Doing trends for a luxury brand at work right now and, consequently, been getting heavily into luxury's place in the digital world. Given the rules luxury brands break, and the barriers they overcome in the fashion world it is surprising how slow they have been to find their place in the new world of online. Naturally, the democratic, free-for-all that is the Internet is the very culture fashion houses abhor. They no doubt fear the dilution of brand and total lack of control.
Unfortunately for luxury, however, this need to "own" the spaces they exist in is outdated. Up-and-coming wealthy people are no different to up-and-coming regular people - they are on Facebook and read their paper online and send emails and expect their brands to be just as instant and available. Add this to the fact that recession-time spending is best done behind closed doors, away from the judgmental poor, and you have a compelling argument for creating an amazing luxury presence online.
Through the research, I'm seeing some (if surprisingly minimal) luxury successes online. DKNY have an in-house PR who tweets on behalf of the brand. Rather than pretending to be Donna herself, the PR is a well placed voice to make announcements about the company. Gucci has gone all out with an extensive and regularly updated Facebook page. The page now boasts over 500,000 friends and includes product and show news, photos and films. Proving that a luxury brand can "let go" and make thousands of new friends around the world. Best in show is Start, the Shoreditch boutique owned by TV personality Brix, who promotes herself and the store across platforms on Twitter, YouTube, blogs and the transactional website.
As high-end brands wake up to the fact they will gain, rather than lose customers, by claiming their www's, I'm excited to see luxury brands shape the future of online in the same way they approach their clothing lines. If Alexander McQueen can reach an audience of 77 million by allowing Lady Gaga to wear his shoes in her latest video, there's got to be something right about signing up.