Monday, July 18, 2011
Out of curiosity, I looked up how many entries appear in Google for the word "luxury". Answer: 649.000.000.
I wonder about the way that word is used because I sometimes think that there is a fine line between luxury and ordinary.
Wikipedia gave me some answers: "With the clear differences between social classes in earlier civilizations, the consumption of luxury was limited to the elite classes... with increasing 'democratization' several new product categories were created within the luxury market which were aptly called 'accessible luxury' or 'mass luxury'". The problem seems to be defining what luxury stands for now that it has penetrated into the masses.
In Buenos Aires, most would agree that some items are symbols of luxury: some designer bags: Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Hermes Birkin bag (which by the way, has no wait list in Buenos Aires); some designer shoes: Jimmy Choo, Tori Burch and some Argentinian brands such as Perugia and Claude Bernard. Some designer watches (not people under 20 of course. They don't wear watches, what's the point? it only tells you the time) but for older: Cartier for women, Rolex for men, certain types of smart phones and tablets, cars, artists, the list is long and almost never ending.
Lists are longer in cities like NY, L.A., Miami or London to name a few. I've liked luxury brands and have been an avid consumer for a while, but the more I see these brands on everyone, the more I continue to seek new things, keeping an eye on CSR also. Of course, all of these items often represent conspicuous consumption and are sometimes consumed to demonstrate you have made money to acquire them.
In Paul Keer's book "A Gentleman's Wardrobe", he says: "Classic menswear is not about designer names; it commemorates great men. Its history is as much about common sense as dress sense".
He explains that the best clothes were used by the most senior of Englishmen. He says: "A gentleman will take care that his clothes are of the best quality, well-made and suitable to his rank and position".
Yes, it was people from England who invented the concept of tailor-made, cheers to that.
When I was traveling recently, I ran into a definition of luxury I was satisfied with, it is in Ines de la Fressange's book, Parisian Chic: "A true Parisian is uninterested in spending for its own sake and sporting labels to show for it". Her definition of luxury: "a brand that guarantees good taste, rather than an all too obvious price tag".
I guess that sums it up well: good taste; pretty things of extreme good quality that make us feel good, that are functional and that we are comfortable in without having the need to let everyone know about it.
Let us know your thoughts on luxe clothes and generic brands! We can also talk about luxury experiences if you want, in a future post.
Post: Valeria Mendez Cañas
Editor: Michelle Cameron
Photo: Jimmy Choo boots