A decade of increased demand and growth, coupled with the simultaneous growth of digital, changed the visibility and accessibility of luxury brands. In addition, celebrity culture and social media cast influence over our choices like never before. These factors have led to changes in consumer attitudes, behaviours and the very definition of ‘luxury’. And, in turn, this has forced many luxury brands to think about their customers and how they connect with new audiences.
Luxury fashion brands have been taking inspiration from streetwear and have borrowed from subcultures for decades. Or, as some see it, did streetwear infiltrate luxury? Either way, the result is ‘new luxury’, and what’s different is that luxury brands have learned to stretch, successfully selling both high-end couture and affordable fashion, thus gaining a larger share of the market. Consumers, including millennials, are happy to trade up and down from mid-market price points, placing ‘absolute’ luxury items in their baskets alongside cheaper items.
But streetwear brand collaborations also give luxury brands an edge. It means luxury brands can represent what’s new, as well as representing high quality and exclusivity. Rather than watching and modifying styles from emerging designers, in collaboration luxury brands can part-own new styles and bring them to market themselves. Luxury brand marketers are able to leverage the attributes of streetwear style – associating additional attributes their brands do not possess – such as Louis Vuitton’s hugely successful collaboration with Supreme. In this way, streetwear keeps luxury brands fresh for loyal audiences and makes it relevant to new, younger audiences – the lifeblood for all brands, including the high-end ones.