The Future of Luxury
By Jaclyn Lupo
Undoubtedly, millennials and Generation Z are changing traditional consumer habits. We stopped going to department stores and started connecting with brands on a personal level. Social media influencers began dictating trends, and the pressure to get lots of likes on photos convinced us that we needed to constantly have the newest things.
When I reflect on the practicality of the luxury market, it shocks me how young adults, myself included, are willing to spend an excessive amount on a single item. On the surface, it seems ridiculous to even consider dropping a few hundred on a belt or t-shirt. However, I’ve learned that buying a luxury item goes beyond the physicality of that piece.
I’m no foreigner to the lust of the luxury market. When I was in high school I spent the majority of my savings from babysitting on a pair of Alexander McQueen sunglasses. They are a rounded black frame with small silver details. My favorite part of course is the authenticity of the McQueen engraving. After being influenced by Blair Waldorf’s and Serena Van Der Woodsen’s expensive shopping trips on Gossip Girl, the luxury market seemed like more of an investment into my identity than my wardrobe. The high-class status associated with name brands is essentially an exclusive club that you instantly gain access to once you make your first purchase.
I won’t deny it, I love those sunglasses with all my heart. They are probably my favorite thing I own. However, my wallet hated me for about a year after I coughed up that $500.00 price tag.
As a newcomer to the luxury world, I have instantly been swept away. I set a portion of my earnings aside to go towards a Chanel crossbody bag each month after I brought those sunglasses. I excitingly imagined myself sporting such a classic purse. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The economy essentially stopped as travel halted and stores closed their doors for approximately three months. Buying habits were then forced to shift; with parents working from home, nobody needed a babysitter anymore so my income stream ended. Saving up for that purse just didn’t seem realistic anymore. I expected that the luxury craze would dramatically cease.
For a short while, during the heat of the wave, the luxury market saw a harsh pause. With no runway shows, no personalized shopping experiences, and no places to go, people couldn’t justify splurging during the crisis.
But, the luxury market is recovering, and this time it’s coming back better than ever. With new marketing strategies, brands like Gucci and Prada are finding ways to foster an intimate connection with consumers through technology. Exclusivity is what sets high fashion apart from any other, and with that, a personalized experience should follow whether that be in person or online. Luxury has the potential to deliver a customized product that is unlike any other, so brands platforms need to make that feature accessible. It’s also important that luxury products are produced in small batches with a hyped pre-sale to excite customers. Along with that, extremely high-quality goods are expected in turn for the steep price tag, so brands mustn’t cut corners on production to make a higher profit. Additionally, as the world becomes increasingly technologically reliant, it’s becoming more and more important that luxury companies develop a unique online presence that gives the customer a sense of fulfillment they would find in store. Considering that many people are choosing to shop online, unboxing has become an experience within itself. To satisfy customers, brands are focusing more on how they can package their products so that when it arrives at your address, you feel special.
Despite the craziness this year has served, Business of Fashion predicts that by 2025 Gen Z and millennials will make up 45% of the luxury market. With celebrities sporting the latest and greatest items all over Instagram, young adults want to be apart of the luxury club. Not only that, the luxury market is constantly collaborating with cool brands that instantly turn into the hottest collectible items. Let’s look at Supreme, for example. On the surface, this streetwear brand makes logoed products, that in my opinion are nothing special. However, the company is brilliant in regards to who they team up with, establishing a tremendous amount of exposure and motivating customers to keep coming back for more.
Gen Z and the millennials are not only changing how we shop, but they are bringing awareness to how products are made, and what this means for the environment and humanity. The term “sustainability” has become trendy, but when taken seriously, it means that a consumer item is made to last and to be less harmful to the planet. This is critical as the climate crisis worsens. For the luxury market to keep growing, sustainability needs to become a priority. Unfortunately, a more expensive product does not guarantee that it is made ethically. It’s 2020, and sweatshops are still an issue. Be the change by choosing to support brands that are producing their products consciously! Do your research before handing over your credit card. Because of this increased concern with the effects of production and consumerism on the environment, the resale market is booming. With second-hand shopping being the more sustainable option, sites like the TheRealReal are thriving yet again.
The luxury market is all about connecting with products on a personal level. It’s about identifying yourself with a brand’s values and using its items to become foster your authentic self. The emphasis is always on the new and the now, and luxury brands are amazing at creating products that are distinguished and conversational. People who shop for luxury are shopping for investment pieces. I do not doubt that the future of luxury in the USA is bright. Gen Z and millennials are more willing to spend more money on products than ever before. These generations want to invest in themselves, especially so they can take awesome pictures for their social media pages. We’re changing the world to celebrate individuality, and fortunately, the luxury market allows us to curate a unique wardrobe. What will you be saving for next?
Jaclyn Lupo is an editorial writer passionate about fashion, sustainability and culture.