To accurately speculate on what the future of luxury holds, we have to narrow down our perspective to how things are currently looking. What is the current state of luxury? Over the past few years, it could be argued that the industry has undergone a paradigm shift. There are many reasons why this has happened, and one of the main reasons that still sits at the forefront of inspiring change within the industry is global warming. The new legislation, increased media coverage and political movements like Extinction Rebellion are ensuring that sustainability and climate action is far from a trend: it’s a necessity for humanity’s survival.
Historically, the industry has been more likened to indulgence and excess (in addition to quality and craftsmanship) than it has sustainability. That being said, brands are now making huge efforts to reconsider their production methods as well as where they choose to source their materials from in order to create positive and sustainable changes to their approach. Millennials, who currently represent about 32% of the market, are driving this change: by 2025, they will make up 50%.
With this in mind, what does the future of luxury goods look like?
Many brands continue to wrestle with the newfound expectations of sustainability that have been placed on them. Even though luxury brands have an advantage over fast-fashion companies - in that their products are purchased for longevity rather than being temporary and disposable like their inexpensive counterparts - luxury retailers are finding that in order to keep up, they need to satiate the consumers’ ever-growing appetite for sustainable products.
This isn’t just about the consumer either - sustainability in luxury has to focus on the bigger picture too, all the while catering to consumer needs, which are constantly changing. This is why it is so difficult to truly understand what the future of luxury looks like - it’s a balancing act between doing the right thing for the greater good of the world whilst also doing right by shoppers. That being said, many online luxury destinations have chosen to make sustainability more visible on their respective website, proving that there’s an obvious demand for it. Transparency is reigning king, and in this age of philanthropic luxury retail, upscale brands are starting to provide a positive contribution to their ecosystem.
Luxury brands like Tiffany & Co are repositioning themselves in order to embrace this change and build sustainable luxury into their narratives. The diamonds industry has previously come under fire for bringing conflicts to communities in Africa. In order to positively change the perception, the high-end brand became one of the first big jewellery names to source metals and diamonds from responsible mining companies. Tiffany has now gone on record to state their zero-tolerance policy for purchasing diamonds from countries with human rights infringements.
That’s not all. The high-end mechanical watch brand we all know and love, Rolex, has also made a difference to the world with their ongoing awards program. With the Rolex Award for Enterprise, the luxury watch brand awards a cash prize to entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 30 for projects that are bringing about a positive environmental or cultural change.
Another major movement within the luxury industry which could see further development in the future is collaboration. Collaborations are a great opportunity for brands to corroborate their relevance within the market, and crossovers between brands often take the consumer by surprise as the outcome of the end product is usually very unique. This helps brands stay ahead of the curve, but it also allows them to deeply entrench their roots in the industry whilst staying true to their heritage. We firmly believe in the power and opportunity that collaborations can bring to brands, and merging the ideas and ethos of two different companies can often birth truly original end products. Just take the Oxbridge Watches as an example!
These kinds of collaborative efforts will secure the future of luxury, as it will encourage continuous innovation amongst brands as well as healthy and constructive competition within the market. Approaches towards sustainable luxury and socially conscious innovation are also exactly what the luxury industry needs. Ultimately, sustainable incentives by well-known luxury brands are likely to build awareness around sustainability and conscious impact, and it is encouraging to see luxury brands leading by example in this way. Even though the world of luxury, amongst other industries, has been under pressure to do so, it is clear to see that concerns of global warming and climate change haven’t fallen flat on deaf ears.
This is also where collaboration could be incredibly useful. At the end of the day, brands can always learn from each other, and the bringing together of different company cultures can often lead to incredibly successful collaborative efforts. This applies not only to the end product but also to the development of conscious efforts to operate in the name of a greater good. If anything, it goes to show that a pool of heads can often save luxury companies from brand dilution and customer fatigue, all the while developing new incentives to operate more ethically.