The aim of the session was to help producers contextualise production and plan for the future. David Shah contends that the future of luxury is, controversially, to buy nothing and states that ‘You can’t be a luxury goods brand per se, you need to be a niche luxury goods brand.’
He believes that the luxury goods client’s desire for product is intellectual and poetic, it goes beyond money, time and space, and is not really interested in mainstream fashion! Therefore, producers have to ask themselves if their product is life-changing and affirming? Can it de-clutter, simplify or assuage? Does it educate and create dialogue? Deliver an experience equal to that of watching the sun sink over the sea? All this would appear to complicate the picture for already beleaguered tanners around the world.
Luxury, according to Shah, is about the middle class, rather than the uber rich. There are 40 million new middle class people in India every year and they are ready to consume!
Shah stated that the ‘masstige’ market, (mass market prestige), driven by celebrity culture and simply copying from the catwalk was a mistake. According to Shah, his plumber is wearing Prada, a clear sign in his opinion that brands have become too public.
He says that consumers are becoming much more visually literate and, that as people have less and less leisure time, shopping has to become entertainment. However, when people are rich and have everything, what do you give them? The answer is rarity, for example one-off pieces. People are tiring of celebrity and slowing down. Now we are going back to content over style. Traceability is also a hot topic with the emphasis returning to the manufacturer rather than the brand.
In spite of all this, for 87% of people price remains the vital factor when purchasing apparel – so according to Shah synthetics still have their relevance. In particular Nanotech – fabrics that repel microbes – is the future.