What "luxury" will look like in the modern world
PLUS: King Louis XIV ruled for 7 decades??
A story in Charlie Chaplin’s autobio (highly recommend btw), about the early days of Beverly Hills, CA struck me.
He talked about the “dreary” and “ugliness” of Beverly Hills when he first made his move into Hollywood.
("How can I make movies in this shithole?”)
What was Mr. Chaplin alluding to when he said this? And how was Beverly Hills able to perceive itself as a “luxury” powerhouse? Especially if it was a fucking dump?
I’ll get back to this in a bit. But first, how we got to the concept of luxury will surprise you.
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Louis [XIV] errrthanggg
The allure of looking and feeling “luxurious” came from the French king, Louis XIV. Throughout his lifetime, he dignified himself as a forceful and bold ruler through the way he dressed. With a reign spanning 7 decades, you can bet he’s had a major influence on our fashion.
He carefully coordinated his fashion choices to project an image of strength. He established red as a prestigious and powerful color. Almost a status symbol. Like if you wore red, and you were lucky enough, you were the shit. He popularized the three-piece suit. Oh, and high heels.
And to think that he ruled for 72 years while being obsessed with fashion and luxury nonstop. It spread like wildfire. It created a whole damn industry. He employed nearly 1/3 of his population - who made things like furniture, clothes, jewels, the works. He even had a hand in creating “trends” by demanding new styles to be introduced 2 times a year. The economy exploded and luxury fashion trends were being established.
His development of court culture and demand for a strict and lavish dress code created an accidental marriage between possessions and power. He wanted to establish that his things stood for him, while he stood for the nation. Because of these lavish requirements, Louis XIV created the French luxury sector as we know it.
modern luxury and its complexity
The parallels between Louis XIV’s reign, from an economic standpoint, and the present are crazy. Our working class is growing rapidly because of the gig economy, we’re starting to see the middle disappear. And the significant growth of the upper class has pushed the economy in a new direction. And modern luxury brands are at the forefront.
Net consumption continues to grow despite the crazy amount of store closures. The new flush of brands into the market is becoming so advanced in their strategies, it’s creating the affinity for exclusivity like never before.
You know what I’m talking about. Supreme product drops. Kith Monday Program. Huge marketplaces like StockX and GOAT?? But also providing superior service and high-quality production. And we fucking love it and can’t get enough (including myself).
I could write a whole bunch more on this, but I’ll give you the skinny. What’s happening with modern luxury is called the Veblen effect. It’s a rare form of economics. As prices rise, so does demand. And we see that with brands like Off-White, Yeezy, etc…
The Veblen effect and fashion have gone hand in hand throughout our history. But none as significant as Louis XIV and the present with modern luxury playing an important role in each economy.
about the Charlie Chaplin thing
It’s all due to perception.
In those times, people consumed content through radio and word of mouth. No social. So the allure of Beverly Hills and the luxury, initially, was a phony. Yet people yearned for it. And moved to Beverly Hills in droves. It created substantial economic growth. Dreams turned to reality.
We’re so unique as people. It’s crazy all of this growth and complexities can happen just because of how we want to be perceived. Wild when you really think about it.
random outfit inspo
Maiden Noir SS19 collection draws influence from landscape architecture // Floral-infused with a rainbow palette.
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See you next Tuesday,
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