New luxury: from elite consumption to conscious consumerism


How younger generations are molding new consumption habits.

Luxury brand goods have lost their perceived unattainable status. Especially in millennials and gen z, there is newfound appreciation towards fashion. Motivating factors are social media influencers, general higher public engagement, and new ways of identity expression.

In other words, luxury purchasing has shifted from the traditional customer profile and reached a broader audience. The fashion industry landscape is going through severe changes overtime driven by its new customers, redefining previous mental negative associations (i.e. excess, waste, frivolousness, consumerism).

“Millennials, those born from 1978-1992, represent only about 32% of spending in the personal luxury market, but by 2025 they are expected to make up 50% of the total market” (Forbes, 2019). The importance of new generations did not pass unnoticed. Brands took note and repositioned themselves through collaborations and broadened their reach through new marketing channels; moving away from exclusive tradition and responsively engaging with young customers.

Historically, conspicuous and competitive consumption refers to the race towards the acquisition of luxury goods to display it as a social status. Inherently a classist concept, leveraging onto mass inaccessibility. The goal in the past was to be perceived as rich and distinguish themselves from the poor.

Currently, the end goal is much broader and connected to the emotional side. Consumers value fashionability, goods that are perceived to make positive statements, helping to manage day-to-day life and retain quality.

Not all younger generations can afford such goods. Yet they share a symbiotic relationship, exposed and part of the culture. Regardless of personal choice, these generations with the advent of the internet and worldwide accessibility, have connected in unprecedented ways; responding thus reshaping the market and fashion industry landscape around them and at the same time defining their own generational distinct culture. In short, “these people not only transmit information but contribute to the construction and interpretation of common ideals” (Nowak & Vallacher, 2005).

Those who are not privileged enough and unable to have access to luxury products, keep with the latest trends through fast fashion. Given similar negative mental perceptions as the luxury industry, it may appear as bad news. In reality, the whole fashion industry is currently on a trajectory towards sustainability.

All major brands including fast-fashion ones have shown some sign of commitment and the coronavirus seems to be influencing the process. Once again, the trigger of such changes could be very much the young consumers, as they are highly knowledgeable of the current climate change crisis and seeking sustainable alternatives to reduce their footprint.

Di Marcotrigiano Nazarena

Fonti :


Marcotrigiano Nazarena

Studentessa universitaria poliglotta all’estero. Amante dell’arte, cultura e sperimentazione in nuovi progetti. Nel tempo libero rifletto in formato scritto su argomenti relativi alla cultura popolare e questioni sociali. Il tutto per stimolare e prendere parte ad un dibattito costruttivo.


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