Luxury can be seen to be a state of great comfort or elegance, especially, when involving great expense.
In fashion, however, it’s more than that. In addition to comfort and elegance, luxury is exclusivity, satisfaction and status. Through the ages and across cultures, luxury fashion brands have successfully offered value, elegance and status to the people who could afford them with brands maintaining and improving their brand aesthetics.
Gucci, Versace, Fendi, Burberry, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana are popular luxury brands. Some of the luxury brands are owned by conglomerates like Gucci which is owned by Kering; LV, Givenchy, Dior owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH). Some are privately owned just like Chanel.
Millennials are fast becoming the new consumers of luxury, bringing their lifestyles, attitudes and tastes in their shopping experience which is completely different from that of the generation before us. What happens to the luxury market – an industry built on heritage and traditions?
According to the Financial Times, “millennials are the world’s most powerful consumers“. With this information in public, we’ve seen luxury brands apply major changes – like changing their logos in an attempt to redefine luxury and win over the millennial consumers.
Understanding Millennials and Their Tastes
Also known as Generation Y or Gen Y, millennial is a term used to recognise people born between the early 1980s to the mid-1990s or early 2000s. Unlike the older generations, millennials are less interested in exclusivity which is a traditional selling point for luxury brands. They are more interested in impressing themselves than others and having valuable experiences. Millennials crave passion and purpose, so to keep up, luxury brands need to align their brand aesthetics and story with these values in order to win over the “world most powerful consumers“.
The Way Forward
Sustainability and Transparency
Research shows that the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful in terms of pollution. Recently, Burberry was criticised for burning $40m worth of unsold items rather than selling them at a discount in an attempt to maintain the brand’s exclusive status. Brands like Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, Gucci are known as pioneers of sustainability. Gucci proved their commitment to sustainability and transparency when they established the Gucci Equilibrium a program “designed to connect people, plant and purpose”. Millennials want to buy from sustainable brands.
Issues like racism, gender inequality, sexuality, food and water security, religious conflicts are of great importance to millennials. Dolce & Gabanna faced a major backlash when an Ad campaign promoting their runway show in Shanghai was deemed racist by the Chinese, an issue they’re still dealing with its consequences. In order to get the millennials interested, brands need to clearly communicate their positive stands on these social issues.
E-commerce is a way to reach the millennials faster. Luxury brands like Balmain are already capitalising on this. According to Deloitte, 20.5% of millennials referred to social media as their main source of luxury and high-end fashion trends compared to the 15.1% who cited brand websites. Hence, to win millennial consumers, luxury brands need to expand their reach from the traditional brick and mortar retail to e-commerce especially social media.
Photo Source: Images are off the IG page of the featured brands.