When asked ‘What is Luxury’ the majority of people will answer ‘time’ – Luxury is time and time is luxury. Beautifully crafted things take time—whether wine, watches, a perfectly turned piece of furniture or, of course, a beautifully hand-made pair of shoes.
Although fast-fashion is still very much in existence, I do feel—with a frisson of excitement—there has been a shift in the system. Those interested in luxury are caring more than ever about the provenance of whatever they may be buying into. In fact, those who are in the know about craftsmanship are choosing to buy into the best of the best, rather than big-branded fashion or flash in the pan trends. There is a hunger—certainly from the Country Life reader—for more of the good stuff, and we have been expanding the luxury content within the magazine (gently of course) over the last 10 years. I am seeing a new desire for private travel, bespoke experiences, one-of-a-kind pieces and beautifully crafted accessories, which all tell a story through a rich heritage.
Family companies like Crockett & Jones are holding the reins—their history is their super power.
It takes many years (139 in fact) to build up a reputation like theirs— something newer brands would kill for, and one of the few things money can’t buy—a testament to why customers flock from all over the world to taste the best in traditional shoe making. It seems that now, customers across the luxury market like to know a bit more about what they are buying into. They aren’t just spending on something pretty for pretty’s sake but want to truly know how something is crafted and the heritage behind the craft to add depth to their purchase, making for much better dinner party chat too of course.
The main source of change is of course the Internet. People across the globe can now educate themselves at the touch of a button, meaning they can swiftly do their research and make an informed purchase within minutes. Websites create the ideal platform to showcase a company and what they stand for. British brands really forge the way when it comes to educating on crafts, there is Walpole which nurtures the next generation of British luxury and QEST which supports the training of talented and aspiring craftspeople of all ages, helping sustain traditional British craftsmanship. Our very own Royal Family is a huge supporter of all things with a Made in Britain stamp, the family themselves being perhaps the classic example of British luxury with a fine heritage?
Social media platforms now provide the ideal opportunity to educate those who are interested in luxury goods but who may not have the time to head to the library (or let’s be honest; inclination). Fashion is a huge business on Instagram and many companies see a vast number of direct sales coming through the social media platform. Powerful stuff.
Craft based companies are, much to my delight, holding their own in a market saturated with machine-made products.
There is now more of a yearning for bespoke and made-to-measure, whether this is simply being able to monogram some shoes, bed linen or leather accessories or to completely design them yourself from scratch. A hands-on approach is now expected—you can travel to Switzerland to see your own watch being made, head to a factory just outside London to see how they put together a Purdey shotgun or perhaps even make the pilgrimage to Northampton to soak up the atmosphere in the shoe-making capital of the country. Life is made up of experiences, and in the luxury market consumers are certainly expecting experiential stuff—it makes for excellent Instagram postings after all.