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BALENCIAGA CEO: being a luxury brand is no longer about heritage, craftsmanship creativity
While luxury brands stay out of politics, Balenciaga recently waded into partisan discourse and charitable fashion with runway collections inspired by Bernie Sanders and the World Food Programme. As a panel duringThe New York Times International Luxury Conferenceon Nov. 13 discussed, luxury brands are wading into political and cause-based discourse, which could be a potentially risky move, but up-and-coming generations of consumers are looking at a brands values as much as its craftsmanship or heritage.
There is a new way to be a luxury brand today, said Cdric Charbit, CEO ofBalenciaga. And Im pleased to represent all the brands that feel that being a luxury brand is no longer about heritage, craftsmanship and creativity.
A luxury brand today is about of course the heritage, craftsmanship and creativity, but its also about the values, what we believe in and what we stand for, he said.
Mr. Charbit explained that Balenciagas recent pushes in cause-centric fashion were driven by creative director Demna Gvasalia. Since joining the label, the designer has helped Balenciaga gain hype, which the CEO said comes with a responsibility to promote its values.
While this messaging could be seen as alienating to certain consumers, Mr. Charbit said that the brand is not seeking out controversy. Along with social causes, companies are wading into sustainability, looking to change the status quo.
Sustainability is not only guiding consumers to vote with their wallets. It is also having an impact on what kind of talent companies can attract. Mr. Charbit said that all of Balenciagas job interviews today see applicants asking about the brands sustainability policies.
Values may also impact celebrities and influencers choices for brand partnerships. Steve Hasker, CEO atCreative Artists Agency Global, shared the story of a millennial actress who turned down a multi-million-dollar endorsement deal because the companys board members supported causes that did not align with her values.
Getting into the political can be a dangerous move for a brand. But sometimes brands can get active without treading into risky partisanships. For instance, the CAA ran a campaign about voting, which encouraged political activity without taking sides or telling the audience who to vote for.
While many question whether brands should comment on social or political issues, research shows that for Generation Z, social justice is the way to their hearts.
There is a significant correlation between the desire for luxury goods and political conservatism, according to a new study. Several marketing professors atINSEADpublished a paper called How Consumers Political Ideology and Status-Maintenance Goals Interact to Shape Their Desire for Luxury Goods, looking to establish correlations between political leanings and luxury consumption. The report found that conservatives tended to desire luxury goods more, which the paper attributes to the desire to maintain their socioeconomic status
I think that fashion as a vehicle to bring awareness to political and individual change is absolutely fundamental, Lane Crawfords Mr. Keith said. And the more that fashion brings this power, that individuals can change the world.
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