At first it seemed democratic that many posed with objects forbidden to the majority. Until the luxury went from observer to actor: those who claimed to be followed by many eager to consume moved from Instagram to sit in the front rows of the parades. The most retailer industry in the world, clouded by the amount of “likes” rather than the quality of the photo or the type of follower, began to give or lend looks to anyone who had many faithful and exposed all day.
A specialist in marketing in New York tells that his clients, luxury brands, are questioning quality vs. number of followers and ensures that:
“Luxury seeks to return to its former attitude of discretion and privacy because it is difficult to sustain its prices with such exposure.”
The product has begun to become popular and its value declines. A few years ago, says a publisher of Condé Nast, including a luxury article in a magazine had one condition:
“You can only mix with products of your level but the influencers arrived and they put you in polar pajamas, cheap shirts, ice cream and supermarket creams.”
A little history.
A visit to the Balenciaga Museum in Getaria has led me to reflect: how have we changed so much?
In her archives we see the order orders of her clients who, in private fashion shows, marked the chosen models and that the Balenciaga House made in its size, fabric and color of preference. They paid a price for being unique and exclusivity was the pillar of luxury. The rest of the world, who could not afford it, copied movie stars or magazine models. Some magazines, such as Burda, came with included pattern making so that the public could copy haute couture. (The publication was founded in 1949 by Aenne Burda, a visionary who made a family business a service for seamstresses published in 16 languages).
At the end of the 40, after the second world war with the massive arrival of ships with immigrants from Europe to America.
Singer sewing machines crammed their holds. Whole families moved from the old continent, devastated by the war, they needed a new beginning because the war left them without opportunities and with children to feed. Many women and some men had the job of sewing since they were children, even without speaking the language of the country they came to sew, they would feed them and that reason so distant and not so much made the whole world copy and copy styles, hairstyles, makeup and shorten or lengthen the skirt according to the masters of fashion from Paris disposed. They sewed without rest and copied everything with a perfection of high fashion.
Today, you just have to walk around clothing stores to see the results. Who copied, did they do something wrong? No. Was it illegal? Of course not. It was understood that luxury was to inspire. Until very recently fashion magazines fulfilled the role that influencers now assume: they were aspirational for some and caprices for others who traveled and bought originals.
When the brands detected the systematic copy of their collections – before they reached the sale – they prohibited the magazines from publishing their designs mixed with low-cost brands.
“It was understandable. They create, investigate, invest millions. They spend fortunes in promoting their garments, in opening stores and showrooms, “says an editor of Condé Nast:” And they would not stand to mix with copies of their pieces. “
But luxury has reversed the strategy and today follows the steps of the low-cost sector in the infinite world of social networking opportunities.
The low-cost is today the same necessary element that were the post-war seamstresses, who copied the patterns of haute couture. And your customers are not customers that lose big brands. Those who do consume luxury will continue to buy the original bag. From the consumer who can pay and value the design and quality to whoever saves to get to the product, they look for the original. Not twenty similar.
Paying five thousand euros for a bag that all carry in imitation version does not help. The consumer begins to ask himself the value of what he pays. Exclusively, little remains. It is inevitable to feel that the luxury industry has been wrong to load indispensable tools to justify their prices: mystery and discretion.
The luxury brands were also approaching low-cost brands, such as H & M and their collaborations with Balmain, Cavalli, Lanvin, and Versace. The expansion of luxury led to opening stores in unexpected places, with the need to reach new buyers and, consequently, more visibility. There was no other way out of the bubble. Networks fulfill their function: thanks to them, today everyone knows what the Boy, Neverfull, Lady, etc.
But here, precisely, there is the problem because it produces very large quantities: it puts the artisan in doubt. What was handmade by artisans justified the price. But it begins to end: as it has become impossible to produce for so many stores from their own workshops, they have begun to outsource to suppliers that also produce counterfeits. This volatile increase in product and sales has unwittingly contributed to the insolent growth of desire for copies.
A short-term vision
Using very badly the resource of the desire that belonged to them by tradition, the luxury brands have gained an untrustworthy public, the “new rich”. In return, they run the risk of losing the customer who made them unique, the customer who has paid twenty thousand euros per year for parts that have a much lower manufacturing cost.
The positive thing is that the few creators that are left to measure have begun to recover clients who do not let themselves be seduced by the new luxury. The negative thing is that counterfeiters are growing and perfecting themselves (according to the latest data, their profits surpass those of drug trafficking).
Traditional customers do not like to pay premium prices to standardize with mass consumers. For them, luxury must return to a strategy of discretion that justifies the price of exclusivity. Time will tell.