Building Blocks Of ‘The New Luxury’


Jonathan Ford | July 01, 2015

The future of luxury is evolving and very definition of luxury is changing. Here, Jonathan Ford, Founding Creative Partner at Pearlfisher examines the key shifts in play to help brands rethink the concept.

The future of luxury is evolving and very definition of luxury is changing. Here, Jonathan Ford, Founding Creative Partner at Pearlfisher examines the key shifts in play to help brands rethink the concept.

Our perception of luxury – and what we now expect from luxury products and services – has changed. Once elitist and just accessible to the rich, luxury has now democratised to become the aspiration of millions and is readily accessible to more and more each day.

Luxury is no longer just about a brand name or solely synonymous with material things. A sense of time, experience and value are intrinsic to enriching today’s luxury offer and should be the building blocks that help us create new definitions of luxury in the future.

With this shift, the future of luxury has the potential to empower all of us (and not just the elite few) to live fuller, better and more abundant lives.

Here, we outline three key shifts influencing the future of luxury that can help inspire brands and individuals to rethink luxe and empower them to begin designing for good.

“ Luxury has now democratised to become the aspiration of millions ”

1. Slow Luxury: Richness Of Time

Luxury brands need to encourage us to slow down and explore with thoughtful contemplation and appreciation.

Maison Martin Margiela: ‘The Line 13’ homeware collection

Today luxury consumers are experiencing a sensory overload from overt luxury and are increasingly looking for slow and subtle luxury products.

Over a 13-year period, luxury fashion brand Maison Martin Margiela released its homeware collection, ‘The Line 13’, with one product per year – from an ostrich egg doorstop to a paint pail champagne bucket – to embody the brand’s minimal luxury aesthetic and behaviour.

On the other hand, the White Wolf Hotel, in Portugal, is a holistic retreat that takes luxury travellers on a contemplative journey through quietness and calm. Guests stay in separate buildings, each designed to give the appearance of diving into the ground, signifying the relationship between man and nature, the guest and the experience.

2. Experiential Luxury: From Conspicuous To Meaningful

Luxury brands need to reaffirm their exclusivity and specialness to offer a more highly personalised service.

The White Wolf Hotel, Portugal

Luxury consumers are increasingly moving from an expressive to an impressive luxury mind-set, seeking out experiences over material goods.

A survey by BCG claims that 51 per cent of US luxury consumers are now looking for ‘these enriched experiences’ over product. And a new and growing experiential luxury movement is tapping into this. We are seeking new ways to take time out, slow down, contemplate and appreciate.

I have now worked in the luxury sector for close to a decade and feel nowhere is this better evidenced than with travel. Travel has always been a mainstay of the luxury market – with the focus firmly placed on the experiential. But it is no longer about ticking the boxes with a one-of-a-kind destination holiday, the ultimate five-star hotel or a far-flung spa.

This has become too homogenous; too predictable. Instead we are shifting towards a new luxury experience with unique escapism matched by an individual aesthetic. With the accommodation maybe now being more important than the destination – or actually just becoming the desired destination.

Again, The White Wolf Hotel in Portugal, is a good example.

Another innovative player is Selfridges in London, which recently embarked on an exploration into personalised retail. The Fragrance Lab concept offers a one-of-a-kind profiling experience to identify a signature scent for individual customers.

Initiatives like this signal a big change in terms of both the personal and the in-store experience.

As we look to the future, it will increasingly be about how we connect with the idea of luxury in its many forms and how luxury presents new ideas to us in a more open, honest and visible exchange.

“ These emerging cultural insights around luxury present new and potential opportunity for all ”

3. Philanthropic Luxury: Enriched Value

Luxury brands need to understand that we are socially and ethically aware and want our purchases to have an added, enriched and ethical value.

E-commerce site Zady

Ethically minded e-commerce site, Zady, is selling clothes with a conscience, enticing customers to buy fewer pieces at the highest quality to promote longevity and timelessness. Similarly, U.S. minimal luxury fashion and lifestyle brand, Everlane, champions ‘radical transparency’, with the belief that consumers have the right to know what a product costs to make and the factories they are made in.

Everlane taps into the growing consumer desire for straightforward and transparent consumerism and offers their customers the confidence to indulge in guilt free luxury.

New and evolving luxury behaviour embraces intimate and personal connection, spiritual and transformative experiences, with emotional and ethical learning that reaches new depths.

These emerging cultural insights around luxury present new and potential opportunity for all. Brands need to recognize the shift in consumer desire and the new brand trajectory, looking within to discover new ways to provide for the individual and for our world. A new generation of mindful brands could signify a new future for luxury and a new and better life for all.

To further investigate innovation and the changing face of luxury on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

- 10 Top Luxury Brand Experiences
- 7 Digital Innovations for Luxury Brands
- Integrating Luxury Retail Online & Offline