Ask any luminary from the fashion or design world for their definition of luxury and it’s likely they’ll reference things like ‘space’ or ‘time to think’ rather than expensive objects made from rare materials. Another macro trend were seeing is people increasingly seeking out experiences rather than possessions to spend their hard earned money on. So what do these two factors mean in terms of what we perceive as a luxurious material nowadays? Once the answer to this was easy, exotic leathers like crocodile or stingray, rare natural fibers, like alpaca or cashmere or precious metals such as gold or platinum. These were the building blocks of luxury goods.
But the desire for experiences over possessions has resulted in a greater interest in performance material and technical fabrics, as they enable people to do more adventurous activities or at least aspire to. Brands like Arcteryx, a manufacturer of technical high-performance outerwear for climbers most recently launched a sub-brand – Veilance. Veilance applies their knowledge of performance materials such as Gore-Tex and techniques such as bonded seams and applied it to much more tailored garments - think North Face meets Savile Row. Arcteryx Veilance is one of the hottest brands of the moment as evidenced by it’s listing on arbiter of men’s style, MrPorter.com.
If technical fabrics are one way that luxury seems to be heading then sustainable materials is definitely another. Here brands like Patagonia have really cut through. The brand has arguably the most rigorous approach to minimizing it’s impact of any in the world. From carefully selecting the materials used (organic cotton, hemp, recycled nylon) to the processes used to construct it’s garments and the conditions of workers, Patagonia exhibits best practice in environmentally conscious manufacturing.
G-Star http://bionicyarn.com/ shows how mass appeal brands are using a more sustainable approach to created desire. Their partnership with Bioyarn has resulted in a collection curated by Pharrell Williams. Similar to Ocean Collection, Bioyarn uses processed marine debris as it’s dominant material.
All of these examples result in items that gives the wearer a story to tell and a feeling that there is more to the garment than just how it looks or feels. Luxury is changing, stay tuned.