Jose Urrutia the brand founder of la Portegna will explain this month, how the internet has opened the doors to the “affordable luxury” concept.
I’m about to get married and I must buy a suit. I could opt for a beautiful tailormade English suit for more than 1000 pounds or something supercheap like Massimo Dutti for 200 euros, or even better yet, purchase from the online clothing specialist, Suitsupply, a cashmere suit for 370 euros. Aside from the price, it is becoming more difficult to distinguish between what’s good and what is truly amazing. It seems that, in an abundant world of supply, a new category has risen: affordable luxury, or accessible luxury. We don’t know if this is a new marketing gimmick, or simply the concept of saying “something cheap, yet good”.
I have the feeling twenty years ago the market was divided into two segments: you could either buy something cheap and bad, or expensive and good. It was Seat vs Mercedes-Benz. The latter was unattainable, the solid heavy doors would
bolt hermetically whereas the poor Seat was cheap, would breakdown frequently and the doors were flimsy with a “clang” noise when shut. But since Volkswagen acquired Seat, the models do not breakdown, they are capable of 200
km per hour plus all built in with German safety standards!. There is now no longer a huge gap between Mercedes and Seat. In today’s globalized world of constant supply, “bad” products no longer exist, only
“good” or “great” products exist.
In today’s globalized world of constant supply, “bad” products no longer exist, only “good” or “great” products exist."
In my opinion, this has happened due to two reasons: Internet, and China. The Internet is the greatest showroom of prices and movement of goods and information on a global scale. Uber, Cabify, Emov or car2go have disintegrated the perception of high-cost urban transport; with five clicks I can know the exact cost of going from one place to another. Then you have China, the almighty colossus has flattened production costs. All cheap and innovative workshops are in China. Thus, brands like Uniqlo are capable of presenting excellent clothes with amazing prices. The mixture of innovation and production with Internet has massively increased the world supply of innovative new products and services.
What does this mean for consumers? First of all, cheap will remain cheap, and it will improve.. Companies like Zara, Airbnb and Uber will constantly deliver better quality and service.. This is why the difference between luxury and quality
is dissipating and turning into a subtle form of affordable luxury. So, how do we differentiate between real luxury and affordable luxury? I believe, luxury is a timeless, experience that will accompany you for life. Ferrari or the
Ritz Hotel in Paris are not just brands that involve an unforgettable quality experience, but cultural icons that are part of the history of world luxury. Luxury cannot just become a reference of excellency, but must deliver a sense
of generational legacy.
"Luxury cannot become a reference of excellency, but must deliver a sense of generational legacy."
The Internet allows us to access a broader spectrum of experiences at a better price. We are no longer at the mercy of “luxury” brands. This is why I am in favor of the rise of affordable luxury. We can now access brands of extraordinary quality at competitive prices. This means a better life.
By José Urrutia