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New York Times on French luxury

16 January, 2009

There is a nicely anthropological article in today’s NYT about the impact of the recession on the French luxury industry. It says that rescuing or killing the luxury goods industry has become the subject of a public debate; some call for its demise on moral grounds (“return to values”) while others defend it as heritage (in addition to economic reasons). But then the authors conclude that the industry itself is not spending less money than before, and not even necessarily being hit very hard; but it has embraced displays that communicate the “values” of intimacy, community and craftsmanship as opposed to large/scale glamour.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 20 January, 2009 10:59 am

    Very interesting article TTD. I was especially the move towards an emphasis on intimacy, values, “community” and family that the financial crisis has generated. I’ve been thinking about these issues a little and noticed similar notions being expressed in a number of discourses connected with the economic downturn, so I don’t necessarily think that the idea of the crisis encouraging a salutary return to more human values is unique to the French as the article suggests.

    The neoliberal notion that humans are “naturally” greedy individualists seems to be taking a beating, although the luxury industry’s response is interesting in itself. Although there is talk of moving back to values and relationships, to “real wealth” over the “signs of wealth”, as Sarkozy expressed it, it is almost like “humble is the new black”. It is as though a less ostentatious approach to luxury is this year’s fashion, so instead of “signs of wealth” people consume “signs of values”.

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