Roxy Genier New Luxury Manifesto Transparency icon

TRANSPARENCY NEW LUXURY  VALUE #3

Excuses are no longer valid. Luxury must be accountable for their supply chain policies choices.

From the Dalai Lama “A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” to Mahatma Gandhi “Truth never damages a cause that is just”, there is a revolution happening in business both big and small – it’s called transparency.

Once upon a time the luxury industry was crafted from behind the veil, it relied on secrecy, whispers of awe, fairytale, and gauzy marketing. Now, due to rising levels of mistrust in millennial consumers, unethical practices behind the curtain, and the growth of social media, the era of secrecy is all but over, and brands that are adopting transparency will be the trailblazers.

Consumers Want to Be Challenged

The house of illusion is crumbling, consumers find it not only unimaginative but also a little condescending. Today’s consumer is bright-eyed, tuned in, creative and wants to be inspired and challenged by brands they can fall in love with.

Opacity is something one expects to be aligned with fast fashion and cheap production, but luxury – a value system built on quality, the finest sourced ingredients, and expert craftmanship – isn’t this something you would want to share? But the report from Fashion Revolution scoring the transparency of over 150 major fashion brands fell into some of the lowest percentiles.

Straightaway this throws up questions, why won’t the brand share their manufacturing process? What are they hiding? In the world of mistrust and endless information, this lack of transparency feeds that fire. The only way to clear the smoke, is to start wearing your heart on your sleeve.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury - Luxury must share traceable product stories

Reality is Easy to Uncover

The truth is, there have been too many lies and soiled stories. We live in an age of propaganda; from politicians to photoshoots to profits, people are tired of the tall tales – they would love to trust again, but its only in transparency that thread can be followed.

A note penned by Venture Capital Partner Susan Naci on an article released by Glossy echoed the sentiments the industry had been avoiding;

Dear luxury fashion industry, this is a note from one of your biggest fans: please stop taking yourself so seriously. No, not in terms of design and style — keep that genius and gorgeous — but in your dialogue with society at large.

Luxury fashion must face today’s scary culture of transparency — everyone knows everything. We know where the clothes are manufactured, the factory working conditions, how prices are set. Reality is just too easy to uncover.

So, rather than the painstaking upkeep of the fortress of secrecy in order to maintain the seductive mystery of the luxury lifestyle, the brands that strategically and intentionally maintain aspiration while inviting customers into their world will win.

Trust in the boldness to crack the door open, invite the customer inside, have a look around, and let her make it hers.

New Luxury Goes Beyond the End Product

New Luxury goes beyond the end product, it is a process – from the singular grain of authentic thought carried through to the final execution. It’s something to be proud of, not something to cloak in mystery or tuck away.

So how can luxury brands embrace transparency?

Offering an Honest Alternative

Fashion brand Oliver Cabell is a prime example of how luxury can embrace and build upon this honest alternative to opacity. Founder Scott Gabrielson is breaking the mould – they produce inhouse working with only Italian factories, they sell exclusively online, and they provide a plethora of information on each product to showcase exactly what costs went into production and even – controversially – how much the brand has marked up.

And this is so much more than just a fad to him, he recounts an experience visiting a factory in Asia where he witnessed poor worker conditions as women glued designer bags that cost a mere $100 to make. These same bags that were touted by the brand as being made in Italy and retailing for over $1200.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury Values - Transparency

Tapping into a Mindset of Self-Discovery

Oliver Cabell is a brand that is tapping into the millennial mindset of self-discovery. A generation who are tired of hyperbole and who want to own experiences and things that make them feel more connected with the world. A generation who want to look in the mirror and have a clean conscience. As brands we should follow this lead, we should also want to do the same.

Patagonia is another brand paving the way for clearer transparency in practice. They dedicate a whole section of their website (The Footprint Chronicles} to their practices as a brand. From traceable threads to ensuring they meet living wages across the globe, everything is marked out in divine detail.

Facing Our Own Demons

But Patagonia don’t just pat their own backs, they also point out their problems and highlight the areas they need to address and change.

This is amazing marketing practice, because no one is perfect, but by gifting their consumers complete clarity, it builds a two-way trust and respect system. Consumers trust that Patagonia is being transparent, and Patagonia trust that people can handle the truth and make a fully informed decision.

A Shift in Thinking From the Top

Surprisingly in a move to climb aboard the transparency train that is sweeping through our luxury landscape, Chanel decided to publish their 2017 annual results for the first time in over a century. The numbers don’t really matter, nor does their real reason behind doing it – pride, spin doctoring, or proving they are still top of their game. It’s a shift in thinking at a hugely high conglomerate level, it’s a step into the light.

Alam Khan sums it up perfectly “It’s a move that combines PR, boast, talent attraction and a nod to the times – customers and employees will rely on rumors in the absence of fact and clarity.”

Washing Away Dishonesty

It’s not only the fashion industry that has seen this shift in transparency. The beauty industry – one which has always relied on selling an aspirational story, pushed airbrushed perfection into the spotlight, and delivered fairytales of rare exotic ingredients and miracle science workers, are now hearing a rallying call for a simpler cleaner and greener focus.

A capstone research presentation into transparency and the beauty industry turned up some troubling results. Outlined in this article for Fashionista, the following facts were noted After surveying 1,800 respondents, the findings from the survey weren’t exactly encouraging for companies: Only 30 percent of consumers felt that they had enough information on a product’s ingredients, 42 percent don’t think brands provide enough information on ingredient safety and more than 60 percent want brands to identify the sources of their ingredients. It’s this mistrust, posited the students, that has led to the rise of so-called “clean” beauty.

This means that in today’s shift in thinking, beauty buyers are more likely to turn their attention to greener natural marketing because they think its less of a fake fad than what bigger brands are touting.

Today’s Buyer Demands Knowledge

It’s clear that beauty consumers want more; the whimsical tale of polished ivory skin and hibiscus floral arrangements isn’t going to inspire buyers anymore. To remain relevant in today’s market, brands within beauty need to give their buyers more than pretty packaging. Today’s buyers demand knowledge about their products, they are drawn to authenticity, and they crave relatability.

Conscientious consumption is sweeping across all industries, from food to fashion and now to beauty and skincare. This piece from Luxe Digital also hones that message;

” Luxury skin care marketers need to understand that this movement towards clean skin care and organic consumption necessitates more than just vague claims. Although all-natural ingredients and organic beauty products are specific trending elements of luxury skin care, the overarching theme is one around transparency and substantiation. It is without a doubt that the burden of proof falls upon brands, and skin care brands that are thriving are the ones that embrace an unprecedented level of transparency into the entire manufacturing process.”

New Luxury goes beyond the end product, it is a transparent process.

A More Conscientious Future

The era of transparency may be a frightening concept, especially for those businesses who aren’t a hundred percent sure how clean their hands are. Those big brands that may have moved away from the refined process and heritage they built their name on in the past.

But, when all eyes are upon you, it’s difficult to stay hidden in plain sight, brands need to shift their focus and find a way to embrace the change.

We all have a chance to go back and correct those wrong turns or to take a different track, one towards a cleaner more conscientious future, where our hearts, hands and closets are clean.

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

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Disconnection
DISCONNECTION