Letter From The Editor: What is Luxury? How is its Definition Changing?

Updated March 2013

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of luxury is: A condition of abundance or great ease and comfort : sumptuous environment <lived in luxury>; a : something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary <one of life’s luxuries>.

In the Webster’s NewWorld dictionary the definition of luxury is: Luxury: the unusual intellectual or emotional pleasure or comfort derived from some specific thing, something producing such pleasure or comfort, and of course, the use and enjoyment of the best and the most costly things that offer the most physical comfort and satisfaction.

Enduring Hallmarks of Luxury

While things like prestige, exclusivity, and premium price tags are the enduring hallmarks of buying luxury items, however, there is much more to luxury than that. There is an evolution and change to the definition of the word ‘luxury’. This new definition centers on the more easily attainable aspects of luxury; something that our modern living, mass consumption lifestyles have caused the masses to move away from and now, we are returning to them: they are the aspects of QUALITY and COMFORT. These are coming back and are much sought after.

Luxury on a Mass Scale

Big name luxury brands also see this trend and are coming out with affordably priced versions of their high end items making it attainable by more people. While some of these luxuries like small goods like some handbags, shoes, accessories, chocolate, coffee, and other edibles fall into this area. There are car makers like Mercedes Benz coming out with less costly versions of their car, that still carry their famous status symbol logo and all the perks. You can still experience a better quality product. Though it does cause one to wonder, if luxury is mass, can it really be considered luxury? For example, in Asia, Louis Vuitton is viewed as a middle class brand.

Luxury as a State of Mind

“Luxury” is also a state of mind and a sensory experience. The Luxury experience extends beyond ownership of a ‘luxury’ good. There is the appreciation, attention and enjoyment that makes luxury  There are many simple luxuries that can be added without cost that can shift you into a luxurious way of thinking.  Being luxurious involves how we experience the things around us. What things do you do to make your everyday a little more luxurious?

Satisfying a Desire for Better Quality

I think the trend here is a movement back to purchasing quality and with quality, also comes comfort. Comfort in the materials used that effect the feel and experience, comfort knowing that quality lasts longer than a consumable from leading and holds its value, sometimes that value over time appreciates. And particularly where cars and luxury goods like handbags are concerned, now you benefit from better customer service experience that only buying a luxury brand brings.

Why is it being said that Luxury is the New Normal?

Its’ been said recently by financial forecasters and luxury industry experts alike that ‘luxury is becoming the new normal’. It is my thought that there is a flaw in that thinking and is further damaging to the already fractured definition of luxury. Perhaps mass manufactured products need to raise the bar and return to a state of higher quality instead of the disposable nature they poses in order to restore consumer confidence.

What are your thoughts? What is your definition of luxury? The definition continues to evolve as the markets expand and new emerging markets demand more of luxury goods, services and experiences. What are your thoughts on the definition of ‘normal and ‘luxury’? Email us your thoughts and stories or share on Twitter.

Think and ‘BE’ more Luxurious!

By Angela Tunner, Editor in Chief and Founder, EAT LOVE SAVOR Magazine, International