Discreet Luxury: A segment to watch


The signature red sole of an $800 Christian Louboutin pump. The trademark intrecciato weave of a $4000 Bottega Veneta bag. The colourful inner lining of a $2500 Paul Smith suit. These are the markers of a movement being described by industry watchers as Discreet Luxury.

Tired of the logo-fixations of the 1990′s and early 2000′s, certain luxury customers, who don’t feel like shouting about their wealth to the world, are shunning logos for clothes and accessories that are unmarked — except for one usually understated detail that announces the item’s provenance and brand to those in the know.

BottegaMany of these consumers are in advanced luxury markets like Japan and Western Europe, and have exacting standards for quality, craftsmanship and authenticity. Therefore, also included in this growing segment are clothes about which stories can be told by the wearer — stories about why the garment is special, rare and authentic. This is apparently driving a boom in men’s luxury purchases in particular as it seems men like to tell stories to their buddies about the provenance of their threads.

Earlier this year, Vanity Fair commissioned some market research on the discreet luxury customer, sometimes known as the "cultivated consumer," and found that they have:

disposable income and eclectic interests, a thirst for exclusive knowledge and preference for an authentic experience, social responsibility and the need to surround themselves with a network of experts.

If Bottega Veneta’s financial performance is anything to go by, then this certainly is a segment to watch. Lisa Rachal, Luxury Goods analyst for Redburn Partners, said earlier this year that Bottega Veneta is the "Venetian Jewel" in Gucci Group’s crown, and will become the next 1 billion euro brand within five years.

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  1. Discreet Luxury must be such a beautiful secret to keep!

    Anjli from Niagara Falls, ON, Canada
  2. This is an inevitable consequence of Cruise and Pre-Collections taking presidence over traditional F/W and S/S collections. The latter are shown on the runway, up on the internet in minutes and copied within weeks by high-street stores. And that’s not to mention celebs on the red carpet. Pre-collections are less about show and more about exclusivity, produced in smaller quantities, often special-edition pieces, and available only to industry insiders and the key retail customers.

    Hatty Stevens from Stourport, Worcestershire, United Kingdom