The history of Luxury

As Charles Darwin had quoted, “We thus learn that man is descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits, and an inhabitant of the Old World” the evolution is.

How Humans evolved over many decades to be hairless mammals having descended from apes is an unresolved mystery. No research so far derived evident facts on this theory. One theory states, Sexual selection of primates depended on hair growth factor. Initially this was a physical fitness parameter of a healthy primate. Contradictory to history, eventually Hygiene of keeping away the body louse became a basic factor in choosing a partner.

The history of Clothing dates back to 650,000 years ago. Clothing is an early invention could have more than one reason. The reason could be weather, body warmth, keep away from body louse, etc. However, the exact history of Clothing has remained a mystery.

The clothing that started as a basic necessity eventually became a Gender differentiator and a Social status symbol. The hierarchy has also been depicted in “Maslow’s theory” also. As per studies, in China, the color “Yellow” was reserved for the influential society only. At a time, women had to pay tax to cover their upper body at Travancore. History reveals many such sumptuary laws, those prove societal bias was not limited to Clothing alone but extended to Food and Furniture also.

Clothing became an influential asset and it still is. Eventually, the importance of clothing beyond a basic necessity was realized. In 1330, thiruvalluvar a Tamil scholar and philosopher had said “Aazh padhi, aadai padhi” which means “Half person, Half clothes”. The attire you wear, plays an equal role to your attitude in establishing a mark of being influential, powerful and respected. Recently, we have seen the viral video in which Sonu Nigam singing on footpath, while no one could recognize the artist behind the beard and rags.

That is the mark of Luxury. A good woolen sweater and scarf is a luxury. But what made Luxury a “Luxury” as we see it today?

There are a certain things that time cannot change. Workmanship, Exclusivity, Detailing and Creativity which are by default adored and wooed. The manual hours and time it took in completing a product with finesse was placed at an exorbitant cost. And nobody denied to invest. This affordability defined the Social and Economic structure in the society.

And thus, Clothing evolved from Protection towards becoming an adornment. Quality and Attention to detailing were identified as the cost to Haute Couture which in French means “high fashion”.

“Luxury sets the price. Price does not set Luxury”.

Yes, Fashion is subjective. It changes and repeats but Luxury is a definition. The Luxury Haute Couture is a tangible touch and feel stimulator that indirectly stamps the social, economic value of a person in the society.

Europeans have retained their Cult of Luxury Fashion with Brands like Louis Vuitton, Zara, Gucci, Prada, Versace, Burberry, Armani, Fendi, etc.,Europe has remained the hub of all the Big Luxury Brands with inspiring stories of the small town founders who eventually built the big Brand.

Christian Dior in the start of his career, made his ends meet by selling his fashion sketches, and was hired as a design assistant by Paris couturier Robert Piguet who manufactured and sold his Clothing line. Dior returned to Paris and was hired by Lucien Lelong. And Dior eventually launched Christian Dior, Dior Homme and Baby Dior.

Louis Vuitton, the empress of France hired Vuitton as her box maker. Impressed by his detail oriented workmanship and elegant style of packing clothes, the demand was inbound from other affluent folks. And this was the tipping point when Louis Vuitton leather Bags and Trunks was born.

Many Luxury Brands have interesting stories of their Tipping point and breakthrough…..Today in Fashion Retailing, Brands are bracketed as Mass, Premium, Super premium, bridge Luxury and then comes LUXURY.

In India, Luxury market is new and has now started developing. When it comes to inventory based model, there is no commercial Fashion street like Park Avenue street in London and Time square in Manhattan. ShoppingMalls, Luxury Hotels and International Airports are the Marketing destinations for Luxury Brands. In India, online luxury market is not very competitive right now, which is a good news for the first movers. There are a plethora of second-hand Luxury eCommerce websites launched since 2014 like Luxepolis, Rebelle, Vintageluxury, Luxurycloset, etc.

The established players in Fashion have launched the Luxury online platforms, Darveys by Nakul Bajaj, theCollective by Aditya Birla and Reliance Luxury led by Darshan Mehta. The Luxury Fashion market in Asia has been remarkable. However, India, so far, has been manufacturer of many Premium and ultra premium Brands. Would India join the bandwagon of Luxury market alike other Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai is to be waited and watched.

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