It’s common knowledge that millennials are the new consumer for luxury fashion. But with our lifestyles, tastes and attitudes so different from our parents and generations before us, what does this really mean for an industry built on heritage and traditions? We have already seen major changes where luxury has been redefined, take for example, logos that are no longer simple status symbols to display wealth. Their return is a reference to another era of design or street art or the dialogue about ownership and and identity. My last post on What Is Luxury Fashion Now? addressed how brands are communicating to millennials in a different way but the first post of this series, The Future of Luxury Fashion: Society looks at what has taken place and will continue to shape the fashion industry, influenced by socio-political factors and the millennial consumer.
Luxe streetwear is here to stay
We all know Vetements and Off White as well as we do Chanel and with Virgil Abloh taking the reigns of Louis Vuitton’s menswear and Ricardo Tisci, known for bringing ‘casual’ to Givenchy, at the helm of Burberry, streetwear as high end fashion is not simply a fad. However, there is something larger at play here than just a penchant for luxe sportswear and ‘ugly’ sneakers. Expensive streetwear brands like Supreme have long been on the rise, even collaborating with Louis Vuitton, a brand that they had previously appropriated for its monogram years ago. But I believe that the seemingly loud, if not sudden boom where streetwear was seen on the runways of the oldest maisons, stems from a sense of minimalism.
The minimalist aesthetic, with its clean sleek functionality and ode to design and architecture, is aspirational as it is beautiful. Sure fashion brands have their own ID to protect and maintain but look to other luxury products like beauty or even food, and you’ll see a pandering towards a fresh, bare look. Minimalism in appearance has slowly influenced consumer’s minimalism in choice. Excess in any form is no longer desirable, instead it’s ostentatious and not aligned with the millennial mindset at all. So this is where the allure of expensive, well-made streetwear comes in: it’s approachable, a worthwhile investment when considering cost per wear and symbolic of the climate in which we live and its innovative designers.
For an industry that is based on seasons and trends, the world of luxury fashion is a little late in capitalising on the hype surrounding social issues of our time. If you really think about it, only a handful of designers have really picked up on the zeitgeist that’s permeating our news and dinner conversations – the best well known examples being politics or feminism. However, one of the biggest changes come from retailers and designers alike, where Selfridges and Gucci to name a few, have pledged against the use and sale of fur. If we step back to take a look at the larger context, FMCGs are standing up and paying more attention to new millennial-fuelled trends like flexitarian diets. Could this bold move from the fashion world be part of that wider play to capture the love and loyalty of conscious millennials?
And on a more granular level but related to a past post on hyper-consumerism, Vetements recently displayed an installation at Harrod’s. The presentation was a visual commentary on the problem of overproduction in fashion. Seems ironic but this is a way that established, high end brands can be part of the conversation and remain relevant among millennials without compromising their history or image. And this is critical because it’s an industry expected to churn out new designs and new ways of story telling. So by now, if you haven’t clocked on, then you’re irrelevant. There’s not much that’s worse than that when it comes to millennials.
This was the first part of The Future of Luxury Fashion: Society, as always I’d love to hear your thoughts so drop me a DM via Instagram or email me!