I remember the first time someone asked me to define luxury…I drew a blank. After reading, studying and visiting some retailers I’ve come to the conclusion that luxury = treat yourself. In the following post, we’ll take a look at experiential and gourmet products that are present at luxury retailers.
In terms of experiential luxury, Saville Row provides more than aspiration for the shopper. One can purchase a plethora of suits from low to high-end at a variety of stores, but the Saville Row suit is completely different. In fact, bespoke tailoring offered at Saville Row is an ‘experience in luxury’ that once was only destined for royalty and international nobles.
For instance, British royalty have been getting their suits made on the historically renowned Saville Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes (see below). The service, which can take up to three month, helps the customer get a perfectly fitted tailored suit with every element customized to their preference. Some Saville Row tailors will travel to New York or Los Angeles biyearly to take the orders of their customers in the United States of America. The street name is in fact a brand of luxury, where customers know that the tailors on this street will offer them the most luxurious experience possible in terms of bespoke suit making.
As discussed earlier in our previous post regarding the store environment, luxury retailing is also made to be consumed. Retailers such as La Durée and Fauchon offer a gourmet experience to their customers. In fact, any given customer can purchase macaroons among a variety of specialty products which can be consumed on the premises. These products are made to be consumed and can be considered affordable luxuries since 20 euro in these shops are sufficient to order lunch, desert and a drink. While I was enjoying my café au lait and my pain aux olives et tomates séchées at Fauchon, a finely dressed woman was seated reading a paper of the day. She had been served a glass of cold champagne, a small salad and a little chocolate. Although champagne with brunch is not uncommon in certain circles in Montréal, this scene made me realize that this gourmet experience had one purpose for this woman: “treating herself”. Consequently, gourmet retailing allows consumers to afford taking time to treat themselves.
While gourmet shoppers can eat the delicatessen in the comfort of these luxury retailers, wine shoppers can taste fine wine in the comfort of fine wine and spirit retailers. In fact, both Hedonism Wines and L’Écluse, respectively in London and Paris, offer tasting machines for their customers. These Enomatic automatic tasting machines (seen below) allow wine lovers to taste some of the finest wines in the world without having to pay the full amount of the bottle.
During my visit at Hedonism Wines, four people were using these machines and socializing with each other. Historically luxury goods were used to distance people from each other, but Hedonism Wines uses wine tasting to bring people together. Tendency of doing a social closeness instead of a distance socially between people
At L’Écluse the automated wine machines are near the dedicated eating area, encouraging the wine tasting coupled with the tasting of olives or French cheese. The figure below displays the offering at Hedonism Wines in June 2015. You can find the current offering here.
These automated machines make the expensive products (such as the £548.70 bottle of Masseto above) more affordable and encourage networking and socializing instead of creating social distance; which is another metamorphosis of luxury retailing.
How do you choose to treat yourself?
Take a look at the Instagram accounts of: Gieves & Hawkes and La Durée. If you’re reading this, try to convince Hedonism Wines, Fauchon and L’Écluse to have Instagram accounts, they have so many great content for pictures!