Digital Demands on Selling Luxury

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If designers expect their high-end fashion to make it in the age of technology, they might have to change their expectations of exclusivity, according to The Wall Street Journal. The industry might have trouble for reasons that go beyond simple economy. Designers’ attitudes about their products’ availability could be cramping their ability to successfully market in the digital age.

The techniques for selling luxury, a former Louis Vuitton employee and Harvard teacher told WSJ, are tied to tradition and old ways of thinking, which can hamper development. Today’s selling is instantaneous, widely accessible, and continually evolving as more and more business takes to the world wide web. That’s good news for all companies that can produce quickly and saturate the market with their products. But luxury is often built on an idea of exclusion, the sense of value because of rarity, being difficult to obtain.

Designers of luxury fashion, says WSJ, often take a longer time to produce their works, partly as a function of artistry. Designers have often enjoyed a cinematic style release-date-to-availability gap heretofore, showing their collections and then allowing some time before the clothing became available to the public. But now, with the instant availability that so many other brands have through digital media, luxury fashion is at a disadvantage.

Some designers have responded by adjusting their selling technique. Instead of allowing a gap between the runway and sales, some designers, like Tommy Hilfiger, have made their collections instantly available. That means directly from the fashion show; customers could make a purchase digitally while in the audience, or go straight to a store afterward for some products.

Customers also come from a wider, less exclusive base now. The digital world has opened high fashion shows to anyone who has internet access, WSJ observes. An audience used to shopping online demands higher availability–more access and faster. It’s counter to the slow production of exclusive items that luxury is traditionally associated with, but it’s good for business. If the industry can evolve to adopt new practices, it might have to shed the sense of singularity, but it can gain a wider platform and grow with the 21st century.

Featured image via Flickr/

I'm a lover of words in all forms, sweatshirts in all conditions, and God in all circumstances. I particularly enjoy working collaboratively on the written word and wearing microfiber robes (preferably at the same time). Most of the time I don't get enough sleep, but I make a valiant effort.

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