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SLOWNESS NEW LUXURY VALUE #10

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.

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