Understanding Luxury Mindset - Examining the complexities of the centuries-old approach adapted to living in the modern age

Understanding Luxury Mindset - Examining the complexities of the centuries-old approach adapted to living in the modern age

In a famous quote attributed to the late L'Wren Scott, a model, fashion designer and stylist, she said, "Luxury is a state of mind". There is truth to this statement because to engage with true luxury requires a specific state of mind and approach to living.

What is a luxury mindset? Why do you need it?

Let's begin with a better understanding of complexities of luxury and a 'luxury mindset'. Search online and you'll find endless information on the business side of luxury - data, statistics and such, but there is far less exploring the mindset. Mindset is very important because without a proper luxury mindset, you'll get little to nothing out of a luxury experience or having exposure to anything in the luxury landscape. Without a proper mindset, exposure to anything referring to itself as luxury at all, may leave you feeling confused, empty, that it's unimportant and makes no sense. Contributing to this problem, is the fact that there is far too much misinformation about the subject in circulation. All of this incorrect thinking is based on a consumerist mentality and an external first approach, one with too narrow a focus, that tries to distill the concept of luxury, which is impossible due to its complexities, and in conjunction with the incorrect idea that the 'definition' of luxury is changing.

The Definition of Luxury is Not Changing, Only People's Perceptions

The definition of luxury itself is not changing - the definition of luxury is firmly rooted in a centuries old culture, codes, values and a system that is fixed. What is changing however, is peoples perception of what luxury means to them and how they relate to it. Perception is a key factor. This is a result of decades of consumerist narrative, voices from those who write about luxury that are generalists and bring to it a middle class perspective, one that is in opposition to the principles of luxury and thereby adds a one-dimensional view, including skewed ideas about personalization and experience, all fueled by a lack of education on this complex subject contributing to the confusion and dilution of the word itself further decontextualising it.

The understanding that "Luxury is made by people and inspired by nature" deeply resonates with me. Fine jewellery is the perfect example where, with exceptional stones provided by nature, the selection of an expert eye combined with the tremendous craftsmanship of artists has the power to touch the most personal emotions. When you touch people's hearts, we are no longer talking about value, this is luxury.
~Cedric Wasilewski - Chopard France S.A.S. Retail Director France -Belgium -Spain www.chopard.com


Luxury Democratisation Consequences on Mindset

A brief look back at the disconnect that stemmed from the break in for whom luxury was intended - Prior to the 1980s push to attract the newly rich into becoming luxury consumers in a now consumption minded world, it was Aristocracy and Royalty who grew up with luxury because it was created for them.

In their world, they had a luxury mindset. It was their way of life, their way of thinking. A deeply cultivated, educated immersive manner of thinking and looking at the world. They had a passion for the sublime led by their levels of taste, education on culture, design, materials, craftsmanship. Things built for longevity, legacy, celebration of (hu)mans accomplishments into that which was man made, ripe with beauty, inspired and elevated thinking and appreciation for the finest, best made and the exquisite and knowing how to enjoy it all. The world behind the external view of luxury was from a time before all our needs have been met. And a time when advertising had evolved into being less about information and more about persuasion, before we were all manipulated into thinking that consuming is our principal role for being in this world. (Consuming, isn’t our sole role on this earth). And here we are today with social media giving everyone a megaphone, talking about luxury loudly but not really understanding it at all.

Disconnect and Loss of Context

Decades of luxury democratization have had consequences. Democratisation created a disconnect and decontextualisation. It all started during the time when luxury houses were becoming acquired by conglomerates.  The strategy for growth was to attract new customers with entry level products. This successful strategy increased sales and created new customers but it also created a problem because entry level approach skipped the step of education and over time, without context, develops problems of perception and understanding of the culture of luxury and its complexities. In hindsight, a combined strategy of education and entry level would have given luxury much needed context.

Regaining Context

Without this context, important knowledge is lost. Building a foundation of enriched sophistication and understanding of how to appreciate, identify true luxury and be a connoisseur - these new buyers didn’t know what they were getting themselves into and the power of luxury to seduce. Cultivating a better understanding could have better kept luxury in alignment with meaning and connection to luxury's humanity. So where does this leave luxury perception and mindset? All is not lost. It is time for nurture and nature. Simply put, the missing key to luxury mindset and understanding it is education about true luxury and how to appreciate it.

The statement "to even begin to understand Luxury is an inner journey" touches me so much. It brought back many of my memories over the last 16 years - a journey I never dreamed of but clearly had shaped my life and mindset. It gives me the inspiration and is also a reflection of my journey with luxury - One's perception of luxury mirrors one's inner aesthetic, and vice versa. An inner-rich mindset elevates beyond the physical forms of luxury to appreciate the experiential and even spiritual joys of luxury.
~Kelly Meng-Parnwell, Programme Director & Lecturer, MA in Luxury Brand Management, Goldsmiths University London https://gold.ac.uk

How to Get a Luxury Mindset

It’s time for nurture and nature in luxury education and creating a “luxury mindset reset” suited for modern living. One that honours true luxury, the DNA, culture, and its important pillars by reconnecting us to our humanity and the pursuit of excellence. Engaging with luxury in this holistic manner can transform it into something more of a spiritual experience. Here are our tips to guide that journey:

1. Engage your Senses and Begin to Shift your Perceptions about Luxury 

To even begin to understand Luxury know that it is an inner journey. It starts from the 5 senses, and evoking positive emotions and understanding yourself, to be present in the presence of true luxury, reconnects with the essence of who you are, your sensitivity, your humanity and allow yourself to be touched and in awe of great expressions of superfluous displays of exceptional talents with materials and their manifestations beyond our basic needs.

2. Understand Key Points about Luxury and Luxury Mindset

Let’s take a look at some important points about luxury and a luxury mindset.

  1. To understand and appreciate luxury all begins in the mind.
  2. Without 'man' or humanity, there is no luxury. Luxury is made by humans and inspired by nature. Something that is luxury is not something that is a basic life necessity.
  3. Passion, vision, creative expression, going beyond the ordinary, beyond life’s basic necessities and human rights for living, this is where the life of something being luxury begins.
  4. What begins to make something a luxury starts with it not being a life necessity or even something practical but whatever it is is made to such high standards exceedingly beyond the ordinary.
    1. Something that exudes great beauty and displays incredible design achievement and excellence even if it’s not perfect bit it’s masterfully crafted - it’s not just because it has a specific logo on it. There is a lot of logo riddled product that is not truly luxury. Much of it is premium masquerading as luxury, but luxury from a consumerist perspective rather than being definitively, luxury.
  5. While luxurious items can be personalised not all things personal are luxury.
  6. The world of luxury is a complex culture and ecosystem, a business model, a set of codes, pillars, principles and standards that cannot be distilled or simplified.
  7. Luxury understanding and expression comes from within not because an item displays a logo or tells you it’s luxury. To truly experience luxury begins from within the mind and emotions it is not started solely from something external.
  8. Just because you are having or are in the presence of something considered a luxury does not mean you’re actually having a luxury experience. To get the luxury feeling, take the experience inward, connect it to your heart and emotions to engage in the moment.
  9. To really begin to see luxury in a new light, you must disconnect its association from the consumerist mentality.
  10. The value of luxury starts with the minds perception, education and identification that comes from identifying the facts not merely the idea of 'social proof' or 'influencer' opinion.
  11. To be able to understand true luxury comes with being able to identify and distinguish luxury’s markers. These come from a set of age old codes and cues that is not influenced by consumerist ideology or marketing agendas. To learn this takes education from the right sources. Recommended reading on this subject to aid in the understanding luxury's markers, is the book Meta-luxury Luxury Brands and the Culture of Excellence

Mademoiselle Gabrielle Chanel once said: “Some people think that luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. Luxury is the opposite of vulgarity” In my opinion this is probably the best definition of luxury that I have ever read. Luxury is not for everyone. One needs the appropriate upbringing, education and culture to have the right mindset and sensitivity to appreciate beauty, understand luxury and live the experience. Luxury is indeed a state of mind and a way of life.

~ Antonio Paraiso, Luxury. Marketing. Innovation. Consulting & Talks. TEDx Speaker http://www.antonioparaiso.com/

3. Be aware of the Veil on Luxury Marketing and Advertising Rhetoric

When you are aware and can lift the veil of marketing rhetoric, advertising, persuasion, purchase pressure, superficiality, noise from influencers, the biased, “buy me because I’m persuading you to” trance the world had been cast under, you can break free and grasp your real essence, your own thinking and start to see things more clearly. Stop being trapped in manipulative thinking and buying patterns first by being aware and awaken back into yourself and into refreshed ways of thinking and feeling about luxury that connect more deeply - think about how you can reconnecting luxury with your humanity to enrich your human experience.

4. Embrace a New Perception of Luxury to Think, 'Be' and Feel, Luxurious

The time to start seeing and feeling luxury differently is now, because there is so much to be gained by connecting with your emotions and going inward for clarity and putting luxury back into context for greater meaning. Let’s inspire this understanding of luxury one that is liberating, stimulates thought and a return to self in order to redefine how you see and feel, luxury.

Remember ...

Luxury is not brands

    • Luxury is a culture
    • Luxury is a business model
    • But the business model alone, nor price or a luxury strategy, makes something automatically ‘luxury’
    • Luxury as a concept is complex, the most complex concept there is because it encompasses tangibles and intangibles.
    • To understand luxury requires a certain mindset
    • To be able to dialogue with the wealthy and in the world of the wealthy, requires a mindset and set of social skills and acumen.
    • Break free from the chains of commerce and embrace luxury's connection to the pursuit of excellence
    • Open your mind, heart and eyes to a rarified world
    • Disconnect the idea of luxury from money
    • Reconnect how you perceive luxury linking it to humanity

Additional food for thought

Remember, while luxury now seems to be everywhere, luxury is not for everyone. None of this may resonate for you, and that's OK.

But if it does, seize the moment to reconnect luxury to your senses and sense of self. Shift into a beautiful way of thinking that honours you, the people who make true luxury possible and to celebrate the pursuit of excellence not only in things but in ourselves, in our humanity and in the journey of the human experience in this beautiful world we live in.

To engage yourself in a world of discovery and journey into a specialised area offers the opportunity to become someone that appreciates incredible quality, quality of life and crafts you into an aficionado. There is so much in the world to eat, love and savor! Begin anew and embark on what could become a life-long love affair rich with meaning and an elevated, transcendent experience that adds beauty and new depth to life and living.


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Originally published by EAT LOVE SAVOR Luxury, January 22, 2022. Written by Angela Tunner

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