As recession has been a semi permanent state of affairs, the economy in rollercoaster like flux, the luxury market has been kickstarted into one of a series of up and downs. Where once logos and opulence were the name of the new luxury game, now it seems the recession has also spurred a return to the idea of bespoke luxury, where consumers are looking for something unique and customized.
So much so, some of the most elite and luxury fashion houses, including Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton are turning to customisation to satisfy the demand of top tier clients; taking inspiration from the brand's elegantly understated tagline "when your own initials are enough", Bottega Veneta is giving customers the chance to decorate its distinctive woven leather holdalls and handbags with chunky, Scrabble-esque letters in a range of eight colours.
"It allows us to take the customer-centred philosophy of Bottega Veneta one step further," explains creative director Tomas Maier, whose aesthetic at the label is very much about individuality and personal taste. "The process is fun."
Likewise with Louis Vuitton's new Haute Maroquinerie service, which now operates from a private salon in the London Bond Street store. Customers are involved in every stage of designing their handbags – choosing from five styles (three of which are already iconic among the Vuitton back catalogue) and then deciding on colours, lining and hardware. When you've finished playing with supple and smooth fabric and leather swatches, or picking from the coffret of zips and clasps, the entire package is sent to the house's workshops in Asnieres to be made up by Vuitton's own in-house artisans.
It seems with many designers fighting for smaller consumer sales’ margins, the term ‘bespoke’ is rather loose these days – whether it be services to ensure a better fit, customisation to ensure a unique touch to an accessory, or some elaborate craftmanship to mark out a purchase.
However what all require is a signature, plain accessory to work with, which will end up being a classic, timeless piece rather than anything trend led.
It marks a huge turning point in the industry, where what seems like just a few seasons ago, all consumers were after was the latest It bag as sported by an A-list star on a magazine cover, where now they are seeking personalised pieces which will stand the test of time or even better transcend endless new fashion trends.