Luxury fashion tends to present itself in very European terms. This isn’t surprising given the history of the major luxury brands, and Europe certainly has an image that is better suited for luxury too.
Gorgeous old architecture, long history of royal pageantry, the birthplace of many artisan traditions. But at the same time, for the fashionistas we speak with, there’s a growing sense that all the obvious luxury brands are becoming a little stale.
I’ve lately been wondering if this has to do with the European tradition.
It can be surprising to think that a nation born from convicts could also be a home to great luxury. Granted, times change, but traditions can be a hard thing to shake. Australia as a luxury fashion nation doesn’t quite ring true. We don’t have the culture that really cries out for the finer things in life. There can even be an aversion to overt displays of success or status.
So, as an Australian designer bag brand, we run up against a unique type of challenge in that we have an attitude that is distinctly Australian, in an industry that is quite European.
For instance, we don’t use models for our products. Our logic? Inclusion. Australia is one of the most multicultural nations on Earth with an acceptance and love for others. There are bad spots in our nation like any, but you can’t live here without a growing awareness of and appreciation for diversity.
As such, we respect that many women (and men) feel quite horrible when they see models. Either because they’re airbrushed or because they are blessed with genes others don’t have, the experience of seeing these photos reduces ones sense of self. Research even shows that regardless of weight seeing models in adverts will have a negative effect on self image.
Now, as a business, why would we want to hurt our customers? Or better yet, why would the major brands want to hurt their customers?
I only have conjecture, but since the current luxury image is all about being unattainable, it would make sense that there needs to be a detachment from the brand and the feelings of potential customers.
This then presents a unique opportunity for us. We care about people. We want them to be healthy, happy and, yes, feel luxurious. We think this has already been in existence, though, just think of Marilyn Monroe. She was a size 12 and no one would think for a second that she wasn’t glamorous!
So, we don’t feature models in the traditional sense, but will gladly broadcast images of our customers holding their luxury leather bag on social media. In doing so, we’re giving glamour back to real people.
We are also faced with another tradition that’s quite hard to take. The impersonal luxury brand. This is one of the hardest things to look at because as Australians we like to talk and have a good time. You can’t do any of that without getting wrapped up in who someone is and what they think.
That’s why we share so much about who we are as a brand and what we’ve done to exist. It’s nice to get to know people and nice for them to know us. I think this problem of impersonal brands also occurs because of the use of models. A highly manufactured individual with a bland look on their face hardly exudes friendliness.
Nevertheless, the drive to be authentic and friendly certainly makes for a different presentation. Just see our social media where we actually crack a joke! Some would say that this devalues the brand image as we’re too casual and I can see how that could be true. But in the end, the issue is really what luxury is defined as. If luxury is impersonal, inconsiderate and aloof, then why would we want to be like that?
Instead, we want to redefine luxury by showing it can be human and relatable. That one can embrace a luxury lifestyle that isn’t cloistered away from reality like some monarchies of old.
This aloofness that permeates fashion in general can be hard to understand since above and beyond anything else, a business needs people to buy from them, and to come back and buy again. So by refusing to embrace people regardless of their net worth and engage with them on a human level, these brands lose out big time as a business. In fact, some stats show luxury brands are losing 90% of their customers annually!
That, like any feedback a business receives, is a sign as to how they should lead their company. So, luxury as it currently is, doesn’t listen to anyone but just does what it pleases. Hardly likeable…
Once again, though, this offers an Australian bag brand a unique opportunity. We could just be ourselves and provide luxury that is still personable. Hardly a great leap, right?
All in all, life as an Australian designer bag brand is exhilarating! We are positioned by our culture and by the times in a great place where fashionistas are crying out for something refreshing and different. And if the traditional approach is distinctly European then an Australian flavour can only be a breath of fresh air.
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