3 Key Steps to Learn About Luxury Fashion + Beauty

In this blog post, I will be answering the following question that I have received from a member about luxury beauty.

There are a couple of ways you can introduce yourself to luxury retail. I will be breaking down how to learn about luxury fashion, what stores are considered a luxury, and the levels to consumer-facing roles of luxury.

The definition of luxury:

n. The state of great comfort and extravagant living; an inessential, desirable item which is expensive or difficult to obtain.

Now, that you know the definition behind luxury you need to understand the foundations of it. Luxury is associated with social hierarchy, social class, exclusivity and relationship building. I want you to understand that luxury’s exclusivity is a tale as old as time and it will never change. There are different levels to high-end/high street, luxury fashion.

Learn about luxury fashion

It is simple today to learn more about luxury fashion with the power of the internet. There are communities on social media networks like Twitter (HF Twitter), Instagram, Tumblr, and Youtube where you can learn more about luxury fashion in a visual form. Other ways include:

  • Reading books or listening to podcasts about fashion, fashion houses, designers, fashion eras
  • Reading articles from fashion critics and industry mavens on platforms like Business of Fashion, WWD, Vogue Business
  • Choosing two to three designers to focus on during the Fashion Weeks (NEW YORK, PARIS, LONDON, MILAN & MORE) to view on the app Vogue Runaway or watching their shows on Fashion Feed on Youtube
  • People watching and store visits at luxury stores to understand what stores carry what designer labels (independent, big names, fashion houses)
  • Watching fashion documentaries on Youtube, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu

Make your luxury journey simple by choosing an hour a week to research new brands. Or choosing one designer to learn more about a month. The goal of this is to have fun while learning about a new niche in luxury living.

Luxury Stores/Brands

If you are interested in learning what is considered a luxury, there are different levels to the luxury market. The following chart below includes brands that are categorized by section:

Outside of branded flagships and stores, there are department stores, boutiques and travel retail options for luxury consumers to get a taste of luxury. Here are some department stores: Saks (US), Bergdorf Goodman (US), Neiman Marcus (US), Nordstrom (US), Bloomingdales (US), Dillards (US), Macy’s (US), Harrods (UK), and Galaries Lafayette (FR). Department stores in the United States were (and some still are) the backbone of luxury retail because it was one of the formats of how luxury brands got known to consumers. From fashion to beauty, you were big if you were in a department store and selling products. At these department stores, you can learn more about social hierarchy especially as a sales associate “SA”.

The clientele is a big part of luxury consumption and retail. As a former SA, I learned more about how people tick, social class, and engagement through working in various types of luxury retail. Department stores are one of these ways that give you the inside scoop of how those who can afford luxury buy: what they buy, why they buy things, how they are buying things (are they a member, do they have a store card, are they a VIP client, etc). Not only if you are a great SA, but some of the consumers also impart great knowledge on you if you care for your relationship with them. Boutiques are different. They are more private with exclusivity in relationships building and product. Boutiques generally have independent labels that are rarely heard of or very rare to get.  It allows you as a customer to build a relationship with the boutique’s staff to understand what they are selling for your personal use. In beauty, boutiques are usually single brand focused like L’Occitane en Provence versus specialty multi-retailers like Blue Mercury and Sephora. Each boutique is different based on who they are trying to sell to.

Consumer-facing roles of luxury

There are different roles of luxury that are consumer-facing and there are examples below:

  • Client/Sales Associates “SA” (department driven)
  • Stylists (Nordstrom’s stylists are well known)
  • Tailors (Luxury department stores have their own)
  • Beauty Advisors (SA’s for beauty)
  • Jewelry Advisors (Jewelry/Watches)
  • Gift Services (providing gift wrapping and other sales associate duties)
  • Server/Hostess at Department Store Restaurants/Experiences
  • Brand Experience (Events/PR) Advisor

If you are a college student and considering getting into luxury, I suggest taking a job opportunity at a luxury department store. It is one of the easiest ways to get to know luxury, top-tier networking and different types of people.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post! Until next blog post.