The January 2008 Editor's Letter by Pamela Fiori provides an excellent overview of the topic. Here's a summary with a few of my comments thrown in:
How Luxury Has Changed:
- Less exclusivity: "The luxury industry is no longer the small, exclusive club of a few-well established brands, most of them French or Italian." -- Pamela Fiori/T&C **Frugal Translation: Don't be a slave to expensive labels or expensive marketing campaigns.
- Production shifts: The world of luxury no longer means hand-made items in limited supply. **Frugal Translation: Merchandise does not have to be scarce, expensive or heavily hyped to be luxurious. Define luxury in your own terms.
- New demographics/flea market finds: Old-school T&C luxury couple -- White married couple in formal clothing in a period room decorated with Old Masters paintings and formal family portraits. New-age T&C luxury couple: "[Not] necessarily white, married or even heterosexual." This couple appears in T&C dressed in casual clothing and vintage jewelry, in a home filled with eclectic furniture (including flea market finds and custom-built items) and digital art. **Frugal Translation: Luxury is being comfortable with who you really are and where you really live. Flea market finds are just as good as high-end labels.
- The wannabe market & the ripoffs: Global production and online shopping have created an unusual playing field in the luxury market. Smaller and mid-ranged players have more clout and produce genuine quality merchandise. But the rip-offs and the me-too players are also out there: "Other lower-level enterprises just want easy entry and are making the claim of being luxury when they really aren't." --T&C **Frugal Translation: Watch your back. Watch out for fakes. Don't overpay. It's all made in China anyway.
Non-Material Definitions of Luxury:Luxury is not just about stuff. Here are some of the other perks mentioned by T&C
- quality time
- a good haircut
- spa dates
- manicures, etc.
- Vacations without work, email or computer. (It would feel almost decadent to go on a vacation and not work for even an hour. Note: I understand that I am very fortunate to have work.)
- More time with my family, including my parents, siblings and extended family.
- Long walks every day.
- More beach days.
- Professional help with housework.
- A cone of ice cream (at least once a week).
- More sleep.
- A quarterly spa date tune-up.
- Extra time to write fiction.
- A monthly museum date.
- Time to donate hours to my children's schools.
- An elegant restaurant meal.
- A weekend stay at a four- or five-star hotel.
- Season tickets for the Miami Heat.
- Personal yoga trainer.
- Health insurance. (That's a real luxury!)
Bottom Line: My definition of luxury primarily involves having the time, energy & money to fully enjoy my family without worrying about the next paycheck, bills or work. It's also a luxury to have time to relax. But as I look at my list, I realize that I can tap into some of those luxuries at any time. I just have to jump off of the treadmill of worry. Luxury is not all about the money; it's my attitude also.
Reformed Spenders Provide 10 Ways to Save in 2008
Barking Dogs, Stinking Turtles and Sick Hamsters Taught Me About Money
Cheap Travel Guide: Month-by-Month, City-by-City Hotel Savings Rates
Be Smart about Face Time & Other Tips for Building Job Security
Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in the Spring of 2008 by DPL Press.