference. Vaguely picking a cause and making a token gesture will seem shallow and millennials who are constantly pounded with marketing messages every day are very adept at picking out true meaning.

Luxury brands have the power to build beautiful communities – regardless of which facet their business blooms in. In luxury fashion you have the likes of Demain donating all profits of its La Femme T-Shirt to the UN women. You have Toms with their one for one initiative, donating one pair of shoes to children in need for every pair you buy. And there is also Kate Spade who has gone one step further by fully implementing ethical suppliers in Rwanda into its supply chain.

The first step a luxury brand needs to take is to find a cause that aligns beautifully with their brand, and to truly commit to making a difference.

Advocating for Culture and Artistry

Building philanthropy doesn’t have to stop at the doors of consumer fashion; the travel industry too have all the right resources for building communities especially when it comes to the cultures and destinations they work with. Philanthropic travel can be a double-edged sword, voluntourism is not without its problems as highlighted in an article from The Guardian here;

‘Voluntourism may be fueled by noble feelings, but it is built on perverse economics. Many organizations offer volunteers the chance to dig wells, build schools and do other construction projects in poor villages. It’s easy to understand why it’s done this way: if a charity hired locals for its unskilled work, it would be spending money. If it uses volunteers who pay to be there, it’s raising money.

But the last thing a Guatemalan highland village needs is imported unskilled labor. People are desperate for jobs. Public works serve the community better and last longer when locals do them. Besides, long-term change happens when people can solve their own problems, rather than having things done for them.’

But a company like Wander has implemented a simple philanthropic service where travelers booking hotels through them can donate the booking fee to provide a Vietnamese child with vitamins for a whole year, or previously it donated solar panels to families in Peru. Intrepid Foundation is another socially conscious big brand tour company; on all their trips they only hire local guides and supports over 50 grassroots movements across the globe. Novica is another example; partnering with National Geographic they have curated an online catalog of goods directly from makers, villages and local artisans. So far Novica have sent over $89 million dollars to artisan communities around the world.

Roxy Genier - Luxury Consultant - Stagnation

Brands Need to Take Initiative

Building community and giving back to the world we inhabit shouldn’t just be left in the hands of the consumers, brands need to take initiative and to already work this commitment to change into their first step. Livoos are a luxury brand showcasing just how simple this can be as they donate fifty percent of their revenue to charitable causes. In this article for The Telegraph CEO Flavio Amorelli says that; ‘We are creating a whole new way of fundraising: you’re buying a product that you love and supporting a cause that you care about without any additional cost,”. Rather than being an afterthought, the donation appears as centrally as selecting a size or color; you can’t ‘add to bag’ without choosing a charity.’

Amorelli goes on to say, “It’s a challenge for luxury brands to sell a £5,000 handbag and then say, ‘but we also donate’, because there’s a feeling that they’re doing it just to look good,” he says. “Usually it’s a one-off campaign, or it’s Christmas and everybody is giving… but Livoos is a consistent, authentic platform that is selling products and making donations 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Brands want to be associated with that. Giving is important to customers, and this is our commercial proposition.”

From Guilt to Glory

For a generation raised in the aftermath of the market crash, the idea of splurging on luxury goods often doesn’t come without a heady dose of guilt. Sure, those with affluence have the cash to splash but we are beyond the point where relying on endless messages of indulgence are going to resonate. Today’s consumer needs more to hang their hat on and by aligning your brand with a reason to care, you not only work towards making a difference, but you amplify your message where it matters the most.

Give something back may land like a featherweight throwaway term or another buzzy marketing message but its down to us as brands to lend a solid weight and meaning to these words. Not under the guise of a gimmick, not once a year, and not without the very best intentions. 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.

Community Love is a New Luxury value. Now, are you ready to sign the New Luxury Manifesto?