Unfolding the Future


The enduring allure of a thing of beauty

With the pandemic crashing economies and reducing incomes across the word, the luxury industry
might find itself in a tight spot. But thankfully, some things in life never change.

Prior to pandemic, the luxury sector was valued at a global rate of US$1.47 trillion in 2019.

For decades, it was a market that captured not only the extremely wealthy but also the young, middle class living their best Instagram lives.

The luxury economy kept its loyalty among the old and new monied, particularly Chinese wealth. It was able to thrive, tapping into the vein of wants, not needs.

Six months into 2020, and the picture could not be more different. As businesses grind to a halt, air travel suffered. Much like any other nonessential sector, the luxury market took a hit.
Consultancy company Bain is predicting that global sales of luxury products (handbags, clothes and cosmetics) will decline by as much as 35 per cent.

Closer to home, as shops were shut for months, sales have taken a hit too – with many struggling to find ways to reach out to their regular clientele online. Some, like Dior, have successfully implemented virtual consultations, live chats and product launches.

So the question for the market, as with every industry facing major tailwinds is, will that Chanel clutch ever go out of style?

The short answer is, no. For there is always room for a thing of beauty.
Many luxury brands are established entities, passed down through generations of trained artisan hands. Louis Vuitton for instance, was established in 1854 and started life crafting lightweight luggage. Today, it produces a range of items – dumbells and earphones are on sale if you fancy.

LV survived two World Wars, the Great Depression and several downward economic crises. It endured as a luxury house and global brand because when things straighten themselves out, as they do in all crises, loyal customers will always return with wallets and willing hearts.

The same is likely to be true of a post-pandemic luxury sector. Perhaps even more so because people would have missed the experience of browsing and buying. While some brands have slashed prices, top tier names do guard their pricing carefully – because they understand that owning such an item is not about its monetary value.

It is about what it means to the buyer – in that bag or shoe or piece of luggage lies desire, love, beauty and art. No matter how the seasons change, those will never go out of style.

Reference: Channel News Asia / Bain & Company / Louis Vuitton