Acoording to Domenico de Sole, former CEO of Gucci: “Luxury is the balance of design, in the sense of beauty and highest quality.” When people think about luxury, it is always about high quality. In our opinion, luxury is more complex; it is about craftsmanship, excellence, dream and time.
The notion of craftsmanship is mainly associated to the luxury market thanks to its idea of quality, know-how and traditions. Heritage techniques are in the center of luxury brands’ communication : Dior and Grasse, Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Ateliers des Métiers Rares… Even though many brands communicate about their traditions, not many immerse the public into the reality of their daily work. For example, with the runway show Chanel Métiers d’Art, this iconic brand pays tribute to the artisans that offer their talents to the Maison. By organizing the show outside the traditional fashion schedule, Chanel highlights the work of its ateliers and allows the public to appreciate the true value of handcrafted fashion.
More than a quality guarantee, craftsmanship is fully linked with the notion of exclusivity that build all the prestige of luxury. According to Elisabeth Ponsolle des Portes (Comité Colbert’s Chief Delegate) luxury is about “passion and requirement”. No matter the sector (fashion, hospitality, jewelry), the product or service needs to be perfectly nursed, as the customer demand has nothing to compare with other markets. That being said, some imperfections could be the proof of a handmade realization and as well as a guarantee of authenticity and uniqueness. Uniqueness represents a major factor of luxury customers demand, as it is part of the “dream” that a luxury product embodies. However, we can notice some exception to the rule for few products as the “Neverfull” bag of Louis Vuitton as it is no more exclusive nor rare but it remains a must have.
Making people dreaming and living unforgettable experiences is another characteristic that is associated to luxury. Indeed, the story, the dream and the emotions are as much important as the product itself and luxury brands understood it. Today, the luxury clients seek to feel emotions and to live experiences that only luxury can provide. Sitting in a comfortable armchair, being offered champagne and advising in the privacy of a cozy lounge made the purchase of a watch or a jewel an unforgettable experience and memory. French luxury has become a master of dreams and emotions because the French Maisons have, above all, a History. Chanel would not be Chanel without the Camellia, the pearls, or the magical story of Gabrielle Chanel. The watchword of the famous French Maison is to make thousands of people dreaming to show them the refinement of Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent country.
As Tom Ford said, « Time and silence are the most luxurious things today ». French Luxury brands are mostly admired for their long-lasting history which gives them a certain legitimacy and influence. For a luxury brand, time is essential. Iconic products like the Burberry Trench Coat, initially created as a military coat for soldiers, prove that time can make your product even more valuable than it was in the first place. By reinventing and modernizing their products, luxury brands show that time is a strength. Wealthy clients show a real interest for heritage and tradition in French luxury. They are willing to wait quite a long time to possess an exceptional luxury piece. We can take for example the Hermès Birkin Bag and the long waiting list. Time is patience and exigence. The more you wait, the more satisfying it will be when you finally obtain this precious product. Time and know-how are linked. The wait for a product can be explained by the use of rare materials and by craftsmanship. So luxury is based on modernity and heritage.
Although time, craftsmanship, exclusivity and dream define the luxury well, luxury is a complex concept and its perception is subjective. With the Millennials generation who tends to get bored faster than others, the luxury will maybe develop others characteristics that will fit new client’s expectations.
By Clémence TOUBEL, Coline GAUCI, Léa BOURDILLAT, Camille DUBRE and Elise ANASTASIO