AltLuxe

Posts from the “Living Well” Category

End of empire stuff

Posted on August 2, 2015

Despite the fact that the world is full of strife on one end and bad taste on the other,  I’m not one to let these things get me too terribly down. But there was one thing that really got me depressed and truth be told, disgusted. Entitled “Instagram: Retail’s Holy Grail” (behind the FT paywall) the piece reported that  “millennial females’ anxieties about appearing too many times in the same outfit in their internet photographs is driving fundamental changes in the way they shop.” Selfie culture is driving Millennialistas to buy cheaper, more often. Says Jamie Merman, an analyst for Sanford Bernstein, “Faster is absolutely better because part of the selfie phenomenon is that women want changing trends, and current trends, quicker.” So wrong. Vile, in fact. They sell or…

Don’t settle. When ethics are not enough.

Posted on July 9, 2015

Don’t get me wrong. I do love bunnies. I do love artisans. I do love the earth. I do love people (for the most part). But the Ethical Marketing Machine? Not so much. I used to be a big fan. I used to believe that by consuming sustainable/ethically sourced products, we could change the earth. After a good 40 years of this (it all started, slowly, in the ’60s) there may be some evidence that it’s moved the needle slightly, more in food than in any other category; maybe in packaging; and possibly – slowly – in clothing, though I’m not so sure that 10 years out from Rana Plaza there won’t be another sweatshop fire in Myanmar or Mongolia or East LA, or wherever cheap production has…

In praise of fragility

Posted on June 22, 2015

Over the last few years, the aesthetic zeitgeist has favored the sturdy and utilitarian over the fragile and fussy. You know what I mean: all those waxed cotton bags (love mine from Barbour); the embrace of the distressed-but-still-noble-industrial style; the rise of “normcore”; the resurgence of heritage brands such as Carharrt, which specialize in durable workwear; the ongoing fetishization of selvedge denim; even the interest in Japanese mingei style and ethos. Quality seems to be synonymous with “lasts forever” and ruggedness – or to paraphrase an old Timex ad campaign, to “take a licking and keep on ticking”. It’s an extension of our notion that to be modern is to embrace simple, streamlined design; that what is good is that which is pared down to the essentials. It’s also a backlash…

Telling stories

Posted on June 9, 2015

Over the last few years, the collective wisdom of marketers and pretty much everyone else focuses on storytelling. Want to sell something, the wisdom goes: you gotta tell its story. Story is part of humanity: we are hard-wired to want to take in things this way. In the context of marketing, it connects me – the consumer – emotionally to whatever is being sold. And that kind of connection, we all know, is the way to a sale. In recent years, storytelling has become an alternative to the brand. Don’t have the money to build a brand? Oh never mind, just have a good story. A good enough story and you’ll triumph over the big boy brands. And with that storytelling became marketing, the new packaging, a form of advertising. And I,…

Modern patronage

Posted on May 23, 2015

A word popped up in my consciousness as I was reading a review of the recent exhibit called What is Luxury? at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Patronage. It’s a word I hadn’t heard in a long while. Hopelessly old fashioned, it smacks of elitism, class, and (in political circles) cronyism, “favors” and general corruption. And the “p” word was even applied to the “relationship” between dancers and their “patrons”.) In the realm of art and culture, it conjures up images of that rich cigar-puffer, badgered into (often by a wife) agreeing to fund the work of some obscure, flat-out-broke artist / watchmaker / musician, in return for which they got bragging rights if the artist’s star rose, and first pick of the output whatever happened. Fast forward to places like New York today,…

Shhh.

Posted on February 23, 2015

Secrets. They’re not supposed to exist, are they? We’re supposed to tell it all, share it all, let it all hang out, preferably online. Mental health types talk about the corrosive effects of secrets.  We barely tolerate the notion that some state secrets should remain that way.  And TMZ’s created a $100 million empire on spilling celebrity secrets that readers lap up then lean back to savor, purse their lips, feeling smug that no secret should be safe from the public. As goes the broader culture goes the material, consuming world. “Authenticism” is the thing where every live edge table or industrial makes clear its material roots. Function is form and form is function (and nothing else.) Radical transparency is the by-word of companies like Everlane. And we’ve come to…

The art and the craft of service, part two

Posted on February 16, 2015

It happens like this doesn’t it? Just when you’re decrying the lack of something – in my case, the lack of good service in the world these days – you find it. I am delighted to have been made wrong. Best yet, while I experienced a new high in service at what is an unabashedly luxury establishment, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to find that kind of service at price points way south of what most people consider “luxury”. Because, of course, luxury isn’t about price. It’s about mindset. The Amangani in Jackson Hole, WY was the venue for a rare blow-out holiday. First spied in a design or travel magazine ages ago. the image of this austere-looking retreat in the snow had lingered with me for years, the very epitome…