03 October 2007

Mass luxury is just another takeout.

Earlier this year DIFFUSION (DIFFUSIONblog 7 May Status Abandonment) wrote about how the democratization of luxury brands seems to be destroying those aspects of a luxury brand (exclusivity, price, access, aesthetic) that denote them.

Now Newsweek fashion writer Dana Thomas's new book Deluxe:How Luxury Lost Its Luster serves to reinforce our belief that the pursuit of massive profit by the world's corpratised luxury goods conglomerates is truely blurring the distinction between luxury items and soap powder.

The gist of Thomas' book is that this pursuit of profit has only served to rob luxury brands of their essence. This is very much reflected in a recent report on the mass luxury market which told how LVMH's Bernard Arnault's decision in 1996 to take the company into the mass luxury market was really a question of both survival and growth.

Arnault argued that like haute couture, which has been static or in decline since the 50s, many of LVMH's luxury brands would eventually go the same way unless it embraced a form of market democratisation.

Thomas' book seems to confirm this, arguing that luxury brand owners like LVMH are well aware that their products have been so conflicted by this change that the drive for both profit and growth will mean it is going to be virtually impossible for them to turn around their vast behemoths and return to what is for many, a somewhat richer past.