Author: Maryanne Njeri Maina | An MBA student in Luxury Brand Management at HEC School of Management in Paris – Twitter: @njerimaina. E: email@example.com
Luxury is a culture, which means you have to understand it to be able to practice it with flair and spontaneity- Kapferer & Bastien
The luxury universe expresses taste, creative identity, portrays the intrinsic passion of a creator, and social distinction. Luxury has quality, skill, mastery, craftsmanship and the luxury attitude. Through the luxury product we became a part of the story it tells. It preserves a heritage while portraying a culture.
In this universe, there has been an increasing demand for understated luxury leather products. More and more consumers are moving from loud and obvious logos to minimal or no logos well expressed by the House of Cartier. These are signs of sophistication and culture without conformity to showing ones status or wealth in society. Quiet luxury products command higher demand from consumers, high costs; have limited supply and undeniable quality such as the House of Hermès.
One of the sectors that applied minimalism to its products is the luxury leather goods industry. Beautifully crafted luxury leather goods for the season have reduced the size of their logos as evidenced by the exotic bags collections for Spring 2014. As more individuals increase their spending there is a desire to buy items that appear to be less showy. This has led several luxury brands to cater to these consumers by reducing the logo to guarantee silent luxe. Buyers of these products are able to recognize the bags by their designs, shapes and materials. Bottega Veneta is well recognizable by the materials used to produce its products.
Minimalism provides prominence to the beauty of the object, maintains its allure, uniqueness as desired by the consumer. This is the essence of bespoke luxury.
The universe of luxury leather handbags has its hierarchy of quality and craftsmanship suited for each luxury house. This hierarchy has special order bags or made to order and mass manufactured bags. Buying a bag from Hermès is comparable to buying a Rolls-Royce or haute couture from the House of Chanel. You order for your bag, with the skin you want for it; ostrich, alligator, crocodile or cowhide and the accessories you would like, which range from feathers, to diamonds to gold. The artisans study the skins and cut them out as required for the handbags.
The next step is to wait for several months for the bag to be produced. On completion, inside the bag you will find the name of the artisan, the atelier (workshop) and the year of production. This enables you to locate the artists from whom you would want to order another bag or for quality control management. Waiting lists at Hermès ensure it remains high in demand, exclusive and luxury. Hermès has managed to constantly increase in prices while making profits. Some of the Hermès Birkin bags made from crocodile can retail at $60, 000. An Hermès bag defines old money, nobility, wealth without being ostentatious.
Louis Vuitton has also launched a truly luxurious line of exotic skin handbags for the ultra-high net worth clients as more consumers (men and women) demand for understated luxury. The seasons bags like in most luxury houses are drawstring bucket bags made from exotic skins in various colours such as the Louis Vuitton NN 14 Fatale PM bag costs $20, 600. The NN 14 collection is crafted with luxurious crocodile, tassels drawings for a bucket bag. The more the minimalism, the higher the cost for the bag. Gucci’s Soft Stirrup Crocodile shoulder bag retails at $32, 500 while the Bottega Veneta Crocodile Accordion bag retails at $15, 750.
Luxury bags are often perceived to be investment collections buy some of the buyers, who later auction them or preserve from them for personal use for years.