Looking Back: Luxury
27 : 12 : 18

Over the course of 2018, affluent consumers shifted away from overt materialism, hospitality embraced local cultures and brand campaigns turned cinematic.

The Trend: Uneasy Affluence

Mutant Matter by Dutch Invertuals. Photography by Barbara Medo
Zizi Donohoe campaign. Photography by Nadia Lee Cohen
Hand Play by Jesper Lindborg

The dynamic among society’s wealthiest started to shift in 2018. Public backlash against overt displays of prosperity and privileged lifestyles drove a major re-assessment of what is considered appropriate today when it comes to luxury spending and investments, inspiring our 2018 luxury macrotrend Uneasy Affluence.

With affluent Millennial and Gen X consumers feeling increasingly anxious about how their moral worth is linked with their wealth, 2019 will see the concept of Uneasy Affluence continue to shape the products and services emerging from the luxury sector. Most recently, we have seen this with Chanel’s decision to no longer use exotic animal skins, the rise of high-end hospitality shaped by the sharing economy, such as the Ritz Carlton Residence’s Sharing Room in Miami, and lab-grown diamonds entering the mainstream as an ethical luxury alternative.

‘It’s creating a cultural shift,’ Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, author of 2017 book The Sum of Small Things, tells LS:N Global. ‘There’s a disdain towards overt materialism and a shying away from showing off wealth. It’s not attractive to show your social position in that way.’

The Big Idea: Top Tier Terminals

While airlines have been busy amplifying their first-class offeringsto attract wealthy fliers, this year saw the creation of luxury flying experiences that begin on the ground. The emergence of Top Tier Terminals revealed how companies are going the extra mile to elevate pre-boarding services.

At JFK, the soon-to-open TWA Hotel is putting a nostalgic twist on the frequently uninspiring airport hotel, taking cues from the 1960s with an in-room martini bar, mid-century furniture and a fleet of vintage cars to transport affluent guests to their terminal. Meanwhile, at Newark Liberty International airport, in-terminal dining has got an upgrade, with fresh fish flown in daily from Tokyo to serve customers at sushi bar Tsukiji Fishroom.

Elsewhere, luxury brands have bolstered airport duty free with exclusive goods. In China, for example, high-end jewellery and watch brand Cartier partnered with duty free retail specialist DFS Group to develop a collection of luxury watches offered only in the jewellery brand’s airport retail spaces.

TWA Hotel, New York. Photography by Max Touhey

The Campaign: The Everything by Kenzo

The EVERYTHING, Fall/Winter 2018 campaign by KENZO

Luxury campaigns took a dramatic twist in 2018, with cinematic experiences dominating brand communications. In the spring, Tiffany & Co.’s, musical-inspired short featuring actress Elle Fanning and rapper A$AP Ferg positioned the brand towards Millennial audiences, while in the autumn, Lexus brought together man and machine with Driven by Intuition, the first luxury campaign written by AI and directed by Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald.

However, it was Kenzo’s 30-minute campaign, The Everything, which set the bar for modern luxury communications. Drawing on the recent popularity of TV shows rooted in fantasy, The Everything took the concept of a fashion film to the next level. Starring Milla Jovovich as its mother figure, the narrative followed a clutch of teenage siblings trying to balance real life with having supernatural powers, each dressed in pieces from Kenzo’s collection.

At a time when luxury fashion creative directors are striving to stand out, it demonstrated the holistic vision of Kenzo’s co-creative director Humberto Leon, who directed the film. ‘I really wanted to give the audience something to feel. With The Everything I think that the viewer can actually walk away with something,’ he said.

The Interview: Vanessa Jacobs on luxury repairs

In July, we profiled The Restory, a British company working to make repairs an essential part of luxury goods retail. Highlighting the opportunities that a superior repairs service could offer brands and retailers, founder Vanessa Jacobs told LS:N Global: ‘There has long been pent-up demand for repairs and restoration of goods, but it has just been affected by skills atrophy and the lack of investment by brands into the experience of having something repaired, or aligning repairs with the retail space…That’s where The Restory steps in.’

Beyond increasing the longevity of a product, convenience and sustainability have also become USPs of The Restory, which in 2018 launched a drop-off counter at luxury department store Harvey Nichols in London’s Knightsbridge. ‘We are transforming restoration into a lifestyle and making it part of the ownership experience,’ Jacobs explains.

Looking ahead, the company plans to roll its service out at an international level, and hopes to work even more closely with luxury goods brands. ‘There's a whole world that happens after the purchase that brands don't see, so it’s about showing them what they’ve not been paying attention to.’

The Restory, UK

The Space: The Jaffa

The Jaffa, Tel Aviv, photography by Amit Geron The Jaffa, Tel Aviv, photography by Amit Geron

Luxury hotels have embarked on a new path this year, with heritage buildings and native craftsmanship helping bringing local identities to life at a luxury level.

The opening of The Jaffa in Tel Aviv represented this new type of carefully-curated hotel, with architect John Pawson, who worked on its transformation telling LS:N Global: ‘We drew from local, not necessarily obvious things. We photographed the walls of Jaffa and then we stretched them to create this almost stripy wallpaper. We did the same thing with the rugs, the throws on the bed, and of course, the design of the furniture for the rooms and its objects.’

Describing how, as a guest, he personally tidies away the pamphlets and menus often found in hotel rooms, Pawson hinted that the future of luxury hospitality could lie in simplicity. ‘There are people who wanted – and still want – something wacky or very different in the hotel or in their room. But when you’re paying quite a bit of money for a room, the gimmick wears thin very quickly, doesn’t it? Perhaps luxury hotels will go back to focusing on less, but better.’

Download our Future Forecast 2019 report

Now that you know the best in the year for fashion, find out what is on the horizon for 2019. Download our Future Forecast 2019 report here.

Future Forecast 2019 Future Forecast 2019
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