Hear the word ‘luxury’ and thoughts immediately turn to expensive, high-quality, exclusive, indulgent, out of reach, covetable, perhaps out of touch, a world in a bubble that only a privileged few get to enter. Luxury certainly captures the imagination. Offered as something to aspire to. The embodiment of status symbols signifying having made it. But at what cost? Not referring to the level of a consumer’s wealth but the cost of what goes into producing a luxury object (or any object for that matter) and the impact this has on people and planet.
In the last few years, the luxury industry has been forced to take a hard look at itself from a sustainable production perspective, among other factors. This resulted in a series of shifts- including turning the industry away from mass consumerism and instead returning to its foundational roots of a more considered approach that re-embraces the values that define true luxury.
‘True luxury’ is a standard of luxury that is not defined by hefty price tags, but rather by the ‘money can’t buy’ attributes of time, skills, experiences, and emotional connections. Four sought-after attributes that are embedded into the products created.
True luxury recognises and brings our attention back to the role that the artisan and exceptional craftsmanship and creativity have at the heart of luxury. It does this by respecting the time it takes to craft an object by hand, or by hand-guided machine. The very touch of the human hand infusing an object with heart & soul rendering it animate.
By being aware of true luxury we get to see and appreciate materials through the eyes of the creator, marvelling at the way light shines through a glass vessel casting patterns on the wall behind it or the way a piece of furniture has been carefully joined together. Materials that are continually pushed and expanded beyond their common capabilities, yet thoughtfully and sustainably sourced with health, well-being, and longevity in mind.
Not a principle that remains in the past true luxury is forward-thinking, using the present to create responses to address tomorrow’s challenges. True luxury is about embracing the concept of slow design, which in turn results in fewer products, mindfully crafted to last a lifetime, or at the very least last much, much longer than the current behaviour of objects being thoughtlessly discarded after a couple of uses.
True luxury does not shy away from transparency. It is heart-centred offering up an invitation to personally connect with, and therefore treasure an object on a deeper, emotional level. It is an invitation to experience and appreciate the finer details of what goes into crafting an object. To uncover the stories of the maker that are woven, moulded, carved into it. And to discover the heritage that forms the foundation upon, which an object has emerged.
The discerning customer is becoming more conscious about what they buy and the impact it has on their life and world. True luxury is the response to meeting their exacting needs in a sophisticated and holistic way.
– Tapiwa Matsinde