How Are Luxury Brands Juggling the Paradox of Exclusivity and Inclusivity?
Following the recent online debut of their collaboration on the Prada Fall/Winter 2021 menswear collection, co-creative directors Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada engaged in a livestreamed conversation with college students from around the world, with students faces projected on enormous portrait screens, dwarfing the two designers.
One student from Ghana asked whether luxury can exist in the absence of wealth, noting that in his country local artisanal craft is most valued. Miuccia Prada responded that fashion must evolve to be more open and accessible, closing with, “If you have anything to propose, stay in touch!” That exchange between a student and the head of a global fashion powerhouse illustrates a new level of approachability and inclusivity that has been emerging in the luxury industry.
Social media opened the backstage doors to the once-exclusive realm, giving luxury labels much wider audiences. Young consumers have grown up accustomed to immediacy and transparency while prioritizing meaningful storytelling as they follow their favourite brands as if they were friends. Some 83% of millennials want brands to align with their own values. In China, set to become the biggest luxury market in the world by 2025, McKinsey reports that Gen Z already spend as much as their parents on luxury goods, while Bain & Co. and Farfetch predict that millennials will represent 40% of the global personal luxury goods market by 2025.
The transparent relatability that young audiences seek from brands has spread to other demographics as more consumers have been spending extra time online due to the coronavirus. Erwan Rambourg, a luxury analyst and the author of “Future Luxe: What’s Ahead for the Business of Luxury,” says that the trauma of the pandemic has pivoted attention to purpose over products. “Many luxury brands will want to come across as being welcoming, inclusive, friendly, approachable,” Rambourg told CCI. “Just because the price point and scarcity of some luxury items makes them hard to access, that doesn’t mean that the communication and PR needs to be exclusive.”
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