As the age of austerity begins to bite, it seems that even in the rare ed world of luxury brands are beginning to take stock. Affluent consumers might not be curbing their spending – you only need to look at the £135 million sale of the penthouse at London’s One Hyde Park as proof – but once frivolous purchases are being replaced by a more considered approach to consumption. Enduring quality, it seems, is king. and it’s this zeitgeist that has left purveyors of luxury goods at pains to stress their production prowess. Never before have companies been so intent on demonstrating the provenance and integrity of their products or their commitment to craftsmanship.
It was Louis Vuitton that kicked things off with its L’Excellence du Savoir Faire fundraising event in 2009, which saw six masters of savoir faire collaborating with Louis Vuitton’s craftsmen to create a ‘special order’ product that was then auctioned in aid of the red Cross. Gucci was quick to follow with its Forever Now campaign, celebrating the company’s 90th anniversary with images of artisans at work in the brand’s historic workshop on Via delle Caldaie in Florence. Fendi, meanwhile, decided to take the route of launching a book – The Whispered Directory of Craftsmanship – to showcase its dedication to the artisanal cause. And, most recently, menswear emporium Alfred Dunhill commissioned four contemporary designers to create art installations for each of its international ‘homes’. Naturally, the theme was modern craftsmanship.