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Where is the "new" luxury?

Where is luxury today? In the old days, luxury could only be had by the few powered / moneyed people - think Darcey in Jane Austen. So the poor and those lower down the social hierarchy had always wanted some of this luxury - a form of transcendental emancipation I guess.

Not so long ago, buying your first Rolex watch meant you have left the lower echelon in society - because you have the money for the physical good and the power to earn the money. But now, luxury goods and services have become cheap (in real economic terms) and anyone could have a slice of it (e.g. Chavs buying Burberry's, Chinese tourists in Louis Vuitton stores in Hong Kong). If we follow the power-emancipation line of argument, then the new luxury will continue to be power-based and perhaps more transient rather than physical and static. Owning a Vertu phone is not a luxury (because it does not free you from anything!), but having the power over a three-star restaurant is - "I want my table tonight and I can stay as long as I like" (because you have the power to be where you want to be).

So where is the new luxury? Good and services that have high barriers of entry - and only those with power, be it political, societal, intellectual, temporal and of course economical, can have access. May be luxury goods companies will need to think about how to make their products more difficult to get!


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