How luxury brands can help preserve artisanal skills for a sustainable future

As a society that represents students interested in the Luxury Industry, we were asked a fundamental question – what does Luxury mean? Many answers came up like quality, heritage, exclusiveness. But underlying all of this was one primary thing that is the hallmark of all luxury – the ‘savoir faire’ or craftmanship.

What makes craftmanship so special? Craftmanship is artisan using age old skills to put out his/her story into the designs. And it is these stories that consumers value when making their luxury purchase. A study published in Journal of Marketing in 2015 found that consumers were willing to pay 17% more for a handcrafted item. They perceive it as “handmade with love”.

These artisanal activities are the essence of sustainability, quality and exclusivity. However, there is a worrying decline of crafts. The Heritage Craft Association in UK published a ‘Red List’ of more than 200 endangered handicraft that included clockmaking, gold-beating, marbelling etc. The reason is rise of industrialization and fast fashion. Artisanal activities require time ranging from months to years. The question arises, how can they survive?

The luxury industry can play a vital role in reviving back the crafts of the past. In the world of fast fashion, pressure for speed and high profits through cost cutting only the luxury industry can demand the right price for staying slow. The artisanal products need some backing up from the world of luxury to remain relevant in the present. Afterall, artisanal crafts maybe slow but are definitely worth the wait.

The best way to support them would be by honoring the techniques and incorporating them into the savior-faire. Employing native communities, paying them fairly for their skills and communicating their story to conscious clients can go a long way in preserving the dying art. With proper marketing and communication, the ‘making of craft’ can be glorified again. Thus, connecting the past to the sustainable future.

By Shibika Mitra

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