Luxury, a (necessary) cultural anchor
One of the (many) paradoxes of luxury ? To remain timeless while constantly reinventing itself (or even better, being reinvented by artists and influencers of its times) to be culturally relevant. In order to do that, a luxury brand will and must stretch itself to beyond its category, will develop unexpected (and disruptive) partnerships, may find inspiration from untapped audiences and universes of reference (music, fashion, art, gaming, travels, literature, cinema, but also sometimes politics, nature, etc) or will create a new offer, either limited or permanent, in order to deliver a larger-than-life cultural message.
Crafting and delivering that message takes time and it's a long-term commitment that requires both consistency and creativity. Think your brand as a two-speed engine, with the short term being as important as the long term, as every bit of short term activity needs to fuel that long-term goal. But, from time to time, there will be that defining and founding moment that will "make history" and will take your brand to the next level, the level of a "cultural anchor".
One perfect example of a cultural anchor? Chanel. Perfectly documented via their "Inside Chanel" series.
Credit : CHANEL - N°5, 100 years of celebrity — Inside CHANEL
By opening libraries, curating exhibitions, creating "objets", luxury brands aim at becoming that large-than-life type of brand, and offering to their customers (and to aspiring customers) something that goes way beyond the transaction itself.
I have selected a few recent examples to illustrate that. You will see that some are about brands expanding to hospitality or culture via unique brand-owned concepts. Some are about brands developing partnerships to "get in culture". In all cases, it's about growing your influence beyond your direct category and defining your cultural mission as a brand.
1. The Louis Vuitton ephemeral library in Paris, France
The famous French brand publishes its own city guides and has been doing so for over 20 years. This new step establishes LV as one of the most important cultural anchors of today's times. In its Saint-Germain-Des-Pres boutique of course, an arrondissement that rhymes with literature.
Credit : Louis Vuitton
2. Louis Vuitton's Objets Nomades in Hong-Kon
March 25 - April 8, Hong-Kong
Located at the Pedder Building, a renowned and historical landmark in the heart of Central Hong Kong, the event takes place in a series of rooms created by the architecture firm NCDA as a reinterpretation of the historical mansions found throughout the city. Featuring a preview of Zanellato/Bortotto’s Lantern ahead of its international reveal later in the year, the showcase also presents new Objets Nomades such as a newly revisited Anemona table by Atelier Biagetti and reinterpretations of existing, iconic pieces in unexpected, new tones.
Credit : Louis Vuitton
3. Dom Perignon x Lady Gaga Limited Edition
On that same note, we can't ignore the very obvious ones we all know (Dior x Jordan, LV x Supreme, both inspired by streetwear and the GenZ's growing influence on every generation of luxury consumers).
4. Faberge x Game of Thrones
- One, unique egg created
- Designed with GOT's costume designer : "for her (Michele Clapton) who won an Emmy for her costume design for GOT in 2012, it was her first time working in high jewelry. She marveled at the range of beautiful colors available in gemstones and enamel, and at the engineering deployed inside the eggs, though Fabergé has vast experience, having built tiny clocks, train sets and moving animals into these jeweled objects." - source : cpp-luxury.com
- As the epitome of the HBO series' 10-year anniversary festivities
As they acknowledge that cultural element (by getting genuinely interested in their consumers' identity, lifestyles and values, but also by listening and watching what happens in their real life, in their world and what matters to them) and as they embrace it, luxury brands will get inspired from that cultural movement, will become an active agent of change... and will, paradoxically, remain timeless.
Now, the question is : what is your brand's cultural mission & value?
Sources & Additional reading