Monday, March 14, 2016
luxury leads the way
One of my favorite aspects of the luxury industry is the innovation. From new fabrics and construction, to the must-have colors and crazes, creativity is celebrating nowhere more than in the luxury industry. As a client, part of the allure is exclusivity and nowness, a combination of being both new and cutting edge. It's the perfect combination of being edgy and edited, excited without being too eccentric. As a businessman, the hardest part of the industry is being exclusive without being too exclusionary or out of reach.
One of the easiest ways for luxury houses to reach all demographics is through accessories and beauty products. Your budget might not allow for Christian Louboutin's latest heels, but you may indulge yourself with their latest nail polish. You might not spring for a $30,000 Hermes bag, but a bottle of perfume or cologne might be much more accessible. From sandals to sunglasses, it's often these entry level categories that often fund the fashion houses, followed by more substantial footwear, ready-to-wear, fine jewelry, and ultimately couture. The more labor intensive, the more exotic the materials, the more expensive the final cost.
Styles and trends often trickle down from the luxury segment to the mass produced segment. One trend I've noticed lately is the widespread use of oud. Dating back to biblical times, the wise men were truly wise, bringing frankincense and myrrh as a gift. The trend of gifting fragrance continues today. The most exclusive, expensive ingredient for fragrance is Oud, the heartwood of the Aquilaria trees in southeast Asia. Oud is particularly prized in the Middle East, known for scenting homes, wardrobes, and clothing. The ingredient itself is known for being particularly long lasting, very delicate, and very specific in aroma. Because of this, and the limited quantity produced, the price of raw oud is many times the price of gold. Additionally, the price is only climbing, as the availability of the wild resources of oud are simply disappearing and depleting. Since 1995, the primary source for oud, Aquilaria malaccenis, has been designated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has potentially threatened, although many countries are excluded from the listing. Just like fine wines and balsamic vinegar, the value and age go hand and hand. It's warm, earthy, gentle, sometimes smoky, and almost like smelling fresh wind in the desert on a warm summer's night.
My favorite fragrances with oud hands down are Tom Ford's private blends. Mr. Ford describes it himself as rare, exotic, and distinctive. Just like the fragrances often burned in the temples of Buhtan, this fabulous fragrance contains exotic rose wood and caradmom that give way tot he smoky blend of rare oud wood, sandalwood, and vetiver, and are finished with tonka bean and amber for even more warmth and sensuality. You'll find other versions featuring Oud + Tobacco and Oud + Fleur as well, along with soaps, beard conditioning oils, shower gels, and moisturizers. For more details, phone Yvonne at Tom Ford's Chicago Boutique on +1.312-605-5041 or Tonya at Nashville's Tom Ford Beauty inside Nordstrom at +1.615.850.6700.
Oud isn't just a trend for luxury fragrances. On a recent trip to Target, I even noticed an "oud" like deodorant from very accessible Axe. The brand describes it as "A subtle, woody scent with juicy mandarin, fresh black pepper and sensual vanilla. A premium quality, long-lasting fragrance." While I seriously doubt the inclusion of actual Oud in the formula, it's very interesting to see such a distinct fragrance in a mass produced environment.
What other trends and concepts are you loving that transcend demographics and price points?