Born in Madrid, although from the ages of 7 to 18 he attended school in England. After getting his degree on European Business from the University of Portsmouth, he decided to go after his dream of traveling around the world by himself. After his great adventure, he began working as a press and magazine agent for the Vocento Group, and later he worked at the Twelve Stars Branding agency as a brand consultant. In 2009, Jose decided to turn his life around and began a long trip to Argentina, which inspired him to create the fashion accessory brand La Portegna. This month, he tells us how the internet has opened the doors to the “affordable luxury” concept.
By José Urrutia
I’m getting married and must buy a suit. I could buy a tailormade English one for more than 1000 pounds or something cheaper in Massimo Dutti for 200 euros, or I could even get one from an online clothing specialist, Suitsupply, where a cashmere suit costs 370 euros. Aside from the price, it’s getting more and more difficult to distinguish between what’s good and what’s best. It seems that, in a world with an abundance of supply, a new category has risen: affordable luxury, or accessible luxury. We don’t know if this is a marketing-focused trend, or simply the concept of “something cheap, yet good”.
I have the feeling that twenty years ago the market was something divided into two segments: you could either buy something cheap and bad, or expensive and good. There was the Seat and the Mercedes-Benz. The latter was unattainable, the doors were shut hermetically and the poor Seat was cheap, easily breakable and the door would make a clang noise when it was shut. But since Volkswagen bought Seat, their cars work perfectly, they won’t break, can reach 200 km per hour and even have German protection!
In a nutshell, there is no longer a gap between these two. In today’s globalized world of constant supply, there are no longer “bad” things, just a “good” or “great” experience.
In my opinion, this has happened for two reasons: Internet, and China. The Internet is the greatest showcase 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 the other. Then there’s China. This colossus has allowed product manufacturing to lower its costs. All cheap and innovative workshops are in China. Thus, brands like Uniqlo present excellent clothes at a reasonable price. The mixture of innovation and production with the Internet has increased world supply of new products and more than innovative services.
What does this mean for consumers? First of all, cheap will remain cheap, and it will also get better. Companies like Zara, Airbnb and Uber will have better quality and services. 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? To me, luxury is timeless, and it will accompany you forever. Ferrari or the Ritz Hotel in Paris are not just brands that involve a quality, unforgettable experience, but cultural icons that are part of the history of world luxury. Luxury can’t just be a reference of excellency, but must leave a 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. Because this way we can have brands of extraordinary quality at our disposal, and for a competitive price; and this is what I call having a better life.