Luxe Amok

November 1998

Professional Insider:Trend Spotting

Luxe Amok

"Luxury" is the buzz word of the season, applied to everything from clothing to shaving cream

Think twice before adopting "luxury" as a description for your goods or store. The term is overused and misused almost everywhere you look this fall, threatening to dilute the meaning of true luxury goods. Once the fashion world tires of it, the term luxury will have lost its original meaning and could even become dated.

The hefty September issue of Harper's Bazaar manages to apply the term evenly and with no detectable sense of irony to a $5,600 Christian Dior gown and a $375 wool turtleneck (expensive, yes, but luxury? It's a turtleneck). It even features an advertising insert called "Personal Luxuries" that includes a $100 silverplated cuff bracelet from midpriced fashion purveyor Anne Klein.

It's not just the Bazaar folks who've gone luxury loco. Over at Elle, the editors have caught the luxury bug too, calling a $317 V-necked sweater with mink trim luxurious. In September's House & Garden, the luxury moniker is attached to a $22,800 Patek Phillipe gold pocket watch, Sno-Kones, animal crackers and metal window screens.

Marketers have also jumped on the luxury bandwagon – most of the major fashion magazines carry an ad from sportswear maker Dana Buchman for her own "Luxe" line. From another corner comes Luxe shaving cream, "inspired by precious seeds."

If consumers take the bait and consider anything and everything luxurious, you'll have a hard time using the term persuasively to sell real luxury goods. For your truly top-of-the-line watches and jewels, sell the timeless qualities of beauty, workmanship and value. If you choose to join the now-fashionable "luxury" fray, aim that message at your aspirational customers, the ones for whom a sterling necklace from a name designer may be a splurge. But be ready for the "luxury" wave to flow out of vogue, and even out of Vogue.

– by Liz Smutko




Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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