What is luxury?

The E.Factor team has asked me to become a part of the E.Factor Blog Team and blog mainly about luxury goods. Apparently they believe I have interesting views about luxury since I ‘breath and live’ luxury. I literally grew up in my family’s jewelry business. Currently I have the honor to represent our family company, Ace Jewelers Group (www.AceJewelers.com), as the CEO of our retail organization with three physical stores and an international eBoutique.

It is up to you to decide if I have interesting views, in general and especially about luxury. In my previous and first blog posting on E.Factor I tried to give an introduction about myself by posting the Q&A I had with E.Factor. In this post, my second on E.Factor, I want to start a discussion about the definition of ‘luxury’…

… What is luxury? This is a question that I always keep on asking myself and my surroundings, ever since I am a child!

Nowadays we do not use a paper dictionary to find definitions, we search on Wikipedia… Here goes:

“Luxury can refer to several things:

* Luxury good, an economic good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises; contrast with inferior good and normal good.
* Luxury tax, a tax on products not considered essential, such as expensive cars
* Luxury tax (sports), a surcharge put on the aggregate payroll of a sports team to the extent to which it exceeds a predetermined guideline level set by the league
* Luxury vehicle, a relatively expensive automobile
* Luxury yacht, a very expensive privately owned yacht which is professionally crewed
* Luxury real estate, a niche real estate market dealing with the highest economic group of property buyers
* Luxury resorts, which are very exclusive vacation facilities
* Luxury box, a term for a special seating section in arenas, stadiums and other sports venues
* Luxury magazine, a magazine devoted to fine craft and luxury goods.”

Mmmm… I am not satisfied. I can distill some keywords from the previous sum-up: high income, non-essential, expensive, niche, exclusive and fine craft.

If we jump to Wiktionary, we find:

“Etymology: Latin luxus “abundant”

luxury (plural luxuries):

1. very wealthy and comfortable surroundings.
2. something desirable but expensive.
3. something very pleasant but not really needed in life.

Antonyms: (dispensable thing): necessity”

Second thing almost everyone does, is Google what we are looking for. If I type ‘luxury’ in Google (with a Dutch IP), the first result is the definition of Wikipedia! Interestingly enough, the second hit is the vague website eLuxury.com, that is owned by LVMH. I write vague, since it was launched as the hallmark of eCommerce of Luxury, but failed heavily. Now it is a vague promotional site for a Twitter page and Facebook page associated to this site. I will come back on eLuxury.ccom, social media and eCommerce in relation to luxury in a following blog post!

Since my childhood I was captured by the question what luxury actually is. As life evolves, ones views and opinions change too… So did my personal view and perception of luxury!

As a child I thought that the most expensive car, home, watch, diamond, etc was ultimate luxury. Of course if you look back on it, growing up in a wealthy western country in a warm and loving home is luxury. As a teenager gaining your own ‘freedom’ and making individual consumption choices of exclusive/non-essential products is often considered luxury. As soon as you start working and make your ‘own’ money, you are confronted how difficult it is to buy ‘luxury’… As Wikipedia states: “Luxury good is an economic good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises; contrast with inferior good and normal good.” and this true for a student that starts a company…But when one hits maturity you notice that luxury doesn’t necessarily needs to be linked to money… At a certain moment it can hit you that luxury can be: (free) time, friendships, health, peace, family, etc. Today my short definition of luxury is: “Something that makes one feel ‘rich’ although it does not have to do anything with money.” For example, having a great conversation with a dear friend can be a great sensation of luxury. But, I can not neglect the fact that luxury goods are often synonymous to expensive. Personally I prefer to link luxury goods to fine crafts, art and niche. These terms go hand in hand with scarcity and therefore exclusivity. And, on therefore these two terms are correlated to high prices. As a sales person I always avoid the term ‘expensive’… Everything in life is relative, everything! So, perception of monetary values are and always have been, subjective and relative. And, that is the core of the luxury… Luxury is relative! What can give someone a ‘rich feeling’ can make someone else feel depressed!

My last sentence can be considered bold and I want to give an example: I met enough people who feel richer wearing a Swatch watch compared to people who own more than one Rolex watch! Some goes for women with an engagement ring, the size of the ‘rock’ doesn’t say anything about how much a gentleman loves his wife-to-be! It is all about the story behind the products, events and services. It is all relative! I see it everyday in our stores, therefore we (Team Ace) never judge a guest (we never use the term customers). We facilitate ‘story telling’… Hence our slogan: Add Some ACE To Your Life!

Please share your vision/opinion/views of luxury here as a comment…

 

4 thoughts on “What is luxury?”

  1. Interesting views, Alon, but one thing sticks to my mind:
    “Luxury is relative”.

    Luxury, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
    What I might consider luxury, someone else might consider worthless.

  2. @Menno: Thank you very much for your response. I totally agree with you. We are so lucky that tastes differ, what a borring world it would be 😉

  3. I wasn’t so much thinking of “taste” but more in terms of circomstances. The poor man who can take his childeren once a year to the MacDonalds might consider that Luxury, while the rich man at his yacht, eating kaviar and drinking champagne every day, might be utterly bored.
    So perhaps luxury is “everything we use to escape our daily circomstances”.

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