Lessons from Paris

Pictured in garden of The Mandarin

I spent the holidays in Paris. It was the most luxe vacation this social entrepreneur has ever taken, in part to get a better feel for the luxury establishment. France is the birthplace of so many of the world’s greatest luxury brands, from Cartier to Lagerfeld, Chanel to Vuitton. Why is it that French brands seem to dominate? And what can our young American company learn from the pioneers of the luxury industry?

I used to think luxury was (pardon my language!) bull****. I thought luxury was about logos. Bling. Kimye. It seemed to me that so many of the brands we hold in high esteem mass-produce their items in large factories, slap a logo on them, and peddle them to the emerging wealthy class as status symbols.

At LXMI we wanted none of that. We decided to form a new brand dedicated to a deeper, more positive luxury oriented around social good and ingredients that are better for our consumers and for the world.

But my research helped me realize that while mass-production is certainly true of some brands, especially those in the new “Masstige” category (mass-produced offshoots of a designer’s main line, often produced in a very different setting than true luxury items), it’s not true of many of the great luxury brands, still produced artisinally. We still have much to learn from them.

Goyard and Bottega Venetta craft each of their bags by hand, and guarantee every aspect of their product’s quality. A saleswoman at Bottega, where I went to learn about different fabrication techniques, told me that the mark’s signature woven leather bag is durable enough to be used to transport several heavy laptops at a time without showing signs of wear (a feat that would kill most handbags).

So what imbues a product with luxury? What makes it special enough to warrant paying more for? I distilled my answer into four Ps: Provenance, Properties, Presentation, and the Public. Luxury products need to differentiate across each of the four Ps to create more value from customers and warrant a higher price.

Provenance - How did the brand begin? What is the unique origin story? What original materials and brand signatures tell the provenance story physically on the products sold today? These are the tiny little details that speak to the brand’s history. Think grommets for Louis Vuitton, or the classic waxed canvas material used to make Goyard bags, inspired by the lines’ origins in travel trunks.

Properties - What materials and expert craftsmanship and design go into the brand’s products? Are the products beautiful and durable? Do they stand the test of time? Here, I think of the difference between Hermes perfumes, made in France with incredible, responsibly sourced ingredients, and Kim Kardashian’s perfume line.

Presentation - How and where is the product displayed and sold? Are salespeople passionate and knowledgeable about the brand, and do they embody the brand’s values? Does the retail experience accurately reflect the care, quality, and aesthetics that went into making the product? When you make a purchase, does the packaging and storytelling reinforce the product?

Public - Who loves the brand, talks about it, wears and shares it? In the age of social media, each person who loves a brand is an ambassador — he or she embodies a brand’s values and identity just as much as the people who make and sell its products.
We strive to create a beautiful, remarkable experience across each of the four P's at LXMI. We are soon launching a new version of our packaging and formulations — you’ll be the first to know when we’re ready to share these with the world. In the meantime, you can learn how we work or contact us if you have ideas. And we always welcome you to try our products and tell us what we can improve!



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