In today’s world of cut and paste, instant gratification, and digital delivery, luxury is hard to define. A century ago, luxury was all about exclusivity; luxury was the rarest of the rare and the restrictively expensive. Now, modern luxury takes on a new form, a more accessible and fluid form that can be interpreted in a huge variety of ways. A shift in the perception of who can own luxury has sparked a resurgence in the luxurious.
This change in definition has many designers confused; it begs the question: what is luxury? What happened to the exclusive luxury of days gone? How can you bring a touch of luxury to your home without breaking the bank? Can it even be considered a luxury if you have a budget?
In days of old, luxury was an exclusive concept. Luxury was not just a material used on your lounge or a brand of sunglasses; it was a goal to aspire too. Luxury divided, to be luxurious, was to be rich, relaxed, and grandiose. For an item to be considered luxurious, it had to be untouched by the unwashed masses, and solely in the domain of the ultra-wealthy.
When applied to a homes design, luxury was built into the walls, literally. Ornate and sprawling, full of bespoke furnishings and breathtaking sights, luxury was a show of status and success. Furniture was almost always custom-built, with the best of the best materials, often built more for the look than the utility.
Fashion followed a similar blueprint to home design, with exclusive, one-off pieces being the height of luxury. Luxury brands had complete control over their image; this opacity is usually adding the brand’s mystique and luxury appeal.
Times have changed, and ostentatious displays of wealth are seen to be more divisive than impressive. Consumers want more transparency in the brands they buy, and this includes luxury items. Luxury remains a popular concept, and an element of wealth still dominates luxury brands.
Luxury in modern times means having style and substance; it means standing out from the crowd. Can a pair of Gucci slides be considered luxury if they are mass-produced and sold by the thousands? Luxury now is more personal; someone of modest wealth can enjoy luxury and set trends.
Modern luxury also sees a move towards comfort, with plush materials prized luxury ingredients. In your home, luxury can be added by unique furnishings, even if they are mass-produced. The Mia 3 seater leather lounge with chaise from Domayne is a perfect example of modern luxury. Premium materials, with that certain “spark” needed to evoke feelings of grandeur and luxury.
Above all, luxury remains a concept, a way of life to aspire too. Despite economic downturns and an increasingly hostile attitude towards the super-rich, luxury is still chased by everyday people from all walks of life. Designer brands are now entering streetwear markets, at lower price points to sell more units. This seems to fly in the face of luxury, but the idea has proven insanely popular. Luxury and taste now blur together, making your personal selection more important than your bank account.
Luxury makes you feel good; it makes you feel worldly and distinct. No longer solely about exclusion, luxury can be had by the masses now, with quality furnishing and distinguished design firms going global. There is still room in this world for $40000 handbags and $5000 bottles of wine, but as the world matures and its inhabitants become more connected, the days of uber-exclusivity and splashy displays of wealth are over, at least for now.