The Timelessness of the Manolo Blahnik

Isaac Mostovicz writes that the "time" aspect of the Blahnik shoe is the secret to its success...

Manolo Blahnik, the luxury shoe designer, has revealed that he has never quite understood the reason for his brand’s success, but that “timelessness” could be the winning formula.

In the industry for thirty years, Blahnik has become one of the world’s most influential footwear designers with a huge celeb following, somewhat heightened by the endorsement from Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw on the TV series ‘Sex and the City.’

Whilst trends come and go with each season, the Blahnik stays a staple favourite. In a recent interview with Vogue, Blahnik claimed he was “surprised and mystified” by his shoes’ popularity, but said, “perhaps it’s because they don’t have a set time period or ageing look to them.”

This idea about the timelessness of his shoe is interesting.  Luxury is, for Thetas, often affiliated with an investment in a product that transcends seasonal trends. Thetas seek things that inherently represent a lot of time, which is where their love for antiques derives from.  The Blahnik shoe would definitely hit the mark for them.

For Lambdas, the “time” aspect of luxury is associated with the process taken to create the product. Whilst the “timelessness” of Blahnik’s shoe may not be the central appeal for Lambdas, they would like his shoes too, attracted by the time and precision taken over crafting the shoe.

The secret of Manolo Blahnik’s success, it would seem, is that his shoe fits the concept of luxury for both Lambdas and Thetas, whereby the idea of “time” is both product-related and process-related.

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The allure of the past: Why backstory is important in luxury

Isaac Mostovicz writes that an item's historical significance can sometimes be its greatest luxury attraction...

For $700,000 you could own historically significant chimney piece heads. They’re not just any chimney piece heads. According to Luxist, it’s:

An extremely rare, important and well-preserved neo-Gothic terracotta chimney piece commissioned for Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia and King of Hungary, in the late 19th century

For potential buyers, the most important aspect of this is not the craftsmanship, or even how the chimney piece heads look. The most important aspect is its age and royal associations.

A Theta personality will be attracted to this because of the piece’s backstory. This piece serves no purpose other than to be put on display. Thetas gravitate toward luxury items that can be added to their existing personal picture and sense of unity. Thetas would see this item as fulfilling that need.

Thetas look for benefits that improve their social standing. Thetas look for recognition. As I mentioned above, this item would be bought and immediately put on display. A Theta personality would take great pride in showing off this historically significant item off to their friends and others who he perceives as also being part of his desired social circle.

The two guards on the chimney are engraved with a staying that Theta personalities would find great significance in:

Two knights standing on Corinthian columns flank the mantelpiece, which also bears the Emperor’s motto Viribus Unitis, “With united forces.”

Thetas seek unity within themselves, so it is likely that a Theta will attach some personal significance to this phrasing, which would make the item more attractive. Also, because the item is so old, it will likely become some kind of personal adage for the Theta personality.

Ultimately it will be the item’s rarity that will be the most items most attractive feature. Thetas will link their status to the rarity of the product. According to their worldview, if the product is rare, it would imply to anyone viewing it, that the owner, too, is unique.

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A Theta Shift for Luxury?

Isaac Mostovicz writes that timelessness is an important consideration...


I found this recent article about how luxury retailers are weathering the financial crisis to be very interesting. In three different places, it describes how luxury is shifting in a Theta direction. Let me elaborate:

The author describes a shift to craftsmanship from ‘bling’–appreciating craftsmanship is something that Thetas do. On the other hand, Lambdas believe that nature creates luxury, not craftsmen.

Francois-Henri Pinault, the chairman of French group PPR was quoted as saying, “People want a return to genuine values like timelessness.” Thetas think luxury is timeless, while lambdas think that luxury requires a lot of time.

Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, said that luxury consumers are looking for designer goods “that can be passed on to the next generation.” This characteristic of luxury holding its value over time is another Theta mark, whereas Lambdas think that luxury holds its meaning over time.

Is the global economic crisis shifting the luxury market towards Theta? I’m not sure–I think there will always be space in the market for Thetas and Lambdas. It just takes different marketing strategies to reach them.

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