Opinion

Luxury: Why Green Is The New Gold

You are welcome to share your thoughts on this article written by Jonathan Ford, Co-founding Partner of  Pearlfisher

The media is still awash with Oscar fever and winners clutching gold statuettes whilst every female celeb worth her salt has ‘borrowed’ hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of bling to adorn the equally expensive frocks that all the journos are praising and condemning in equal measure…Not only that but—for the first time ever—the traditional take-home goody bag was replaced by various new luxury ‘gifting suites’ which were toured by the Oscar nominees on the eve of the ceremony. Proof, if it was ever brought into question, that awards ceremonies and luxury go hand in hand. Or, do they? Interestingly, among the various suites on offer was the ‘Alive! Expo Green Pavilion & Mix Media Luxury Lounge’ at the London Hotel. This suite was offering eco-products ‘with a flair for luxury’ including organic spa treatments and diamonds and donations being made to the Project Green charity. And whilst Colin was the man of the moment on both sides of the Atlantic (with a BAFTA followed by an Oscar win), his wife Livia also courted media attention by favouring ‘green glamour’ and only choosing eco fashion choices for the awards ceremonies. This shift has been coming for a long time and once again the celebrity circus will inevitably fuel its momentum…But what does it really mean for the future of the luxury landscape and the brands within it?

Just in the past couple of weeks, it was reported that LVMH—one of the world’s largest and most revered Luxury groups—had taken over organic skincare brand—NUDE. And buy-outs such as this highlight just the extent of the change taking place in the mainstream luxury sector. In the new luxury world order, eco and sustainable credentials are now becoming integral to the luxury brand offer. Eco is desirable but we still want luxury brands to offer a premium—and equally desirable—look and feel. Approaching ‘good-ness’ and ‘green-ness’ needs to be a careful balancing act for the traditional luxury brands.

These brands have always traded on exclusivity but today’s consumer desire is based on visibility and being more open, honest and transparent about their offer and actions. It is time for these brands to address more than their brand face and understand that being more committed, visible and inclusive should enhance rather than damage their reputation. Luxury today is not about money but about connection; about merging business and our collective health, wealth, environment, culture, commerce in a more seamless and transparent way.

Luxury brands should embrace the fact that luxury today is no longer confined to certain categories and is being redefined. But it’s not just a question of mentally—or literally—swapping colour allegiance from gold to green but understanding the power of brand design in building a new and iconic luxury status. All design challenges are about resolving problems, and in this respect that’s all we have to do—think differently about what luxury means, by looking at a host of new creative opportunities which can appeal to the hearts, minds and desires of the luxury consumer whilst addressing our changing environment. We can design out and minimise the bad, the excess or unnecessary and design in and maximise the sustainable, the pure and the ethical. Of course it won’t happen overnight but these brands are already in a phenomenal place from which to source, build in and develop an appropriate ethical or sustainable interpretation and, in this way, secure a future positioning in a new luxury world order.

Time for luxury to impress without the excess?

About the Author

Jonathan Ford is a designer and co-founding partner of Pearlfisher. He oversees a portfolio of award-winning designs, including a high profile list of ethical, entrepreneurial and iconic brands. He is also a frequent speaker at high-profile international industry events and regular contributor and commentator in the design and brand press.

Jonathan can also be followed on Twitter—@Jforddesigns