Luxury has been around since the dawn of time. From Stone Age women adorning themselves with mollusc shells to signify their status in the tribe, to modern-day consumers showing off their purchasing power by buying luxury products, it's clear that luxury has always been a part of human life. In the past, only the wealthy could afford luxury brands, but now they are accessible to most people. What makes a brand truly luxurious? Quality materials and craftsmanship that are difficult to replicate are the hallmarks of true luxury.
Louis Vuitton boasts that each of its suitcases and bags goes through more than 1000 stages before reaching its customer, while Ermenegildo Zegna runs its own factories to weave the fabrics used in its suits. Luxury brands often began as small workshops staffed by highly skilled workers, so artisanal craftsmanship is a key part of their identity. Gucci celebrated this in its 90th anniversary advertising campaign, which featured black and white photographs of its 1950s workshops, highlighting the expertise passed down from generation to generation. The 2000s saw luxury brands reach new audiences by collaborating with major retailers to produce limited edition items that customers would scramble to get their hands on.
This combination of scarcity and mass appeal drives desire while protecting the brand from overexposure and making the product, service or experience seem more valuable. Tiffany & Co's print advertisement for its luxury brand used the slogan “Celebrating the World's Best Love Stories Since 1837” and featured models recreating Audrey Hepburn's iconic Breakfast at Tiffany's scene. Luxury is hard to define; it's expensive but not too expensive, high-quality and durable yet futuristic, rare yet difficult to access. Luxury is a belief based on elucidation.
Think about how celebrities on Oscars night wear original Valentino dresses from 60 years ago as a symbol of luxurious living. For this reason, a brand that wants to be successful as a luxury brand must maintain a high level of exclusivity and scarcity, as well as other premium features.