“Why do we immediately associate luxury with wealth? One does not need to own to be able to enjoy,” photographer Thomas Demand said at a recent BMW-sponsored Design Talk that included a panel discussion on the concept of “Art and Design: Is Modesty the new Luxury?” Luxury, Demand continued, “ is a state of mind.” But while consumption may not be essential to channeling luxury, according to a recent piece in The Age, the high fashion industry isn’t suffering as a result of the global recession as much as one might presume. In fact, recent studies have shown that some brands are holding up surprisingly well. “Luxury brands have weathered the financial storm better than their mid-market counterparts,” says The Age. And “it has a lot to do with branding positioning.”
In other words, recession thinking seems to be: Why buy five less expensive bags when you can buy one high-end purse? So while Coach is suffering, sales at Chanel are up from last year. Also holding up well: Louis Vuitton and Hermès. On the other end of the spectrum is Armani, a fashion house whose net worth has dropped significantly, which Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, blames on the brand spreading itself “too thin” thanks to offshoots like Armani Casa, Armani Hotels, and AX Armani Exchange. But, don’t feel too bad for Giorgio; the household name is still worth a hefty $2.8 billion.