What is Real Luxury?

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My recent extracurricular reading has focused on understanding more about the luxury industry. That includes the history and sociology of how we, as human beings, interact with and develop desires for luxury goods and experiences, and how large corporations like LVMH have fueled and monetized that desire through marketing, particularly to larger middle-class audiences in what’s been referred to as the democratization of luxury.

One of the consistent themes in the modern story of the luxury industry is how many companies outsource production of goods to factories that have — to put it politely — less than ideal working conditions. OK. I’ll say it: sweatshops. All in the name of profit margins. One of the books I’m reading, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, by Dana Thomas, quoted Christian Louboutin (designer of high-end shoes), who said “if you do luxury, you have to treat people in a human way and be elegant. You can’t ask poor people in bad conditions to make beautiful things.”

Louboutin’s onto something which I think captures the essence of real luxury in lieu of the mass market version peddled by major brands.