Luxury or Fashion? Say What You Mean And Mean What You Say!
Sep 20 2012
Increasingly, one of my pet peeves is language. For instance, I have a longstanding issue with the intentional misuse of terms by marketeers for the purposes of sweet talking consumers into parting with their cash. The oxymoron "affordable luxury" comes to mind as does "Size 0". Then there are terms that bear only a passing or coincidental association with one another and yet get used interchangeably by people who should know better, less the result of intention than of sheer sloppiness.
Forbes recently published a brief article entitled "Does the Internet Spell the End of Luxury, or the Birth of New Luxury?" Catchy title. As it turns out, the corresponding article has little or nothing to do with the impact of the internet on the luxury industry but rather chronicles the ways in which the Internet and social media are revolutionising the fashion industry. Although fashion at its very best can properly be considered a luxury good (haute couture and a handful of fashion and accessories brands would probably qualify), the term "fashion" is not and never has been a synonym for "luxury". Yet, time and again, I read magazine articles and blog posts that confuse the two terms.
The confusion is to some extent understandable. It doesn't help for instance that luxury brands themselves routinely market products that are not luxury at all (lipstick, fragrance, sunglasses, etc) or that traditional luxury brands have, for better or for worst, entered the lucrative fashion fray. Also, luxury department stores like Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman sell both luxury fashion brands and plenty of other fashion brands that are clearly not luxury (just because you buy an item of clothing or an accessory at Bergdorf's doesn't necessarily make it a luxury item even though the experience of shopping at Bergdorf's may very well be quite luxurious). So, I fully concede that the distinction is not always clear, especially to consumers.
Having said all of this, one would think that a professional journalist writing for a reputable business publication such as Forbes would know the difference or at least, know to research the term. The fact that the author cites Topshop Unique to illustrate an article ostensibly about luxury dispelled any illusions I may have had in this respect. If consumers cannot rely on a publication such as Forbes to make the necessary distinctions between "fashion" and "luxury", who can they rely on?
The Luxe Chronicles