bronze Italian artisan jewellery

Mixing Luxury and Commodity is Risky Business!

Seth Godin, marketing guru, academic and a prolific writer knows something about branding.  One of his wee blogs got our attention.  He suggests that “ubiquitous distribution is overrated; exclusivity is underrated; scarcity creates value”.  A bit of a mouthful, but simply put mixing luxury and commodity is rather risky. 

Seth Godin in 2009, author, marketing guru. Source Wikimedia Public Domain

Seth Godin in 2009, author, marketing guru. Source Wikimedia Public Domain

Many industries flood markets believing they better serve customers. Take book publishers, or say analgesic makers, either one of their output is readily available, in bookstores, chemist shops, supermarkets.    Wide distribution for these commodity companies is beneficial and even essential to stay in business.

However, would a company like Hermes be as coveted or as profitable if it were available, say in Target?  Farfetched? Not so much.  Think about Missoni, the house that made the zigzag pattern very chic, and their collaboration with Target.  Their short-term dalliance boosted profits beyond expectations!

Classic Missoni Zigzag Photo Credit Fashion & Textile Museum Retrospective May 2016

Classic Missoni Zigzag Photo Credit Fashion & Textile Museum Retrospective May 2016

“Democratisation” of all things moda is a worthy endeavour. We wonder though if this playful flirtation in the mainstream compromises brand equity. Would you remain a loyal Missoni fan knowing their proprietary zigzag is available ad nauseam?

Fashion insiders, analysts, and pundits say that exclusivity is a byword for luxury.  In this hallowed camp, without hesitation, we put Hermes, the purveyor of luxury goods whose unwavering commitment to their artisanal roots has made them the most admired and sought-after brand in the world. They remain steadfastly European in their production, supporting the workshops in France and Italy.

The art of the craft. Photo credit Angelina Litvin, Unsplash

The art of the craft. Photo credit Angelina Litvin, Unsplash

Competitors, meanwhile, to meet an insatiable appetite for status symbols, particularly from Asia, have relocated some of their manufacturing far from home.

The old adage, “make hay while the sun shines,” speaks to profiting from increased demand; however, it has put a growing number of discerning folks like you on alert.  Behaviour has changed, consumers have begun to probe more, doing more of their own due diligence, peering at labels. I do!  We do!  Value for money is hardly a new concept, but perhaps what is surprising is that it is becoming more commonplace at the very high end of the market.

Doing due diligence, probing more, peering at labels. Photo Credit Unsplash

Doing due diligence, probing more, peering at labels. Photo Credit Unsplash

“Luxury” is such a subjective word. It means different things to different people.  Some denote Prada as a luxury brand, others equate Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Fendi to luxury. Irrespective of where you are on the luxury scale, these mega-brands that flock together have positioned themselves “monopolising streets in major cities; Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, Madison Avenue in New York, via Monte Napoleone in Milan, and so on and so forth.  The allure of this urban formula remains hard to resist!

Via dei Condotti, Rome. Google Images

Via dei Condotti, Rome. Google Images

And then there is “haute couture,” a French phrase that literally means “high sewing.” It is unflinchingly and rigorously the product of passion, exquisite design, and exceptional craftsmanship.

Afforded by less than one percent of folks in the world, it is an art form that has the power to stir emotions evoking dreams and aspirations.  For a nanosecond it frees us from the shackles of the mundane and “utilitarian” transporting us into our own wonderful fantasy.  Think about the running success of “Savage Beauty,” the retrospective on the late Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  It broke all attendance records!

"Savage Beauty" a retrospective on Alexander McQueen at the MET in New York. Show closed on August 7th, 2011

“Savage Beauty”, a retrospective on Alexander McQueen at the MET in New York. Show closed on August 7th, 2011. Photo credit betterafter50.com

So back to Seth’s point that “ubiquitous distribution is overrated.” Perhaps it is time to pause a moment and ponder. Certainly, it is exciting to know that more people in the world can afford high priced items; on the flip side, does a not-as-rare luxury item justify the high price?

Will discriminating consumers continue to invest in brands that they begin to perceive as no longer so exclusive?  Or will the desire for an alternative to the fast-paced fashion machine get stronger? Will the logo-free, lovingly crafted accessory that combines contemporary, timeless elegance become the holy grail of style, and fashion?

Hand-painted silk scarf by Milan-based artisan Claudia F Photo Credit Loredana Marini

Hand-painted silk scarf by Milan-based artisan Claudia F Photo Credit Loredana Marini

No one can predict the future, but what we can state is that the appeal for high-quality, non-branded finery made by artisans is growing internationally and, for this renewed interest in one-of-a-kind, The Italian Collection https://www.theitaliancollection.com is most grateful. For, it is our mission to be the clarion call for craftsmanship, as well, the voice of the Italian lifestyle.

Do visit us soon!

Co-founders Myriam and Cristina

 

 

 

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