Minimalist Luxury: Less is More

Quality over quantity – defines minimalistic luxury in a nutshell.

Minimalism emotes being minimal, i.e. consuming less and only what one truly needs. When combined with luxury, it embodies a design that is simple, sophisticated while being aesthetically pleasing. In context of luxury, minimalism should give you an immense sense of satisfaction and the product should aid in enhancing your overall lifestyle. It helps you optimize your investment offering a highest level of satisfaction in Maslow’s need hierarchy theory. These investments are a sheer reflection of what drives you and brings you joy.

Since the dawn of time, through the era of monarchies to today’s young billionaires in tech and entertainment, luxury products have been key in defining a class and differentiating between one class to another. From what they wear, rather, who they wear ( designers), to what they drive, how they fly, where they shop and eat and much more has been central in who brands place themselves in the luxury market.

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Conspicuous Consumption
Sitcoms in the late 1900’s have also been seen glamourizing their characters in silk Versace dresses with Louis Vuitton handbags. This visibility of brands with their logos on fashion clothing, accessories, automobiles gave rise to a culture of Conspicuous consumption. A term that essentially means the people with deep pockets purchased new luxury items more often so as they could consume in public and hence show their standing in the society. In a simpler term, conspicuous consumption can also be referred to as showy consumption, an act where the rich were putting their wealth on display via various luxury products to appear as a more desirable class.

Noted researchers have found that people who spend a substantial amount on luxury products have a need and desire to communicate a certain aspect of themselves to the world. And this very human need and notion to reflect a part of themselves, their wealth essentially, is the core reason for the luxury industry to strive and produce more. When people buy luxury brands, not all care for its quality, craftsmanship or longevity, a large number of luxury buyers are aspiring customers or new to the world of wealth who want to communicate to the society that they have arrived. What better way than to buy a brand new LV bag with its logo high and visible. The crux of luxury’s new buyers lies in the fact on how it helps them to silently communicate their standing in society, their economic wealth, their social status and consumption patterns.

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With the pandemic pushing the retail sector to a halt and luxury brands suffering under the pain of global lockdowns, the already existing but barely visible concept of minimalist luxury has come into picture, bigger than ever. Over the past few decades there has been a general shift in luxury consumption, this shift is moving towards less is more concept. For a small part of the population luxury is not  a new concept and hence they are accustomed to knowing luxury brands that offer top of the range craftsmanship. For this part of the world population, quality is valued more than quantity, more sophisticated design that bold logo prints on leather bags.

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Minimalism in Luxury
In the fashion sector, luxury brands are known for their extensive use of logos, bold colors and designs that help customers directly relate the products to luxury. While this glitz and glamor is widely associated with luxury fashion, there are a number of brands that believe in the concept of less is more when it comes to design. Their focus gets refined over the years in understanding what luxury is, and purchases become less with more quality, limited edition pieces, simple and aesthetic design.

In their own journey of purchasing luxury products, people are known to refine their taste over a period of time from communicating the brand or experiencing the product for themselves and leveling up their lifestyle.

A few examples of brands that have aced this concept over the past few decades are:

Bottega Veneta
Founded in 1966, Bottega Veneta is a global luxury brand known for its handbags, accessories, range of fragrance and clothing. The brand reached new heights of success in late 60’s to 70’s with its distinctive weaving texture using leather, which soon became a signature move for the brand. Bottega Veneta is also known for its incredible high quality, discreet elegance and sophistication along with fine craftsmanship. One of their widely known products has been the Knot Clutch by Bottega Veneta.

Kelly and Birkin by Hermes
Hermes is a French brand synonymous with luxury. Kelly and Birkin are two widely popular handbags by Hermes that offer modern minimal luxury experience. The birth of both of these bags, in history, offer us a brief hint on how both were made from very different perspectives. The Kelly was designed as a statement stylish bag of luxury for a princess ( that helped bring fame to the bag) while the Birkin was designed as an everyday bag, with more holding capacity for all essentials.

Both brands showcase a bare minimum logo, barely visible to the naked eye from a distance which when compared to other luxury brands using their logo all across the bags is a striking difference and a measure of how luxury minimalism has been used as the key selling point by Hermes.

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Issey Miyake
One of the most iconic designers of all time, Issey Miyake – is known globally to promote minimalist fashion with their unique and refined designs that focus on clean cuts. His designs have shaped the industry and redefined gender  norms, especially with his oversized silhouettes and asymmetrical cuts. Also known widely for his pleating technique that offers texture and new flavor to the garment without adding anything to it. Known for the use of authentic raw materials, the brand often rejected established dress codes and designed logo-free, more democratic designs that were easily differentiable.

Tiffany and Co.
While jewelry is known to define luxury, Tiffany and Co. have led the market on minimalism in jewelry and have been well known for their long legacy in diamonds and heritage craftsmanship. Established in 1837, Tiffany and Co has an iconic history of producing innovative designs, globally known to have offered the world a symbol of love in the shape of a diamond ring. Brand is known to focus and keep their eyes on the bigger picture – quality, creativity, sustainability, accessibility, exceptional standard and constant innovation. Not to forget, their Tiffany Blue Box – that has become a global symbol of style, unparalleled design and refined sophistication. 

With its recent showcase at fashion week of subtle sensuality to their iconic handbags, Prada works with the concept of northern Italian tradition which are of keeping a sense of discreet elegance in their designs and refine it further with fine craftsmanship. Their products, from clothing to accessories and handbags, are globally defined as classics, easy to carry in any era offering a strong sense of being to the consumer.

Minimalism, if understood in this way, is also a rational or practical response of a human to a period of excess. When a particular person has been born and raised with luxury products, their sensibilities become more refined over time for purchasing luxury products and hence minimalism comes into play. 


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Author: Mankiran

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