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Winchester Luxury Research Group


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Link to video of Christopher P. Berry's talk

Professor Christopher J. Berry, University of Glasgow
Luxury: A Dialectic of Desire?

Utilising as a framework Hegel’s tri-partite concept of dialectic thought, the chapter comprises 3 Parts.

I: Moralisation ie 'luxury' as a component of moralised normative vocabulary characteristic of 'classical' thought according to which 'poverty' is a good and the desire for bodily satisfactions manifest in luxury is bad so control of consumption is warranted. Moreover, commerce which serves those satisfactions is at best a lowly instrumental activity and at worst morally suspect.

II: Demoralisation ie the rejection of that evaluative context whereby now desires (including those for luxuries) are seen as effective motives and poverty (now meaning being impoverished) is bad, while control of consumption when not counterproductive is an unwarranted intrusion. Commercial societies that produce and consume luxuries are better than pre-commercial ones, as exemplified in David Hume's essays 'Of Refinement of Arts' and ‘Of Commerce (1752).

III: Remoralisation? ie examination of contemporary critiques of consumption in general, luxury in particular. Three are non-exclusively identified [a] Ethical - owning/desiring more creates unhappiness rather than happiness and the pursuit of luxuries is a hedonic treadmill undermining self-discipline, exacerbated by the growth of e-commerce [b] Social – the evanescent instability of luxury and its embodiment of a privatised and increasingly ‘virtual’ life-style erodes social capital and crowds out public space [c] Ecological/Green – current lifestyles where possession of luxuries is a mark of success wastefully deplete limited resources especially when a simpler more harmonious life of fewer desires is possible.

But is there any relevantly sustainable ground in terms of which luxury can be remoralised and the legitimacy of desires assessed? Are any supposed solutions practically tenable? 


Link to video of Ian M. Taplin's talk

Professor Ian M. Taplin
Pilgrims on the Road to Luxury:
Consolidation and segmentation in the luxury goods industry

The luxury goods industry has undergone considerable changes in the past decade. In one of its most robust markets, Japan, sales of imported goods have declined ten percent over the past year. That same market, the first to become a really ‘mass luxury market' in the 1980s and 1990s, has been somewhat transformed as middle class consumers are more confident mixing and matching cheap and expensive goods. In other markets, similarly making luxury goods accessible to a mass-market consumer has conceivable eroded the status and value of luxury products rather than provide an entry point into that market for middle class consumers. The subsequent ‘cheapening of the brand' has occurred at the same time the recession somewhat eroded wealthy consumers' confidence, and yet sales have slumped mainly for affordable luxury products. What has been the effect of these recent changes on the strategy of luxury goods companies? This paper analyses this subject, focusing upon what actions such firms are taking to counter the decline of sales and how they are rethinking their expansion moves in emerging markets such as China. It also provides comments on how the wealthy are responding now that luxury has gone mass market; what ways they are finding to flaunt their wealth.

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