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Luxury – Wallets To Dreams

No one needs luxury. Yet everyone wants it. It represents the most valued of mankind’s possessions. Luxury takes wallets to dreams.

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A magic that defies definition or the eternal pursuit of being better?

No one needs luxury. Yet everyone wants it. It represents the most valued of mankind’s possessions. Luxury takes wallets to dreams. ‘Getting luxury’ is a mindset. It is an acquired taste. For the same reasons why one can learn to tell from amongst varieties of cheese.

But since the world is changing at an unprecedented pace and extent, so must luxury. Today the definitive icon is a self-made super achiever. Her ascendancy has little to do with privilege or context but with value creation and qualifications. For such a super-achiever seeking experience are equally, if not more important than possessions. Brands also are seeking to be their own medium. With a global rise of affluence, there is a recognition that many more people can ‘do expensive’. Wallets can buy their way to any epic restaurant but one can walk into one's club without a wallet altogether.

This elevated state of being whilst being wedded to earthly delights is the essence of luxury.

For the ‘super-elites’, luxury has been a way of life from the advent of civilisation. In the modern sense, it got crystallised as a class characteristic in the post-renaissance period in Europe. In 1899, Thorstein Veblen used the description ‘conspicuous consumption’ in his profound work ‘The theory of the Leisure Class’.

Sociologists viewed the acquisition of luxury objects and its associated lifestyle as a socio-cultural phenomenon driven by hedonism or acquisition of social esteem. In Vance Packard’s ‘The hidden persuaders’ one can see a cumulative academic judgment that a luxury-seeking lifestyle is a shallow, materialistic drivenness. This hankering remains forever ungratified.

But most authorities on aesthetics, culture, art and social esteem will rubbish such a biased judgment. For them, luxury is beyond a badge or marker of superior quality. Luxury is elevated to an emotional essence, a cultural medium and – at its very highest – a self-perpetuating myth, even a philosophy.

Luxury can be seen in two ways at any time. An outer symbolism vs inner-directed pursuit. A statement of self as against an unconscious adherence to social class codes. A possession to play up one’s entitlement or the need to not be overt because everyone gets it.

No matter why you seek luxury be it quality, prestige, pleasure or status, it is ultimately to elevate, enrich and luxuriate oneself.

Buying luxury is being luxury, irrespective of the context and no matter what your depth of connection you are then part of an enigma, an aura, and a self-perpetuating mystique.

Every Yacht is an iceberg. The badging and the possession is only the manifestation of a deeper set of urges. These associations that act below the threshold are much more significant.

For me as a marketer, there is another perspective as well. I see the ‘longing’ as a need for ‘belonging’. A tribe of super achievers who are united with others who are equally unique.

This inaccessibility is the biggest brand strength. Not everyone can get in but everyone ‘wants in’.

The life behind velvet cordons is the boundary line. All desire it, only the very few deserve it.

Inside the cordon is a living benchmark of aspirational elitism. They are assumed to be folks who are cultural and creative sophisticates. A few who are inside the ring get evolved enough to be in the clique of tastemakers, trendsetters and those who define taste.

I will conclude by saying emotion and evocation are more important to understand than any physical, factual or substantial reasons. After all haute cuisine, exhibition art and performing arts are all spaces for enjoyment and delighting only the senses.

The image, aura, provocation, pride, inscrutability is felt without much being said. In a cruel irony, those who hunger most for luxury never get it. Those who climb up to get into the circle choose luxury brands to give their growth some gravitas. New money gets infected with the desire much before any claims to connoisseurship. It’s a marker to signal that they too are privileged and exceptional.

Those who belong, know it. The vast majority are made to admire from far away.

Those are the rules of the luxury game. Not all wallets buy dreams.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Shubhranshu Singh

The author is a global marketer, story teller, brand builder, columnist, and business leader. His interests include studying social change, impact of technology on consumer lives, understanding young consumers, history and politics.

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