For some of us, the last 9 months have been times of tremendous upheaval and sacrifice. There have been hundreds of thousands of lives lost, millions of jobs lost. But some parts of the business world continue their progress as if nothing has changed. Some (ahem, Amazon) have actually pulled forward, taking advantage of their lead in technology and delivery to become even more useful to their customers.

I’ve personally experienced some of both. But things are basically unchanged in the world of luxury. The people who can afford to shop luxury products and brands, I mean really afford it, have experienced little change to their lives. It must be odd, I imagine. They could act as if nothing has changed, except – it would be in incredibly poor taste for those who care about such things. In an America where we’ve become ok with ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it’ capitalism, it must be very strange to have it and not be sure if you’re supposed to flaunt it.

In the short run, I doubt it hurts the luxury brands that best serve the wealthiest consumers. But in the long run, the Givenchy’s and others who have dined on being made visible by high profile customers and influencers have had to move down market, hosting (pretty terrible) shows and shoots on social media, using people in their own, non-glamourous, environments.

It raises all kinds of questions? Is it still worth it if no one can see it? Who on earth dresses this way alone in there sad apartments? And perhaps the biggest question: What does liking a post featuring Kim K posing at home in a Givenchy outfit while a quarter million Americans have died and millions more are desperate for work?

I spoke with Global Luxury Practice Lead at McCann World Group and Global Director of McCann Truth Central, Nadia Tuma-Weldon. She’s spent years researching and understanding luxury consumers and brands. Nadia has a fantastic perspective on why we choose what we choose, and how aspiration for luxury serves as the ultimate distillation of aspiration that many brands can learn from. We discussed some of what’s changed and some of what is the same.

Listen here:

Transcript for the pleasure of your eyeballs:

17:22:50 Adam Pierno: Welcome back to another episode of The Strategy Inside Everything we have a very special episode for you today you’re going to really enjoy this. I have Nadia Tuma-Weldon on, and we are going to be looking at luxury, and she’s the perfect person to do it because Nadia currently serves as the Global Luxury Practice lead at McCann World group, and the Global Director of McCann Truth Central so she serves two roles, there’s two jobs, it sounds like a lot. Nadia How are you today.
17:24:21 Nadia Tuma-Weldon I’m great Adam thanks so much for having me. Thank you for making time to be here. I appreciate it and I just made a joke about you having two jobs, how, tell me a little bit about the both of those and tell me how you’re able to manage them. Yeah, so I do have two jobs and I’ve been, I’ve been with mechanical group for seven years this month, actually, and I’ve sort of always kept about two rules, as I’ve been there but we’ll start with my day job, which is the global director one of the global directors of McCann world group Truth Central quite a mouthful but Truth Central is essentially world groups, global cultural intelligence unit. So we are a small but mighty global team and our mission is to create original research about culture. So we have been in existence for 10 years now, and since then we’ve been running these big meaty global studies from both the quantitative and qualitative standpoint that studies the macro cultural forces that shape how people behave and make decisions, and I think ultimately create relationships with, with the brands that they buy, and I didn’t have time I mean just amassed millions of data points. You know our studies tend to be in over 25 countries, again, both calling me and
Adam: Awesome scale.
17:25:51 Nadia: Big scale. The data is proprietary, so it’s not publicly available it’s not seed. It’s really about using it sort of harnessing the research to help our clients businesses grow so the reason, you know, the topics that we cover in the study are pretty broad so we call them church studies, there’s a theme. So all of this comes from McCann sort of original motto which is truth well told. And so the truth and the idea is that any insight, any campaign, any great creative idea it all starts from a really compelling truth. You know what is this thing that we can understand what’s happening in the world so that’s where we come in. We are constantly studying culture studying human truths. And so our two studies ranged from everything from the truth about wellness, sustainability, affluence, beauty, shopping, youth, globalization I mean all of these big, big meaty topics because you know the view that we take is, you know, let’s say you work on like an auto brand. You know, for better for worse, and it’s no fault of anyone working on it, you sort of talk about human beings as if they live in a world of automobiles like we can’t help
Adam: You can’t help contextualize everything to that vertical so that space.
17:27:12 Nadia: Totally so they’re like, no, no one sort of I mean as much as we like to think nobody is waking up saying, “No, I wonder what Toyota’s up to today, how’s my house, my finances, what’s happening under the news and the politics”

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Adam: We are not thinking about brand pillars, that’s for sure.
Nadia: you’re not thinking about wearing the purchase funnel. You know, which, you know, millennial vector is, you know, making your heart. Right, so I think we try to really challenge a lot of those marketing tropes I mean even things like regions, which are like completely random like, how is MENA a region.
17:27:52 Adam: Are you are you empowered to break down those those questions are going to uncover the truth behind the truth, or are you trying to I’ve seen agencies and research orgs that sort of have an editorial position and all their resource, or all the research they do seems to reinforce it. Are you guys free to your findings are your findings and truth is truth.
Nadia: That’s exactly right yeah so we we we work with. Basically every geography and every type of client. But we are not tied to any of that. So our work literally is the truth, it is what the data says you know obviously we interpret it as sort of cultural anthropologists, I guess you could you could sort of pull our group. But yeah, I mean we take everything and challenge it we take age demographics and challenge that we take marketing regions and challenge them and, you know, I’ll get, I’ll get to that in just just a moment, sort of how we do that. But I think it’s, it’s, you know, I’m happy at the end of the day if I can come in with the findings from our research which is deeply human like team human, that is our team will replay. And if I can come in and show the world in a way that can change your clients view of the world by like three degrees that success because a lot of our big clients like they see a ton of research and most of it is from traditional market research or sort of research from agencies that are very smart but don’t have that proprietary data they’re kind of doing Forrester or the Mintel, and we like smart people in a room which is incredibly important but to live it really – sorry?
17:29:28 Adam: It’s a lit review it’s not propriety, not organically discovered truth. Exactly.
Nadia: Yeah, and I think become each topic, saying, Listen, I am not the only person studying age, I’m not the only person of studying wellness by any stretch of the imagination. What can I say about this topic that is true, but different like but is fresh and interesting and makes people like kind of sit up and look at the world a little bit differently. So, so that’s what I was brought in to do, and I think the global nature of it is also another thing that sets us up so we have, we have contacts in basically every country where mechanics, which is I think most countries.
Adam: Yeah.
17:30:10 Nadia: And are those people help us contextualize the research, run the qualitative that we do which we tend to make really fun like to try to, you know, we like go into people’s houses in 100 countries and look at their bathroom cabinets for the truth about wellness you know we we hold big dinner parties with wealthy people for the truth about affluence you know in their homes on their own turf. So we try to make the data sort of meet with these like really human stories, and the people in all of these countries really help us or we’ll get like a weird data point but like why is Brazil so odd in this, for this question. And we’ll call up that person and they can help us make sense of it so that global connectivity is really important. So, so I came into McCann I was, I was starting to leave these studies, and I think about two years in I was leading a big piece of research called the Truth About Globalization, was a co-authored it with, with the woman who founded control, and as a result of that we sort of took that study on the road like we do these these launch events that are really immersive and interesting and we are
Adam: Trying to bring it to life

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Nadia: Try to bring it to life try to localize it so you have a launch in Paris. For an interpretation of cultural interpretation. Right, so there’s always going to be the universal human truths and things are just everywhere and bind humanity together and then it’s really about well, how is this experts in the Philippines. And how is this expressed in South Africa and what does this look like in India, and you start to get, like, essentially, 30 versions of that one study because you’re able to localize it so effectively as clue.
17:31:50 Adam: That’s cool.
Nadia: So, yeah, it was really it’s really cool it’s great, interesting job that keeps me interested because you have to be thinking about the world, all the time
Adam: You’re gonna have to share some of those studies with me I know they’re not for sale but I mean you can come on, I can,
17:32:08 Nadia: I can show some some numbers,
Adam: There’s no video with this podcast but listeners, you should know that her face indicated there is no way on earth I’m getting access. She gave me a look I was like why are you talking about. Come on. Now I thought for sure right price. Okay.
17:32:25 Nadia: Yeah, so I for this one piece of research, specifically, I started to head out, get on the road and I was spending actually spending quite a bit of time. I’m going to launch these studies in Asia, which I had never been to before but was totally obsessed with, sort of, you know, in the ideal of my of my Western mind. And they started to do that I started to work with the teams and it was really good and we were getting along and the studies are looking really great and. And so there was this sort of conversation around, what would you want to come live here, and maybe help, you know, I think a two way street. One was to help bring the Truth Central sort of way of thinking to, to the offices and that the people in our Asia locations but also I think from a, you know, our headquarters is New York City, right and another global harvest is London and so it’s very Western.
17:33:26 You know we talked about Asia, I mean even just saying, Asia, is, is like laughable right and you you, it’s so diverse and so rich. So even having my like being a sponge, essentially, by living there and being able to speak, you know with relatively fluency on like well this is why Indonesia is different from Malaysia and you could never call them a region, which is Southeast Asia right so I obviously was not going to be able to do that job, New York City, so I went and I lived in Asia for two years and
Adam: You’re committed to just overdoing it no matter what.
17:34:02 Nadia: Totally. So that was an incredible experience and super transformative personally and professionally. It was, it was amazing basically running around the region. Just having like a crash course, –
Adam: It sounds incredible
Nadia: – fluency. When, when asked what my next second job would be, I came up with this idea of creating this global luxury practice, and the global luxury practice is essentially this this body is this network of experts that I created that come from all over the world we have people from Tokyo, all the way down to San Francisco, this entire time zones. And what we do as a practice. Our goal is to redefine, and recast what the culture of luxury means for a modern era. And so we know that luxury has a lot of baggage as a term, but we know that in the past 10 years, it has completely changed. But in the last 10 months, it’s sort of accelerated beyond recognition right and and the idea that luxury is exclusionary, and high priced and white head Western and all these things is just something of the past, and we really want to understand what is a modern new view of luxury that is aware and inclusive and expansive and looks different and feels different for this new generation that’s coming up. And so that’s what our mission is and that’s what we we sort of workplace.
17:35:28 Adam: And how are the, the Truth Central work overlap there must be a lot of overlap in the, in the research but I’m assuming the Truth Central work is not specific to luxury per se, unless that’s where the, where the topic takes you or where the research takes you.
17:35:43 Nadia: Yeah, there is there is overlap, I think, you know, we have affluence work that we do. I’ve done quite a bit of qualitative research on paradoxically, on a shoestring to get luxury insights to, you know, through, you know, talking to different people are kind of hacking my way into figuring out how to, how to get to speak with wealthy individuals etc, or people who are just doing interesting things in the space. But I think the biggest thing is that we take, I take a Truth Central approach to luxury. So everything is sort of said about how we think about culture in the world we sort of take that mindset and really exploded and luxury to get to new ways of looking at it that that can keep pace and almost you know be ahead of culture, ideal.
Adam: How did you get there? How did you bring start making that connection, versus be because I. A lot of people are attracted to the artifacts of luxury but not the, the drivers of it I guess or the insights behind it what what drove you what pulled you to that, do you think?
Nadia: Yeah, that’s a very interesting question. Um, well I think it, it might go back a little bit to, to my upbringing, you know, to some extent, I have my parents are immigrants and from Lebanon, you know there’s a very specific sort of culture that comes with that. I grew up in America but I sort of split my growing up time between America and France so I spent a lot of time there. And I think there’s very specific culture that comes with with French culture.
17:37:22 And I think there’s also this part of me that has always been obsessed with understanding human behavior. So, this idea of when I was in university studying something called decision science, which was all about understanding how people make decisions, and why people make decisions and usually those decisions have nothing to do with rationality. They have everything to do with emotion.
17:37:46 Adam: And we have no idea why we do what we do.
17:37:48 Nadia: Exactly. And even if we’re told, like, ‘Oh, you bought this thing because you were depressed or you felt empty or you had a great day,’ people were like, come on.
17:37:59 Adam: No, I want it because there’s about it because it’s 12.9 fluid ounces. That’s why, What a deal.
17:38:05 Nadia: No, I moved from awareness to consideration in the purchase funnel. So, you know, I think, you know, this whole so so basically this was something that I always thought about and then when I, at some point in my career I worked in in consulting brand consulting and I wasn’t I wasn’t very happy doing that job it wasn’t very fulfilled. Energy into that piece of work which is about 10 years ago, so it took me almost 10 years to get to get the job but. So I think that just was started to sort of was part of this lifelong curiosity about human behavior and I think if you think about luxury almost is this sort of like really condensed set of this like condensed expression of aspiration right it’s like aspiration just bundled into one concentrated space, and if you can almost understand the culture of luxury you can understand all aspiration, because it’s sort of the finery lunch sharp kind of articulation.
17:23:38 Adam: I wanted to talk to you about. so I’ve had futurists on. Over the past few months, I’ve had people talk about luxury, but I noticed that you have done some work looking at where luxury might be headed. And in this weird weirdness that we’re all in. I wanted to hear your thoughts on where, where you see luxury potentially going. And then we can kind of work backwards towards root causes that like what what we’re all experiencing that might be driving some of those things.
Nadia: Yeah. There’s so much to start to unpick
Adam: I know, this could be an 18 hour conversation.
Nadia: Yeah, I mean, I think you also need to start even with the fundamental of. How do you, how does one define luxury, you know what does luxury mean to someone? Where in the world do you live? What are the you know the experiences around you? I think the one thing that I go back to quite often. And we can just start somewhere and kind of go from there. There’s so much that we could start to unpick when it when it comes to this topic but I had read somewhere once that 90% of all human behavior can be attributed to signaling. And, you know, signaling is of course, some kind of external signal to a stranger to someone you know or whatever that says something about who you are. And when I started to think about luxury, even just right after the lockdown and starting to happen here in New York. You know, very quickly, you, you saw a pretty drastic elimination of the sort of classic influencer model, right where, here’s my second home here’s my. Here’s my car, here’s my whatever. I think some influencers were slightly tone deaf and some celebrities as well i think that it’s been well reported about how some celebrities were complaining about being stuck at home in their mansions yeah like that right. And so they were very quickly vilified those those who try did that. But I think most of most people like this new pretty quickly that it was going to be in poor taste to do any kind of privilege showing things off as, particularly in New York people were were dying, you know, and then following that there was just there still is a lot of economic hardship. But what I did notice was on a more sort of quotidian level like people just sort of normally people that signaling still existed is still going on. And, you know, so you would see things like people posting photos—thank goodness they don’t do this anymore—posting photos of like Zoom Happy Hour, you know, on Instagram to show listen I’m still in demand I’m still a person that is social and connected and popular.
Adam: You know, I remember that phase of the first month of people doing things like that and I mean now it’s like Zoom Happy Hour please don’t invite me to that. But then, that first month it was like okay yes my social life my social status still remains even despite all that’s happening.
Nadia: Right. And what other reason to post a photo of a screen on another screen, then, to show the signal that you’re still you know thriving. So, you know, I think. Unfortunately, fortunately or unfortunately part of human behavior is to to signal and to show certain things. Now what I, and I think that’s a universal human truth that doesn’t change it’s been around I was, I was just sort of writing a little piece about how I went to the Met Museum and there was this whole that was all about ancient Rome, and there was this whole section about like, luxury in ancient Rome, and you read it and it read as if it could have been written last year, you know just about the way people wanted to adorn themselves or the way that they thought about importing goods or the way that you know they there was exploitation of people you know all of these certain things that I think are just, they’re just universal they’ve always been they always will be. Now what I find most interesting is the nuance. So how does it change right so if signaling if showing certain things about status
Adam: If those things are constant…
Nadia: They’re constant they’re there, they’re a drumbeat. How is that how is that activated? how do we understand that better? So, you know, my group that studies luxury we’re a global group. And I think when you start to dig into the different cultural context it starts to get really interesting and really powerful because I think ultimately when you think about human behavior, you are a product of your context. Even in New York. So I sort of positive this theory that you know it’s going to be really bad taste to walk around with a brand new expensive luxury handbag, or to drive around in a brand new luxury car, and I think for the most part, that’s true. But then on said Met Museum visit my husband and I were on the Upper East Side and we went out to lunch afterwards and people walking around, were like, totally.You know, adorned and all the logos and all these things because it’s a safe space there for people to be doing that right so i think i think it really depends on on your context, I think, again, as I mentioned, our, our team is quite global so we have a few experts in luxury who live in China, and in China, there is a tremendous amount of trust in the government. The government has, you know, essentially made the COVID pandemic kind of like a bad memory that happened over the summer, and people have moved on. It is the bright spot and luxury because of that you know people feel a sense of optimism they feel a sense of trust. There’s huge lines at the Loui Vuitton store in Shanghai, you know that’s that’s back to that.
Adam: That’s interesting.

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Nadia: Yeah, so, so you’re going to have those sorts of different differing pieces around that. Now, what I would say has been really heartening, I think, and it’s not something that is new, but I think has been accelerated by the pandemic has been this real need for luxury brands to, to be responsible to be inclusive to be aware, to be expansive. You know, there’s this great quote I heard at a conference in January, which seems like about 10 years ago. Yeah, it was from the CEO of Tiffany’s, this was right before the sale to LVMH was announced. Before recently it was unannounced. But he said you know ‘People are are now coming to luxury with questions. Yes, it’s a beautiful on the outside but it’s a beautiful on the inside?’ And I think this whole projection around, you know millennials and Gen Z by 2013 2014 you’re going to be the biggest proportion of luxury consumers in the world. They have those expectations, and they want to see themselves reflected in campaigns. They want to see brands acting in ways that are meaningful and not sort of old exclusionary precious rare refine,
17:31:06 Adam: But this is interesting because when you asked earlier. ‘What is luxury?’ As you’re describing luxury brands being more inclusive and more expansive and covering more ground. What I start to hear is that if there, including more people than they’re less precious. So how do you how do you reconcile both of those things if it if they are. I mean, certainly, you’re not going to see those brands come to the McDonald’s territory but how do you how what triggered something.
17:31:35 Nadia: Well I think that’s a really interesting provocation. So, we do this, this thing with my group, it’s, it’s an initiative I started about six years ago called the Tastemakers’ Council and the Tastemakers’ Council is a gathering of a variety of innovators and thought leaders in the luxury space and we bring them together for a big experiential dinner, where we talk about co creating the future of luxury, and we talk about the forces that we think are defining luxury announcements in the future. And the last of these that we held was in November of course right before everything changed. But one of the big themes that came out of that conversation was like can we ever define luxury Is there a way to ever put like a definitive. ‘This is what luxury is and this is what it means.’ And I think to our earlier point about these enduring truth but understanding how they shift and shape over time. The theme that came out was that luxury is this powerful combination of love and skill and love and skill, those two together is what makes what makes luxury so whether it’s the love for a craft, you know craft skill, and I’m sorry, a love for for craft and a skill for people, or it’s a love for solving a problem, and a skill for for creating a product, or it’s a love or joy and it’s you know so you start to kind of understand these ways of mixing and matching. And I think, then you can understand. Okay, well, if I’m a brand, and I’m a luxury brand and I think about what love really means in my context, you know, in the context of what I do. And I have this skill. So, when you think about, for instance, direct to consumer brands and many of these brands, sort of help themselves as modern luxury brands. A lot of them like they might have to love like really high, but maybe the skills a bit lower like the product isn’t as wonderful or the skill is really high like incredible technical skill, but the love and the care and that sort of personalization like isn’t there right
Adam: It’stechnically perfect but there’s no soul.
Nadia: Totally. And just like music. We know that if you play it technically perfect sonata on the piano but there’s no soul to it, it’s going to fall flat. Or you can play absolutely beautifully but if you’re making mistakes all over the place. It’s not, it’s not going to listen to it.
17:34:08 Adam: Or, it’s jazz.
17:34:11 Nadia: So I think within that context, we’ve been using that a lot as a North Star and how we think about things and you know when you mentioned McDonald’s, I think that really sort of lit something up in me because I’ve been thinking a lot about new luxury and what that means in the context of, including new voices and including people have different shapes and sizes and colors and experiences which, I think, if you’re not thinking about that it’s a luxury brand, you’re not going to survive, because this is your customer. And if it’s not your customer, it’s a customer that cares because they have friends of, you know of that. So there’s a brand that I’ve been sort of obsessing over lately. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but they’re called Telfar. So tell far is has also been dubbed sort of on the street as the Bushwick Birkin when, so they make. They.
17:35:08 Adam: I No no, keep going. Yeah.
17:35:04 Nadia: I thought you would you seem pretty tapped in.
17:35:07 Adam: I’m definitely not, but keep going.
Nadia: I do what I love about this brand is that they have turret they are considered a luxury brand, even though their tagline is, it’s not for you it’s for everyone. And what they have done is they’ve turned every single trope of the luxury model on its head. And, you know, one of the things that they do which is funny I was, I was actually talking to a reporter about about this brand recently and I said you know it reminds me a little bit of like what John Galliano was doing in the 90s, you know before there was all this money, and this huge machine and it was just raw creativity, you know, and he just used his friends to help put on shows and, yeah,
Adam: And that’s what I’m going to do, and it’s going to be what I wanted to be.
17:35:52 Nadia: And it is love and it is skill like in spades and I think sometimes, both of those things can get diluted when you throw too much money or sort of influence and power or conglomerate added. And so what’s been really interesting about Telfar is that you know he grew up in Queens. And he grew up kind of going to White Castle and going to, you know,
Adam: I’m looking at the White Castle uniform now yeah it’s crazy, yeah.
17:36:18 Nadia: You know what I love about it. he was like, Oh, you want to you want a piece of that collaboration where you got to get a job at White Castle, you know, and because this was a first of all this brand has been around for like 10 years so it’s not that they’re, they’re brand new I think they’re coming to prominence now because the cultural moment they’re sort of rising the cultural moment. Yeah, but you know the idea that they just needed some funding and they’re like ‘Well we like White Castle so maybe they can do it.’ And what I find so amazing is that you know they had one of their runway shows and then the Vice President of White Castle said, ‘Well, why don’t you have the after party at our restaurant in Times Square.’ And they were like, ‘That’s awesome. And we won’t even have like a guest list, anyone can come,’ and it was the biggest party the most wanted party in all of Fashion Week, and you had literally the Vice President, turning on and off the lights, so it would be like a strobe, and people were just filling up soda. I mean, but How delightful and joyful like that to me is what luxury should be, I don’t think luxury should be this like stiff, on, on flexible thing that that doesn’t feel like joy and beauty. Do you know what I mean?
Adam: Yeah, well there’s room for both. Yeah, yeah absolutely there there are certainly some of the enduring brands that are rigid in their expression. Some of those will thrive and, and evolve further into that direction but but I that example of telephone and some others. There’s room for that love, and that inclusivity. I wonder how much. It’s kind of like who was the designer that did the DHL?
17:38:01 Nadia: Oh that No.
Adam: Yeah, like, you can get away with that one time, and still be luxury, I don’t think you can go back to that well a second time and you’re like, yeah and then all of a sudden it’s like, Oh, it’s kind of like the gap, you know.
17:38:13 Nadia: Yeah. And why am I paying $7,000 for an Ikea bag. Right. You know, no one’s paying $7,000 for anything right now. and, and that’s the question about inclusive it.
17:38:25 Adam: There’s a way to signal that. And there’s a way to do it and intentionally with real, real meaning behind it. And I wonder how far How far do you think people how far do you think brands can push it before it goes pet.
17:38:41 Where’s the line between coveted and too accessible.
17:38:46 Nadia: Oh, that is the eternal question Adam, I think there’s this really interesting conversation around that that’s going on right now, around the luxury resale market. So I don’t know if you saw in the past week Gucci partnered officially with The Real Real which is a luxury consignment company that’s doing some great things.
17:39:15 Adam: Doing great things, but if these brands become too easy to get through something like that. I think it diminishes their brand.
17:39:17 Nadia: Yeah, I mean yes and no. So here’s my perspective on that, you know, so you have the Gucci on the one end and, you know, Alessandro Michele is like amazing right he’s transformed that brand. He’s done a ton in sustainability he’s super smart he surrounds himself with like Gen Z and millennials anyway so he’s hearing from you know the customers that most felt not only most purchase him but are also the future, the company. And then on the other hand you have Chanel, who is very skeptical the resale model and there’s a couple of lawsuits out, I think between Chanel and the real real around counterfeits and maybe not valuing things. And I think what’s interesting is I tend to think that a lot of that is driven more by the brands and by the people. So if you think about a Chanel like the amount of money that they pour into their marketing into their runway shows like they held a legitimately major fashion show in Paris Fashion Week just a couple of weeks ago. So they’re putting all this money and honestly Chanel, to me, is still one of the most amazing luxury brands just in the way that they operate in the way that they create content and the way they bring you into their universe in the way that they uphold men was out of Coco Chanel is sort of, you know, the specter of the guides everything that they do. But you have to understand these they think if we’re putting all this money, and we have these incredibly high prices. The Real Real for instance is going to denigrate our brand. Again, I think that’s the company really being strict about control over their image, but I think if we’ve learned one thing about the shift in luxury, is that traditional luxury old luxury is that the luxury brand sets the thing that everyone aspires to they say this is what you need to aspire to you need to come to us. What we’re seeing now is that it’s the people who are sitting in defining what luxury means for them. And it’s the brands that now have to come down and speak to the people and not come down and like a derogatory way but come meet them and so you see really smart brands like Gucci doing that. I think Chanel does a really good job at some of their other ways like their beauty products are more accessible and feel luxurious and they’re kind of coming to, to a customer and making her feel like an expert and that she has taste and things like that but I think that the idea of people buying $8,000 jackets right now is probably not a reality. And the idea of buying something that is already in the production system it is not made new, we don’t need more stuff. There’s enough stuff that is produced, to let everyone survive for the next 50 years if we never made another thing. You know, I think there’s a real pride that people feel when they get something that feels responsible. There’s a story behind it. I think people like to say like yeah oh you like this it was, it was second hand you know and and i and i got this great deal on it isn’t it beautiful And isn’t it, you know, and you have a story around I wonder what the woman who worked before what her life was like? You know when you start to kind of have these things be passed down, they almost become like heirlooms you know. So I think it’s a complicated thing but there’s a huge desire for luxury for traditional luxury brands to hold on to that creative control and not say no our prices need to be really really high. But I think the reality of the world now is that you’re not gonna, you will have your high value customers who are sort of recession proof, who will who will buy these things. Regardless, but I think more and more people are going to be thinking what is sustainable what is inclusive, what is the way that I can get this sort of this beautiful thing but mix it into the way that I like to live my life and create it, something that’s that’s totally me and hope totally different.
17:43:07 Adam: Very interesting. Do you think there will be more brands that come and find that path into diversifying their distribution so that their, their wares can be found through a variety of channels and not just the ones they control and making that second hand or alternate connection possible?
17:43:31 Nadia: Yeah, I mean you’re starting to see it. You know I think a lot of a lot of brands, again, there’s a control issue but I think if they have control over it, you know this isn’t necessarily like a traditional luxury brand but if you think about Levi’s, which has always been a pretty strong proponent of of the environment and a custodian especially denim being one of the most destructive materials to make in the world. They recently launched a sister site that’s like secondhand vintage, you know, and you can go on that site and you can just buy up, you know, older vintage Levi’s and I think there’s a real cache to that there’s almost more of a cache to say you’ve got got something vintage or second hand or, you did a little searching for something than to just say you know what ‘I clicked on a thing, and I bought it because I had some money.’ But you know, but at the same time, I mean, to that point. I think there’s so much more to this conversation than the product, because to me. There’s a difference between. Oh, I’m going to go on the, on the Cartier website and I’m going to buy a pair of earrings whatever for that doesn’t do that’s not going to take-
Adam: That’s 10% of the experience of going into the cardio store right having that experience of asking somebody to pull the thing out from the case or reach up and grab it from the shelf and experiencing that moment where they unveil it for you and they –
Nadia: They give you the champagne and you like you have their business card and they, you know, and you have the story of the route you know there’s a reason the Cartier is a mansion on Fifth Avenue because it has all this history and Grace Kelly was there and all these things with a real real I mean now you know there’s an interesting conversation to be had about the role of retail retail stores. And I think the role of a retail store is actually going to be exactly to double down on that experience because you can sort of get anything online now. And so even what The Real Real is done and I swear I’m not like a spokesperson for them I just I think what they’re doing is very interesting in their stores they would first of all they look beautiful so you walk by and you don’t think consignment you walk by and think, ‘Oph, that looks interesting.’ But they also were really good about curating events and so you would have, you know leaders in sustainability do these like panel discussions to talk about the impact of clothing has and the world, or they’d have interesting designers come in and curated collection for you and talk about why you know we should be not buying a bunch of new clothes all the time and all these things so I think it’s going to be more about the process than the product and a lot of ways, whether that’s. Oh, I’m going to go to a really fine handsome luxury store and I’m going to interact with a salesperson and really meaningful way, or I’m going to buy this product but there’s this really interesting sustainability or inclusion story around it. That’s going to be something I can tell my friends about.
17:46:13 Adam: Hmm. So it’ll it’ll be more about in finding a meaning or injecting a meeting into the way you got it, potentially, or add context to it versus just that clicking own mentality that Amazon has trained us all into
Nadia: Yeah and Amazon’s trying to get like they have tried and tried and tried to get into the luxury space and they keep trying and it just fails to stick and I think it’s a great opportunity to say you just you just can’t buy your way into luxury you just have to have, you have to have some love and skill that supports it.
17:46:45 Adam: Well, what do you think they could do-I was just about to say that this has been a good conversation but now I’m intrigued. Let’s talk about Amazon for two seconds, what do you think they could do better, because you’re right that I think they’ve had five failed attempts and they’re trying again now and this every time it’s like this time it’s going to be the time. Sure, not buying it, but what do you what do you think is the missing ingredient for them? Why, why do they keep swinging and missing?
17:47:12 Nadia: I mean, I don’t, I don’t want to say like this Hey this what Amazon needs to do for it to work but I think there’s there’s probably a couple of really key reasons why it doesn’t work. I think the first thing is that the minute you start to stock or have a relationship with Amazon you are effectively cut off from your customer. So you, you basically don’t have the ability to look at the data, you know, to have that sort of one on one conversation with with your customer I think that’s really important and there’s why I think there’s a very well trodden set of lists of brands that have refused to sell on Amazon for that reason. And I think, quite frankly, there’s a negative brand rub. If you’re a luxury brand. And you have an Amazon in front of you, it just simply denigrates the brand. Unfortunately-
17:48:09 Adam: The opposite of The Real Real. It’s not it’s not additive. Right.
17:48:12 Nadia: Exactly.
Adam: It’s because you can just add to cart or Buy Now. It’s removes any of that context or meaning that people are seeking in those things.
Nadia: That’s right.
17:48:22 Adam: Interesting. Well this is great not yet that this was a fascinating conversation for me to to pick your brain on that topic. Thank you so much for making time.
17:48:33 Nadia: Thank you for having me.
Adam: Where can people find you online?
17:48:39 Nadia Where can you find, I’m not unfortunately a very active social media human butterfly where
Adam: So you are mentally healthy. Therefore,
Nadia: I tried to be, but I do, I do keep a little funny place where I write my thoughts on luxury. It’s Nadia Tuma Weldon one word at just gonna make sure I get it right. Yes, sub stack. com.
Adam: Oh, perfect. I’ll definitely link to that.
Nadia: Thanks again. Thanks so much.

Categories: Podcast