There was a time when luxury was unapologetically analog. And while that time has not completely passed, it is in the process of making way for a brighter, more digital future.
Hand made is no longer the bellwether of quality and craftsmanship it once was. A hand-sewn garment is no longer the pinnacle of fashion. In fact, there is a bit of a backlash against exploitative labor for labor’s sake.
Certain companies like Pier 1 Imports and Nike have faced accusations of exploiting foreign workers by paying low wages for products they mark up a 1000% and resell in their expensive retail stores.Whether or not this is fair criticism is beside the point. True luxury now has to consider the circumstances of the products manufacture, or the sourcing of the key materials.
It is against this backdrop that digital goods are carving out a place for themselves in luxury markets, once closed to all but the analog world. Here are three such examples:
Great movies are shot in digital. Even if you like retro movies, retro has gone digital. Shooting in film is a retro-hipster gimmick. The best theaters show movies in digital. iMax is a luxurious, digital experience.When it comes to digital, the higher the resolution, the better. This is true of TV as well. And services like DirecTV boast more high-definition channels as a premium feature.
Directv specials also include other digital luxuries not available with analog. Mobile device apps allow users to watch recorded, live, and On-Demand TV wherever and whenever they like. Movies on analog tape are no longer a luxurious experience. Digital recording and distribution of entertainment is where one finds the true luxury experience.
Analog, mechanical watches (otherwise known as watches) are anachronistic symbols of excess. They are not
necessarily symbols of luxury.
When the Apple watch was officially announced, one of the first things that happened was that luxury brands started scrambling their resources to put out watches with a digital (smart) component. They saw the handwriting on the wall.
Now, Apple Watch is one of the biggest watch brands by sales in the world, second only to Rolex. $400 is the entry point to a new Apple Watch at the larger size appealing mostly to men. The price goes up well past $1,000. At $50, the least expensive add-on Apple Watch band costs more than what most people are willing to spend for an entire watch.
Luxury brands have had to respond because luxury is more than just mechanical precision. The most precise mechanical watch is orders of magnitude less accurate than the cheapest quartz watch.
Today’s wrist computers can help you locate your phone or your kids. It can proactively remind you when your next meeting is. It can open the door and start your car. It is not some silly, dime-store bobble.Elements on your watch face are made of pure gold. That’s nice. But the ability to change your watch face at will is a greater mark of luxury to a new generation of watch wearers.
Like with movies, people are no longer having luxurious family and personal photos taken with film cameras and flash bulbs. We are on to digital cameras with xenon flash mechanisms. The best photos in the world are being taken with high-resolution digital cameras in both the personal and professional realms.
While some photos are still being hung on walls inside the home, most of them are being displayed on computer, tablet, and smartphone screens. There was a time when visiting your house was the only way anyone could actually lay eyes on your fabulous photos. Now, you can share them online in a digital format.
The world of luxury still appreciates analog craft. Fashion and jewelry are just two areas where analog dominates. But even there, 3D printing is starting to become a feature. Whether it is 3D printing, Photoshopping, digital movie effects, or digital watch craftsmanship, digital has entered the world of luxury. And for better or worse, it is here to stay. There is no going back.