The luxury industry can often be hard to keep up with, and 2018 was no exception. The combination of quickly changing trends, rapidly evolving scandals and constant innovation make it easy to miss out on the key headlines. That’s why we’ve put together a retrospective covering everything you missed about luxury in 2018. Whether you’re here for a quick recap or as part of a new-found interest for the new year, this short resumé will give you all the info you need to stay in the know.
Gucci Hallucination: Inspired by Ophelia (1852) by John Everett Millais ¦ gucci.com
Our lives become more and more intertwined with digital interfaces with each year that passes. So as not to get left behind in this digital revolution, many brands have started to place a heavy focus on their digital strategies as well as the more technological aspects of their products. This year, we’ve seen the boom of the home assistant; seemingly every living room now comes equipped with its own Alexa or Google Home, keeping us connected to our homes at any time. This idea of connection has taken off in a number of industries, but none more so than the luxury car industry. Connected cars are no longer a thing of dreams. Thanks to the work of companies like Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Jaguar, we can now track, secure and control our vehicles from our phones. Luxury fashion groups and retailers have also embraced digital innovation this year. Gucci, for instance, teamed up with Spanish artist Ignasi Montreal for their virtual reality based “Gucci Hallucination” in spring of last year.
As the global social consciousness changes, as does the market. 2018 was the year of social justice, giving way to the dismantling of toxic masculinity and the acceptance of others no matter their shape, size or colour. The launch of Chanel’s first makeup line, “Boy de Chanel”, in September of last year seemed to mark a new era of acceptance, chipping away at the long-standing gender boundaries that have previously prevented such a collection. The beauty industry also made strides for inclusivity with many brands including Dior and Fenty Beauty launching lines of foundation with an expansive range of up to 40 different shades. Whilst there is still much to be done to assure true diversity and inclusivity, this year has seen the industry make big steps towards a better future.
In 2018, health became the new wealth. With the growing impact of social media, the concept of wellness has become a buzzword of sorts over the past few years; there are over 21.4 million Instagram posts tagged with #wellness and thousands of influencers and gurus to guide you on your wellness journey. According the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry was worth a massive $4.2 trillion USD in 2018 and shows no signs of stopping after growth of 12.8% between 2015 and 2017. This means that consumers now have an increased concern for their health and wellbeing, as such brands have been making changes to capitalise on this trend. Hilton has long been a proponent of wellness and has taken this a step further with the development of their “Five Feet to Fitness” programme. The scheme includes suites with more than 11 pieces of fitness equipment to help travellers work out in the comfort and privacy of their own room. The success of cult beauty brand Glossier is also testament to the growing impact of wellness. The brand, which focuses on a more natural, ‘your-skin-but-better’ approach, managed to reach over $100 million USD in revenue for 2018.
D&G in China
In what was perhaps the most controversial turn of events in fashion in 2018, D&G saw their reputation plummet in luxury industry’s fastest growing market. Following outcry concerning a controversial social media campaign, the 500-look “Great Show” catwalk was cancelled by Chinese government authorities. A video of a Chinese model trying to eat Italian food with chopsticks was posted to the brand’s Weibo account and sparked so much uproar that it was taken down within 24 hours. The effects of this media storm were then worsened by racist comments made, supposedly by a “hacker”, via Stefano Gabbana’s own Instagram account. After what was the second controversy to afflict Dolce & Gabbana that year, can the brand bounce back in 2019 to reclaim its image in this burgeoning market? Read the full story here.
Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton
In March of last year, fashion house Louise Vuitton surprised audiences worldwide with the appointment of Virgil Abloh as artistic director for their menswear department. The unexpected collaboration connoted a shift in not only runway trends, but in the industry’s mindset. Abloh, founder of streetwear brand Off-White, started his education in architecture and his creative mindset saw him take on the role of Kanye West’s image consultant and art director. His unconventional parcours led him to become first black designer to hold such a prestigious position within LVMH; both of which represent a move towards diversity and out of the typical fashion mould. Find out more here.
The Death of Kate Spade
Fashion designer and founder of the now iconic Kate Spade brand was found dead following a suspected suicide attempt in June of 2018. The company’s line of handbags, wallets, homeware and clothing became a household name following its rapid expansion in the 90s. The designer’s death brought into question the universality of mental illness and sparked a conversation that needed to be had. Kate Spade leaves behind not only a bespoke legacy in fashion but has also helped others to open up about their own struggles. Read more here.
What does the future hold for the luxury industry? With a shifting economic landscape on an international scale, but also internally within key markets such as the US and China, big changes are expected to take place this year. Consumer tastes have also seen drastic changes over the past year, which are only set to intensify; a stronger, internalised focus on issues such as sustainability, inclusivity and personalisation will be key in keeping the attention of the contemporary customer. Such fluctuating dynamics in the industry mean that the playing field is no longer just reserved for the big, well known brands. Digital innovation has allowed smaller, up and coming companies to earn a place in the top spots. All of this should make for an interesting year in the luxury industry.