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Luxury experiences aren't just for luxury brands

by Molly Flatt on 27 November 2009

What’s the definition of luxury? Well, according to Times style columnist Edwina Ings-Chambers, for Christmas 2009 it’s all about providing something bespoke. Bag designer Anya Hindmarch thinks that “you can definitely say that something is luxury when it’s completely personalised” and Ings-Chambers cites a number of high-end brands which are still raking in big-spending and aspirational consumers by offering a truly tailored experience, such as new London gift service Bokks:

“Packages are tailor-made and you can enlist one of its “very personal assistants” to come up with ideas: for instance, a photography fan was given a box containing a 1950s camera and limited-edition photographic books and prints. Bokks boxes start at £250, including the Bokks-Hop delivery boy or girl in clothes designed by Neil Barrett.”

Obviously, very few brands – or people – can afford this sort of outlay. But the principle of a luxury experience – one where attention is paid to making every detail conversational and personal – should apply to every offering, even if it’s a shampoo or a mobile tariff. It doesn’t take a lot of money to be thoughtful. What small touches can you add that makes someone feel they’re valued and that the product or service has been created with an absolute awareness of their needs and preferences? How could that be reflected in the method of delivery, in the packaging, in a tiny, easily integrated, personalised facet of the product?

If the luxury experience is persuading the super-rich to shell out £10,000 for a pair of  bespoke feathered heels in a recession, then surely it can persuade the regular Joe to spend £40 on your jacket. Why not try?

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  • Dagmar

    It doesn’t take a lot to be thoughtful, but the thoughtful are poor, their time is taxed in effect. Thoughtful mindedness, mindfulness, is a low-geared, lo-fi way of being, as the high-minded William Morris and John Ruskin so painstakingly noted.

    Prince Charles has spoken about it, sort of roundabout, kind of thing, this time at the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards, broadcast today.

    He talks of the “virtuous circle” (opposite of a vicious circle) whereby people cultivate foodstuffs sparingly and carefully and are rewarded by those monied enough pay for the detail. This is the philosophy of his Duchy Original brand, once struggling, now saved for the moment by Waitrose.

    Duchy originals and Poundbury, his magical, neo-retro hand-built village, make you crave for the thoughtful simplicity of mass-market life, like Coca-Cola, which makes rich and poor the same as Andy Warhol said, or like IKEA items made in cool Swedish stainless steel.

    But the IKEA items are made in poor countries, the minimum wage is globally set and the sparely waged mass-producing masses are poor like the careful crafters.

    Prince Charles talks of the wisdom of nature, which is ghastly cruel as a matter of fact, and makes one crave that the world be one big, brightly lit, well run, primary-coloured McDonald’s.

    Still, mass-market, overall, gives people time to be themselves, which may not involve consuming at all.

    Interestingly, urban blacks in white society are the most modern of people, fundamentally our biggest influence, marked out by their colour, each alone in the need to rise unencumbered above the crumbling edifice of sentimentality.

  • friendyanil

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