Look around and try to count how many stimuli are competing for your attention as you begin to read this article. How many “to-dos” are preventing you from focusing on this text that’s on your screen? And what if your cellphone rings? How many posts are eagerly awaiting your “like”, today alone?
We live in a world of excesses and the way we are brought up is increasingly focused on the habit of consuming. I notice that before children even take their first steps, they already have fully decorated bedrooms, a wardrobe that leaves them prepared for any occasion, and such a busy schedule that a visit from a family member can only get squeezed in three months down the line. These children grow up believing it is normal to have everything, and become frustrated adults.
Every day we are barraged with advertising, endless varieties of products, sales, so-called “must haves”, and output from publishers that resemble a retail menu with the intermittent message of owning and accumulating. And this culture of excess has transformed everything into the commonplace.
Luxury can be everything that is not ordinary, but it must also show signs of the energy expended, exclusivity, and frivolity.
Consuming a “luxury” product often corresponds to a desire for inclusion or affirmation of identity, which are basic needs and therefore cease to be a luxury. What is the daily routine for one person can be a massive extravagance for someone else, which affirms that we are talking about a relative concept.
It seems funny to me this current idea that time is the new luxury. Even though we get lost trying to manage it, time is an abundant resource available to everybody (in other words, far from exclusive), and more than necessary, this is the element that defines our human condition.
I also notice some confusion about premium products. Quality and high prices are not sufficient to label a luxury item. Massification and large-scale production make me doubt the level of uniqueness of certain acquisitions. I have a suspicion that Louis Vuitton has more stores spread across the world than a fast fashion business like Topshop, for example.
It is hard to put a price tag on a masterpiece, just like products that reach the status of works of art. In this context, it is acceptable when a woman decides to acquire a very expensive bag. Now, if she decides she needs 100 bags, regardless of the price, this indeed is an exaggeration.
The gluttonous habits and great feasts of the Middle Ages, when a single victorious soldier would be served quantities that could feed 20 people, were well-known codes of luxury. Since the French Revolution, and reinforced by the health and wellness trends of the 1970s, gastronomy has moved away from the notion of excess.
In a few years, the image of an insecure woman standing in front of a shoe-packed closet will seem as strange to us as those of the gluttons in Ancient Greece who ate lying down so they could faint as soon as they had eaten their fill.
The next generation of luxury consumers is already in line with this new consciousness. Notions of monarchy and heritage no longer speak to these young people, who have traded karats for gigabytes and seek out brands that invite them to look to the future, rather than symbols that remain stuck in past greatness.
At a time when any product can immediately be copied when it is launched, luxury means understanding the spirit of time and providing an experience which is in line with the new codes. It is a harmonious combination provoking the feeling that your presence, right here, right now, is what makes the difference.
Luxury doesn’t go well with anxiety; it is a concept that requires space, time and relevance. You go out to dinner at a restaurant where the service is well-considered, the food is delicious and in proportion with your hunger; your favorite drink is waiting for you in a glass, and the lighting makes you look good. Luxury is precision. It is more about the experience than about the material.
It is just like an amazing trip that exceeds all of our expectations, broadening our horizons and leaving a true legacy in our memory. It is an object that best represents your world view. It is the architecture of a house designed for you, that endures and respects your history and remarkable memories, and gives hints of your future dreams. Exclusivity comes from your protagonism. It’s yours exclusively. And remember: all this comes with no need to share it on the social networks.
Article originally published in Wish magazine