Looking Back in 2020: Luxury
27 : 12 : 20

In 2020, digital acceleration pushed luxury brands onto new platforms, while a moral reckoning altered shoppers’ outlook, writes luxury lead Kathryn Bishop.

The Trend: Omnilux Lifestyles

 Mas Creations by Masquespacio, Spain  Mas Creations by Masquespacio, Spain
 Mas Creations by Masquespacio, Spain  Mas Creations by Masquespacio, Spain
 Mas Creations by Masquespacio, Spain  Mas Creations by Masquespacio, Spain

In a year when access to luxury, customer experience and attainment took on new forms, our macrotrend Omnilux Lifestyles revealed why the luxury experience of the future will no longer rely on tactile human-to-human moments.

In turn, brands will move away from their reliance on physical, high-touch service and surrounds, as the pandemic has shown that luxury can exist in entirely digital realms, providing anytime attainment, anywhere in the world.

Moving into 2021, we can anticipate luxury brands, goods and services will adapt and follow customers in their daily routines. Travel brands will pre-empt luxurians' health needs before each trip, aspirational affluents will shop via virtual malls or augmented experiences, while others will build sustainable, high-spec homes at the click of a mouse.

‘Going forward, it’s not China that’s the next big luxury market, it’s actually going to be the virtual world,’ explains Andy Ku, founder of Unmatereality. ‘What we are doing to digitise luxury brands is really, truly democratising the whole luxury experience.’

The Big Idea: Heritage Refashioned

Coutts by FutureBrand Coutts by FutureBrand

Driving a new era of Heritage Refashioned, this year the luxury sector began to look inwards to address and change the meaning of heritage beyond its colonial connotations.

Indeed, luxury houses that have long relied on the glorification of their heritage in their marketing are rethinking this approach in today’s sociopolitically aware and self-educated consumer climate.

This comes as luxurians become more aware and informed of the luxury sector’s links to colonialism, the exploitation of resources and the slave trade,with global firms challenged to openly address their past in order to commit to betterment.

One example is diamond mining company De Beers, whose founder Cecil Rhodes was a key figure in British imperialism in the late 1800s. In response to a campaign for the removal of his statue from the University of Oxford, modern-day De Beers is making a stand in agreement. In a statement, the company says: ‘Cecil Rhodes was one of our founders in 1888. We reject what he stood for, and while we can’t rewrite that history, we can bear the responsibility of history to build a better legacy.’

The Campaign: Louis Vuitton’s LinkedIn runway livestream

Louise Vuitton Women's Spring/Summer 21 Fashion Show, Paris

A campaign that pointed to the Omnilux future of brand communication and audience outreach landed in October 2020, when French luxury house Louis Vuitton chose LinkedIn as its platform of choice to stream its Paris Fashion Week show.

Rounding off the spring/summer season in Paris, the decision to choose LinkedIn as a business platform where fashion buyers can congregate, alongside consumer audiences. 'A lot of new windows and perspectives are opening,' said Nicholas Ghesquière, creative director at Louis Vuitton. ‘It’s another step towards globality, and I guess that’s absolutely necessary. We’ve sometimes made people feel excluded. So probably, it’s a way to include more people in what we do.’

Alongside a select number of in-person attendees, the show – held at iconic Parisian store La Samaritaine – integrated individual cameras with a 360-degree view, each representing a digital guest. Throughout the building, green screens allowed for trapeze artists, magicians, and other images to be projected into the space – resulting in a phygital experience curated for both in-person and virtual attendance.

The Interview: Deepali Nandwani on India’s new luxury mindsets

Shefali’s Studio specialising in authentic Indian couture, India Shefali’s Studio specialising in authentic Indian couture, India

As India’s middle class swells, the impact of Covid-19 on local luxury sales was notable in 2020, with sector expert Deepali Nandwani speaking to LS:N Global about the ramifications – and emerging silver linings – that the pandemic has brought to trade and consumer mindsets.

In particular, the market is finding pace with technology, enabling artisanal luxury houses and craftspeople to reach nationwide audiences online, while driving convenience for shoppers. ‘There’s been forced innovation, with social media and chat platforms being used for consultations with designers to examine sari fabrics or discuss a luxury watch,’ Nandwani explains. ‘And it's not just about selling through these platforms. Fashion brands like Ikai are now coordinating with their craftspeople on WhatsApp; it's become a place to develop and discuss designs.’

She goes on to add that pandemic has also altered attitudes to city living among affluent Indians. ‘I'm already planning to move out of Mumbai to settle down in Goa because I realise that about 90% of my work has moved online, and I can do without staying in an expensive, polluted city.’

The Space: Beijing’s SKP-S Mall

SKP-S mall, Beijing SKP-S mall, Beijing

While bricks-and-mortar retail has been challenged in 2020, at the very start of the year the luxury sector was shown new frontiers in retailing, with the debut of the SKP-S Mall in China.

Focusing on younger luxury shoppers, the phygital, future-bending interiors of the space were curated by Seoul-based eyewear brand Gentle Monster, which, working with architects Sybarite, seek to challenge the meaning of store design.

Comprising multiple floors, including a dedicated beauty area, SKP-S is anchored by a continually changing Art Experiment Space, which – as China’s luxury retail market recovers – will feature a roster of exhibitions and installations.

Speaking to LS:N Global in April 2020, Sybarite co-founder Simon Mitchell describes how luxury stores can win over shoppers during this inter-Covid period: ‘As humans start to feel more secure in their own environments and in their skins again, they will crave escapism. They will also want to be inspired by the subtle dimensions of what constitutes luxury and craftsmanship: the real touch, feel and textures of goods, rather than the restrictive digital media and e-commerce version of retailing.’

Download the Future Forecast 2021 report

Now that you know what shaped 2020, discover what’s on the horizon. Download our Future Forecast 2021 report comprising 50 new behavioural patterns across 10 key consumer sectors, expert opinion pieces and interviews with global innovators.

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