by: Idris Mootee


Here's
a piece by Morgan Gerald, it is an interesting piece so I decided to
post it here. So you know, Morgan is an anthropologist (he holds BA, MA
and PhD in Anthropology) and has a special interest in youth culture.
He spends a lot of time hanging out in malls observing teen and youth's
behavior. Interesting job, right?



Morgan_2In
Grade 10, I had a friend who liked to make loud farting noises in
French class and who once did something relevant to the current luxury
crisis, transformation or challenge.

Over the weekend, my friend visited every store on Yonge Street in
Toronto that sold Zod Lacoste. In dressing rooms and on display floors,
he used an exacto knife to perform a little brand surgery and, arriving
at school Monday morning, proudly showed us all his new t-shirt,
complete with over 100 safety-pinned alligators. Even though he had
long hair and listened to Ozzy, we all thought that was pretty fxxking
punk rock!

20 years later that same aesthetic is back, maybe in a bigger way than ever. Some hints?

COUNTERFEIT

On Canal St. in
NYC or at the corner of Brimley & Sheppard in Toronto, there are
more locations selling knock-offs of luxury goods than there are
Barney's, Bloomingdales and Holt Renfrews times 1000. If brands are
signs and not just products, need we look for any more proof than here?
And if consumers can't make an authentic connection with a brand
(translate, in this case: afford it) you can bet they'll steal it. Will
counterfeit chic come to rear its pirate head in the near fashion
future?

THE MECONOMY

A
report from Amsterdam-based trendwatching.com predicts 2008 as the year
of the 'meconomy' (as opposed to the me-too economy of
aspirationalism). Why?

- a disdain for big-box retailers

- a loss of faith in the cost of luxury goods.

- a feeling that luxury brands have flopped on their promise by sometimes producing less-than-stellar quality goods

- luxury house are run by brand managers rather than designers

- luxury brands have diluted their exclusivity (Lagerfeld at H&M, anyone?).

One
effect, according to the report, is a desire to tell more personal
brand stories through odder, more obscure and more curated puchases
made from local, independent retailers and designers.

Image

STREETWEAR

With
its focus on obscure brands (1-man lifestyles like A-Ron), Customized
and Limited Edition and Artist Series remixes of standards (hundreds of
Air Force 1 variations since 1982), and personal tweaks on product
templates (Nike I.D.), streetwear will drive more consumers towards
purchasing personal and defining brand space through exclusivity.

Traditional
luxury brands have a place in that space (streetwear's musical arm, hip
hop, made that obvious in breaking Prada, Gucci, LV, Moet to the
mainstream), but only if they jive with core value placed on heritage
and on the core aesthetic of curating one's style by mixing &
matching high and low cultures of Paris runways and NYC streets.

Online
continues driving core consumers towards new products from afar (www.hypebeat.com for the world) but don't forget the 'street' in
streetwear: some exclusivities and subcultural luxuries are available
only to the hyper-local consumer.

THE 100 MILE CONSUMER

Forget
'Can I afford luxury?' With increased environmental and social
concerns, more and more consumers could be asking themselves, Can we
afford luxury?

Big
cities are seeing this with top chefs tailoring (curating, again) menus
to fit meat and produce available locally and seasonally. Where a
luxury food market has sprouted from the soil of organic green beans
grown on farms outside city limits and then sold at the Farmer's Market
in the local park for 3x times the price of green beans in the grocery
store, so too might a similar scenario emerge in established luxury
brands and products.

Will
fashion designer Arthur Mendonca become even more popular among
consumers in his home city of Toronto because he and his labor are
local? Will future car purchases be influenced by the proximity of the
manufacturing plant? Will vacations be taken closer to home so as not
to jet-fuel the environment? 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK?

What
are the "unobtainables" that your brands or products are based on? I'll
pass on that one when it comes to traditional luxury and where Web 2.0
fits into marketing them because buying online, making messages too
public and SNSing with just anybody about the $52,500 Louis Vuitton
Patchwork bag seem to contradict the anti-massness of luxury.

Instead, I'll run with life-caches and life-streams as a luxury performance category.

- start with biographies of clients: income, status, life cycle, goals, social concerns

-
meet the needs of clients paring down purchases and simplifying lives
by helping them decide what Best Things In Life are worth holding on to
or attaining

-
help them create 'most' experiences (vacations that are the most
exotic, extreme, relaxing, educational, wine & food-oriented) and
'best' services (financials where stocks and funds are in collaboration
with their level of social consciousness)

-
customize service in Luxury Offsetting for clients in New York that
want to buy German cars, French wine and Italian purses but feel a need
to compensate (Don't plant any tree just anywhere - pay for Pinot Gris
vines or a locally-sustaining crop to be planted in the upper New York
State region of your choice) 

-
dig deep into those biographies to curate those 'most' and 'best' so
clients can access not only the cultural capitals of high culture but
also the subcultural capitals (coolness, obscurity, localisms,
underground-ness, hyper-speed taste-making, activism etc.) of the 'low'
and 'mass' cultures of the street and Internet.

Top Photo: Coolhunter (www.coolhunter.net) Bottom Photo: Louis Vuitton Art Show Paris Store

Original Post: http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2007/09/luxury-brand-ma.html

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