Luxury Apparel: The New Wave

Luxury Apparel: The New Wave

Luxury had a steady growth trajectory in 2018 and is one of the most optimistic sectors in apparel for the coming year, according to the McKinsey State of Fashion 2019 Report. Interestingly enough, in an industry fraught with rising costs and a consumer that objects to paying full-price, luxury has made a comeback.

In 2018, Balenciaga, Gucci, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Off-White, Yeezy, Calvin Klein, Prada, Raf Simmons, and Stone Island topped the list of most influential brands, according to HighSnobiety. The same report revealed that the new luxury consumer chooses brands that are in line with their “socially conscious” views and have a point of view.

Storytelling is Important

Cedric Charbit, Cheif Executive of Balenciaga, told the Mckinsey report that “A product can no longer be only and purely craftsmanship plus creativity and heritage: we need to add value and emotion to it.” This idea was behind the controversial Nike campaign with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick lost his career in the league over a kneeling controversy in protest of racial injustice in the U.S. This time he fought back with a bold black and white portrait emblazoned with “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The Nike symbol proudly lay over it. After the erection of billboards in San Fransisco and New York, Nike stock rose to an all-time high.

Then, Balenciaga partnered with the World Food Programme for their Fall/Winter ’18 collection. Artistic Director Demna Gvasalia sent models down the runway with neon-colored hoodies and layered shirts sporting the organization’s emblem. He stated, “We consider this partnership with The World Food Programme to be an important step in making fashion useful in a different way and supporting good causes with our products whenever possible.”

Luxury Must Self-Disrupt

Luxury is changing. Sourcing Journal Online posed the question, “What is a traditional luxury brand to do when a swish is more covetable then a monogram?” It used to symbolize being a part of an “elite and aspirational club” and as “an expression of wealth.”

Now, while there’s still a price to pay, it’s about an expression of uniqueness and alignment with its values. Cedric Charbit added, “Fashion cannot lock itself in the so-called ivory tower anymore.” Balenciaga has been pushing the boundaries with their design for over 100 years, but realized that they, “need to be conscious of the world and reflect what’s happening.”

Consumers Want to Participate

Arguably, another “new barrier of entry is the journey,” NOT just the purchase. The new wave of luxury brands creates an experience and a community. In the same way, Nike and Balenciaga are using their platforms to raise awareness.

Through collaborations, campaigns, limited edition products, charitable events, and festivals they’re telling the brand’s story. Ultimately, the consumer feels they’ve “earned the item through participation.” Luxury isn’t just something you can buy your way into any longer.

Hundreds of domestic and international exhibitors will be showcasing their unique products and brand story at our Apparel Textile Sourcing shows. Don’t miss out, register for free for an upcoming show:

Apparel Textile Sourcing Miami– May 28th-30th, 2019

Apparel Textile Sourcing Canada August 19th-21st, 2019

Apparel Textile Sourcing Germany September 11th-13th, 2019


Author: Christine Duff

Christine wants to live in a world filled with cutting edge fashion, beautiful words and and an endless supply of leather jackets and boots. A product development grad of FIDM, she was the Editor-in-Chief of MODE Magazine where she reignited her love of storytelling. She has diverse experience within the industry with trend research, art direction and styling editorial spreads. She gained her most notable experience working in Los Angeles at the satellite operation for GQ and Vogue Thailand. Christine is passionate about social science and the role it plays in the consumer goods industry and apparel in particular.