4 Minute Read

Why ‘Luxury’ Doesn’t Mean the Same Thing to Modern Consumers

Written by Weavabel, published 03/10/22 09:00

Luxury is a word we’re all familiar with, yet it means many different things to different people. Defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as ‘something expensive that is pleasant to have but is not necessary’, what does it stand for in today’s fashion climate?

We’re entering an era of ‘new luxury’ — a term defining the social shift that perceives what luxury is. Keep reading to find out what ‘new luxury’ is and how the definition of luxury fashion has changed in recent years.



What Is New Luxury?

As the world develops, digitalisation accelerates and the average consumer becomes more informed, luxury fashion as we know it is changing. What was once only accessible to high society and the elite, new luxury is becoming much more attainable for the everyday consumer.


Defined by High Snobiety, ‘The New Luxury isn’t just about what you wear, but also what you know.’ In essence, it’s become much more than just status and quality. Sustainability and ethics have now come into the mix.


Luxury consumers are now seeking more emotional fulfilment from their purchases. They want authentic, ethical, unique, exclusive and personalised experiences. Sustainability is also a key point as consumers become more eco-conscious; sustainability is increasingly becoming a factor in almost every purchasing decision.


How Has the Definition of 'Luxury' Changed?

Luxury fashion has moved from a top-down to a bottom-up approach.

In the past, traditional luxury was defined by the elite — what they were buying, what they were bringing back from overseas and what the luxury fashion houses were dictating as luxury. 

Often associated with detailed craftsmanship, premium quality and a strong status, luxury fashion comes with an expensive price point thanks to the exclusivity of the fashion.

Today, your everyday consumer informs what luxury fashion brands have to offer. Influenced by the digital world, the need for increased sustainability and better connections, we’re seeing a democratisation of luxury.

While new luxury still displays status, it’s more accessible. People can rent a Ferrari for the weekend. Iconic streetwear brands are partnering with high fashion houses. Top-end designers are collaborating with high street retailers. 

What was once associated with opulence, animal furs and exclusive department stores, new luxury is defined by social trends, wider societal views, social media and more.

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Luxury and the Modern Consumer

So, how do luxury and the modern consumer go together? In a world of social media, digital sharing and catwalks, people have more of a voice. But does this actually pose a threat to luxury fashion?

Gen Z is often seen as a threat to traditional luxury retailers. As one of the younger generations, Gen Z holds less financial wealth than other consumers, but this doesn't mean they have less impact on the luxury fashion industry.

Excessive prices for products that don't hold any other value beyond status are being rejected by Gen Z consumers. To tackle this, luxury retailers are collaborating with more accessible retailers, with products at more affordable price points — something that isn't often synonymous with traditional luxury.


The 'Luxury' Conclusion

What was once a status symbol defined by exclusivity has now become something driven by consumer opinion and youth-identified trends. Luxury is no longer something gated by high fashion houses and expensive price points but something that's accessible to all.

And it isn't just about the brand name sewn into the collar or emblazoned on the garment. Consider the quality, story and sustainability credentials behind a product that make it what it is and creates the overall experience.


Ultimately, new luxury is the whole experience, not just the product. Unboxing, eco-credentials, fabrics, material, brand and morals all play their part in defining luxury.


Add Luxury to Your Brand Experience

As luxury becomes increasingly about the intangible experience, premium branding holds more importance than ever in the new luxury experience.

To give your branding and packaging the luxury treatment or explore the possibilities available, head to our Earth in Mind Collection page to get inspired.

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