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Exclusivity and the rise of “no-logo” luxury

Isaac Mostovicz writes that that luxury products without overt branding are the new mark of exclusivity...

I have written recently about the idea of luxury as exclusivity – not just an expensive product or experience, but also one that is unique and not obtainable by all.

This article by Jim Shi in the Financial Times makes a similar point, arguing that:

“Luxury products without overt branding are the new mark of exclusivity… brands as diverse as Victoria Beckham and Celine are whispering their exclusivity amid a growing consensus that “anonymity” is the key to being recognized.”

Luxury handbags by Victoria Beckham

This is a trend that high-end stores are noticing. The Barneys New York store’s executive vice-president Daniella Vitale said of its products:

“[It’s about] expression through details, exquisite materials and things that are not so identifiable.”

This emphasis on timelessness, elegance, quality and “private luxury” has seen luxury brands such as Hermès – who posted a 50 percent increase in profits earlier this year – thrive despite the economic downturn, or perhaps because of it.  As Ed Burstell, the managing director of luxury store Liberty of London, says”:

“If budgets are tighter, there is much greater value put on bags that will stand the test of time.”

These purchases are discreetly luxurious rather than ostentatious, fitting well with the perceived age of austerity in the US and Europe as governments face difficult financial decisions. These items still tap into a desire for admiration and style, but from “informed insiders” rather than the average person on the street. Add to this the often limited availability of these items, and there is a real exclusivity around the luxury logo-free product.

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