Imagine your complete sensual immersion in the magical, mystical scents, spices, flavors, and experiences in a place that has attracted artists, free-spirits, and the international jet-set since the 60’s. Luminaries such as Yves St. Laurent, The Beatles and Stones; beauties from Talitha Getty to Madonna and Kate Moss; and world pioneering investors such as Richard Branson, all discovered a secret, precious world. Marrakech, Morocco.
Slow Luxury is proud to be partnered with Epic Road, the transformative travel company. Epic Road offers immersive and socially conscious experiences from luxury safaris tagging and helping to save the rhino population to honeymoons in Africa, the Indian Ocean, Asia, the Arctic, and Antarctica that combine the planet’s great adventures with thought-provoking experiences related to humanitarian and conservation initiatives. Epic Road has created a new genre of travel, called “transformative travel,” by creating exceptional, mind-expansive journeys that inspire, captivate, and thrill. Travel & Leisure magazine has designated Epic Road as a preferred travel specialist.
Beginning in December 2016, we offer Slow Luxury + Epic Road custom guided tours to Marrakech. In support of the slow luxury arts and culture of Marrakech, we are launching the first opportunity to create your own scent with Master Perfumer, Maria McElroy and explore the rich, original arts and community craft that abounds in the city, guided by Slow Luxury’s Jade Dressler.
Immerse below or click here to learn more and speak to Epic Road about your travel desires.
Maria has created indie-perfumes inspired by her travels in Asia and Africa with rare essences and natural oils through the brand AromaM for over 20 years. Learn more here.
Bling. A flash in the eye. You wanted it. You bought it. It was fast, often noisy. There may have been quality but it wasn’t essential. What mattered was that it stood out, that it shouted.
“That was then,” says brand development specialist Fiona Fraser, the world of high-end luxury is turning and buyers are now looking for a bit more substance in their purchases.
The trend is showing up in many different sectors. We have slow food where consumers take a deeper interest in where food comes from, how it is cooked and indeed how it is eaten. We also have slow travel, where the journey is as much a focus as the destination. In architecture, we have slow health with places such as Maggie’s Centres. Now we have slow luxury.
“The slow aspect recognises that the face of luxury has changed. Luxury consumers are far more educated today. They are really looking for meaning, value and connection in what they purchase. Their interest is in sustainability, they are interested in quality, heritage and in provenance. They are looking for products with a soul,” says Fraser who, along with co-founder Jade Dressler, has now established Slow Luxury.
Fraser and her New York-based business partner have both individually designed and developed luxury brands of their own. These have sold internationally to the top luxury retailers and it is this experience that informs Slow Luxury’s brand development work.
Luxury leaders such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel and Joyce in Hong Kong sold accessories Jade Dressler designed and she developed runway and stage pieces for Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass and celebrities such as Cher.
“We’re not just saying let’s look at your marketing. We’re actually able to use our experience throughout the whole process to develop brands,” Fraser says.
“It all started when we worked with Scottish Enterprise’s textiles team to bring together a showcase roundtable conversation on the idea of slow luxury.
“We invited a number of non-competing Scottish brands, such Johnstons of Elgin and Hamilton & Inches, to come and take part so they had an opportunity to connect with American destination and events planners and tastemakers. These people included a planner who does the decorations for the White House in America, and writers for the New York Times, Forbes, About.com, Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. These were people with a lot of influence in the market either directly with the consumer or with buyers for high-end retailers,” says Fraser.
Fiona Fraser’s previous business, Fraser Balgowan, designed and developed bags and accessories that were made with sustainably-sourced red deer hides and sporting tweeds for the top end of the market.
“Within the first year of business we were selling to Saks 5th Avenue in New York and we were in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine. It was the depth of storytelling that really connected with the people we were marketing to. Every bag had a story. That story connected people to those who worked on the land, worked on the estates, it related to shepherding, weaving, deerstalking and to the history of the communities in the Highlands.”
Fraser took this thirst for detail a step further and invited tastemakers from the US to Scotland. These high-end fashionistas were treated to a full tweed and heather deerstalking adventure so they could understand the way of life. So successful was this Slow Luxury immersive sourcing event that they are now offered by the company as a key brand development service.
“It’s about touching on something very personal, dipping into the richness of the craftspeople and the components of the products. In Scotland we are well positioned to highlight our history of manufacturing, our years of excellence and to tell a really great story,” she says.
But for Fraser too many of Scotland’s manufacturers are failing to truly connect with potential markets and customers.
“Technology obviously gives us much more of an even playing field than we had before. We don’t need to spend £10 million on a marketing campaign in the way we would have had to five or ten years ago,” Fraser says.
“If we are really going to work across the digital opportunities which provide us with other routes to market, we really have to improve on the way we tell our stories. It’s absolutely not good enough to say here’s our lovely scarf and it’s made with the best materials and it’s Made in Scotland. There needs to be more depth to the storytelling.”
Fraser does praise Scottish producers for being able to sell into the wholesale market however she sees a downside to this success.
“When all we do is sell to wholesalers we don’t have direct contact with the end customer so we don’t know what they are connecting with. We are not getting the intelligence back that helps us innovate and create new products,” Fraser says.
“The ‘cash rich and time poor’ luxury consumer is increasingly looking for curated product, it’s that idea of connection and personal engagement. That means the consumer is often interested in the lifestyle. They want to know what is the Scottish lifestyle.”
Learning these lessons from their own forays into high-end retailing has enabled Slow Luxury to reach out to other sectors of the luxury market and the company now is in discussions to consult and develop product with top-end Scottish retailers in apparel, interiors, accessories, food and drink, and experiential travel.
The company’s online brand development strategy focuses on using technology to strengthen social engagement by providing rich personalised content to create a virtual cycle.
“You build your audience and you build your conversation, that then drives traffic, which in turn drives sales and influences the media and buyers,” Fraser says.
In all this Fraser has high praise for the assistance she gained from Scottish Enterprise and the Global Scot Network.
“Stewart Roxburgh and the textiles team really connected with what we were doing. He’s been a fantastic mentor and helped with the initial introduction to Saks. The Global Scot Network too, both in the UK and the US, were a tremendous help. The advice I got from them was advice I couldn’t get from the agencies,” Fraser says.
“The irony of the Slow Luxury story is just how fast the journey has been,” Fraser adds.
Read the full interview in the Herald Scotland here
We Scots we don’t tell stories or shout out about our excellence, our luxury. While our invention, creativity and influence is felt throughout the world, most are unaware that the story of the luxury products we associate with Paris, London or Milan, actually originate from this wild and poetic place I call home, Scotland.
Tilda Swinton for Chanel
From a Chanel dress to a rare whisky; from a cashmere blanket to a $5000 designer suit, more often than not, while a label bears a famous name, the material inspiration and invention originates in Scotland. Besides luxury fabrics and materials, we’ve created other inventions that have influenced the world. Many began as the luxuries of their time, now necessities of today, such as the refrigerator, tires, steam engine, penicillin, colour photography, Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, golf, the telephone and television.
In Scotland, our ‘material culture’, the relationship between people, land and product inventions, is the story we have to tell. Aside from our great ‘social’ gifts to the world such as whisky, tartan and travel destinations, we have, however, failed to fully develop recognition for our other aspirational products, wholly owning our luxury brand identities that relate to Scotland’s materials, from pure sea salt to luxurious textiles.
Hebridean Sea Salt
Our heritage is based on hundreds of years of imaginative, ethical, sustainable production of material goods, (what we call Slow Luxury) and this is exactly what makes our products so desirable. Now is the time for these products, and their connection to people, land and time, to become the stories we tell globally. Now is the time for imaginative storytelling, for ‘imagination is the foundation of everything that is uniquely and distinctively human’ (The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything; Sir Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica) – and human interest, connection and relationships are what we know now drives the luxury desires of the contemporary consumer. The truth of the materials and production is the reward for the story.
Fabric from Johnstons of Elgin
Integral to this new idea of storytelling is Slow Luxury, not a fantasy nor a rigid and imposing ‘walk the talk,’ marketing “story”, rather an aspirational belief, an invitation for conversation, and an authentic way of blending lifestyle, community and commerce that has some greater depth of truth, transparency and meaning.
For business, this framework must deliver returns but dare we anticipate that those returns might include benefits to the wider bottom line in addition to short term, hard cash?
For me, as the designer of a luxury collection, the benefits of this new adventure include becoming far more connected with my passions in life and questioning how I can contribute towards the sustainability of the economy, particularly in Scotland’s most fragile communities. I often ask this question of my clients and friends in luxury; ‘What might inviting dialogue and conversation focused on the stories around your brand actually realise for you personally and professionally; for your business, for your community, for your culture?’ ‘What is the market opportunity for us in using our vulnerability to ‘dare greatly’, to see the next adventure, given our knowledge of the thirst for connection with Scotland worldwide?’
We have lived through boom and bust times, particularly in terms of the manufacture of textiles. We faced the near death of the industry and its negative impact on many communities, but we are re-inventing our offering as niche, as something of special, global value. There is real vulnerability in this experience and we can use this to unlock our creativity.
Tweed Shop at Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland
What makes for this poor visibility or recognition for true Scottish luxury brands in the marketplace? Many of the best known Scottish (luxury) companies produce private label garments for other global brands such as Louis Vuitton and Burberry, sell through third party wholesalers, or in cases such as Pringle, our companies have been bought by international concerns who have expertly traded on ‘Scottishness’ and heritage, while moving much of the management and production out of the country.
Looking to the high street, Brooks Brothers and Paul Stewart shop windows in New York this very week are all ‘Highland’, featuring Scottish fabrics made by Scottish manufacturers, with little trace of a Scottish brand name to be seen. In fact, Brooks Brothers has ‘Highland Heritage’ as its lead fashion trend for this season online, and the first edition of the Brooks Brothers magazine, published this week, features an extended editorial piece about Scotland with rich Scottish imagery and style sensibility.
This position is underpinned by the current Financial Times ‘How to Spend It’ edition, which speaks to technical innovation and the unrivalled quality of Scottish textiles, citing a who’s who of designers and luxury brands sourcing from Scotland, but with only passing reference to Scottish labels such as Begg & Co, who have invested in brand development in order to create visibility as a stand-alone proposition. However, expert in the business of knowing how to ‘hook’ the audience, the FT article begins with a story; a story of Johnstons of Elgin, its film set-like archive and a royal connection. Imagine if we were the ones telling this story? Why encourage others to take ownership of our heritage, style, craftsmanship and luxury?
This invisibility, lack of individual brand identity and an inability to compete with large, international marketing budgets, goes some way to explain why Scotland’s luxury brands in fashion and interiors aren’t among the world’s best known names in luxury. All the pride of manufacture and provenance, combined with our culture, inexperience, and less than bolshy approach to marketing, somehow precludes us from telling the world about our innovation and creativity, about our stories. We collectively fail to envisage how our voice might be heard. However, with social media and a plethora of online channels at our disposal, we do now have the opportunity to compete in a very cost effective way.
Style, Travel and Luxury on the Royal Scotsman
Marketing luxury is a game of desire and aspiration told through inventive stories. How do we get our Scottish selves into that mind-set? Appeal to our sense of adventure, sensitivity and imagination. Desire, and what is aspirational today is changing, as our world and environment necessitates. The fast, exploitative, rare, and controlled is thankfully now seen as excessive, wasteful and singularly offensive. Luckily for Scots, pure slow provenance, balance and connection are our basic luxuries and what the world desires.
Enter Slow Luxury. 2014 is a BIG year for Scotland on the world stage. We will host the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games, and the ‘Year of Homecoming’. The world’s media will be trained on us, it has already started, and this is an unprecedented opportunity to share with the world our old/new essential paradigms…and in the process, raise our luxury profile.
There is much support for the development of Scottish luxury from within Government and industry bodies. Only this week, James Sugden, Director at cashmere weaver Johnstons of Elgin, said the ‘tide has turned’ for the Scottish textiles industry and ‘the time is now’ for the Scottish Government to support investment in a textiles centre of excellence, as retailers are ‘re-shoring’ their orders from Far East suppliers to our own in Scotland. It is interesting however, that focus is predominantly aimed at innovation and production, with little evident discourse about connecting our brand identities and marketing development to that very innovation by developing new products with an ‘old soul’. In any event, following closely behind must be development of capacity and capability within companies, to engage a workforce in cultural change and a refreshed common goal that is centred around developing identity, selling the story and delivering world-class service.
Ryder Cup 2014
How does Scotland further develop its own brand of luxury culture? This idea of Slow Luxury includes both accessing our vulnerability and ‘daring greatly’, a philosophy coined and described by US researcher and storyteller, Brene Brown that has achieved global recognition. What is the vulnerable, the daring we all aspire to? What are the strengths of our stories and connections with our past? The world today is loudly social, mobile and imminently promoting itself in a collaborative, connected way. Strength in messaging, in collaboration and its ultimate success will depend on the extent to which Scottish luxury companies can envisage their marketing activities solidly taking place in a new paradigm. We can’t compete with the multi-million pound budgets of our global luxury brand cousins but there may be a better way to reflect our excellence.
How to create a compelling brand story today to expand profits tomorrow? Scotland is a perfect case study to illustrate how the concept of Slow Luxury can be a lens applied to brands and product offerings, to offer luxury consumers specific compelling reasons to purchase now. In the presentation below, we roadmap the steps smart brands can take to target more desire for their products and services through this proven new thought leadership, shaping the marketing of the best luxury brands today.
The head of Creative Production design at one of France’s most revered art glass manufacturers, Daum, Benoit Crantz, was recently in New York for a special appearence on December 4th at the Park Avenue showroom. He demonstrated the unveiling of a sculpture via Daum’s famed lost wax technique…a slow luxury indeed.
Today the atelier, which has collaborated with artists from Salvatore Dali to Philippe Starck, is an internationally known name, collected for art glass mastery depicting exquisite florals, fauna and figure sculpture of all sizes and majesty. The pate verre technique results in unparalleled color variations, textures, bubbles, detail and abilities to catch light and imagination. The lost wax, or cire perdue, technique captures every detail. This is a slow and ancient process, the pate verre dates back to Ancient Egypt and cire perdue dates back 5,000 years to roots in India. This deep history and lineage with the arts explains the fascination that a wide audience has for Daum.
This season, tiny to massive figures of Ganesh are popular. The artist collaborations are shared from the imagination of artists to the craftspeople of the atelier. It is the light that is invited every day and evolves, as the object is owned and lived with and the light changes within rooms.
The piece by Sylvie Mangaud Lasseigne is unveiled.
The matte finish and the bubbles are trademark Daum, although the polished and sleek is also realized.
While nature scenes were bucolically pictured early on, they would be quite at home in a modern composition, mixed with the sensitivity of furnishings, colors, textures and design of various eras. (or in a David Lynch movie)
This Appaloosa tulip vase comes in sizes from 3 inches high to about 30 inches high. Powerful. Vases are receptivity, suggesting a very female welcoming. Perhaps this one could have been the focal point of a room or a table in Georgia O’Keefe’s home.
Compare with Philippe Starck’s collaboration with Daum, La Toute Petite Etrangete (All Small Strangeness), the smallest of the vase series he designed for Daum in 1988.
Dali’s collaboration, a lime green, heavy footed kind of thing, boasts a humor and attitude of the artist.
Imagine the slow luxury of discovering and collecting this history of art and style.
Captivating to study and collect, they remain to be discovered at 499 Park Avenue between 58th and 59th Street, New York, New York or at auction. This 1930’s Daum vase recently sold at Christie’s is testament to the timeless beauty, craft and value of Daum.
Slow Luxury is a new standard for luxury design goods, where the highest design and quality meet excellent social, economic and environmental attainment.
As various industries, such as the building and the organic foods industry, have recognized standards and labeling at the international level, Slow Luxury will be a forum for achieving new value assessments for luxury fashion and home goods based upon a Maker’s positioning and goals towards The Slow Luxury 10 Commitments.
We welcome your growing interest and collaboration in our Slow Luxury Round Tables, the first of which took place in August 2012, set majestically in the Highlands of Scotland. Our exciting ventures in New York City with the United Nations’ Fashion-4-Development and Saks Fifth Avenue have sparked lots of ideas. Read more here on that and let’s chat soon!