A Millennial Approach to Luxury
When it comes to sustainable fashion in luxury it has become more than a buzzword; it has become a conscious necessity. In particular for millennial and Generation Z consumers.
In fashion, there has been a paradigm shift linked directly to the fact that these generations are exposed to the internet and social networks. Making them aware of social and economic issues linked to the way we consume and wanting to take action. Millennials are mindful consumers. It’s no longer sufficient to use the best quality leather for your designer handbag. Millennial consumers want the product to be made of ethically sourced raw materials that respect fair trade and use sustainable production practices.
So how are millennials are transforming the luxury market? And more importantly: how can we stay chic and sustainable at the same time?
Digital natives with a conscious, millennials like myself care about what and how we consume. 14% of consumers from the ages 18 to 24 complete their first luxury purchase online. What is more, today although millennials only represent 32% of spending in the luxury market, come 2025, millennials are expected to make up 50% of the luxury market (FORBES, 2019). Meaning that we have a direct impact on the luxury market as future consumers with a substantial purchasing power. Luxury brands aware of this are upping their green game. Conscious that luxury sustainability will become synonymous with our way of consuming fashion.
“Sustainability will continue to advance in importance,” Sarah Willersdorf, partner and managing director at BCG and Global Head of Luxury explains. “It will feed both the secondary-luxury market as well as give a lift to limited-run collaborations which show a brand’s respect for not flooding the market with too much merchandise.”
Some luxury fashion brands such as Stella McCartney are already way ahead of the game. In 2018, Gucci also eradicated fur from their collections in an effort towards ethical manufacturing their creations.
Purchase decisions are shifting and the luxury landscape with it. For example 56% of true-luxury consumers are attuned to luxury brands’ stance on social responsibility. 62% choose to do business with a brand that supports sustainability over a brand that does not, compared with 50% in 2013. Interestingly, sustainable luxury consumers are primarily concerned with the environment (37%), animal care (27%) and ethical manufacturing (21%). Whilst millennials top priorities are on the environment (42%) and animal treatment (26%), versus Boomers whose primary concern is ethical manufacturing (32%). (FORBES, 2019)
The characteristics of millennial behavior are seeping into older generations— which accounted for 73% of luxury purchases in 2016. (Bain & Company)
The stigma of second-hand luxury fashion goods is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
“Second-hand luxury is rapidly becoming mainstream,” Willersdorf says. “And it is not just the lower price that attracts these true-luxury consumers. It is often the only way they can buy scarce, limited-edition, special sold-out collaborations missed the first time or vintage items.”
Breathing a second life into your wardrobe – traditionally considered less impressive than getting a new shiny item – is now the cool thing to do. Lending, renting and buying clothes second hand luxury goods is an eco-friendly trend in 2020 that is here to stay.
Unsurprisingly handbags make up 40% of all pre-owned purchases. The most popular and purchased pre-owned brands are the big players such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Dior. With Vestiaire Collective at the forefront (BCG, 2019). I can honestly say that my first purchase was indeed a pre-loved Balenciaga City Bag bought with my first paycheck. The reasons for this? Firstly, it was a classic in Balenciaga’s permanent collection and bound to stay in style for years to come. Second, I happened to have spotted the exact same petrol blue bag on the arm of my favorite fashion blogger Chiara Ferrangi. And lastly, it was a little treat from me to me without breaking the bank but still investing in a quality, luxury item that I still have, wear and love. Timeless style, the product’s qualify and prestige are all key factors Millennials take into account when purchasing a luxury good such as a handbag.
Moreover, Millennials (myself included) are known to spend time, endlessly exploring and comparing their retail options, both online and in-store. My favorite luxury resale websites include The RealReal, Ruelala and of course Vestiare Collective. Also if you are looking for a hard go find piece Lyst is amazing. Whilst Swiss equivalents include LuxuryLove and Reawake in Zurich and Vintage Garderobe and Downtown Uptown in Geneva.