Craftsmanship in luxury

Craftsmanship is the cornerstone of the luxury goods industry. The obsessive focus on the art, the cultural roots, the societal context and the history not only preserves and enhances the heritage, but also helps tell a unique story and find markets for luxury goods, increasingly in countries far from home.

However as emerging markets not only demand goods as consumers but also slowly develop their own brands in luxury, how does the slow and steady pace of craftsmanship reconcile with the speed of globalisation?

The answer is deceptively simple: the historically well-established brands become evangelists for craftsmanship.

The craftsmanship and long heritage distinguish some of the most coveted luxury marques from the luxury upstarts. Such evangelism manifests variously: from Tod’s commitment to La Scala for the special project titled The Italian Dream, to Bottega Veneta’s opening of Scuola della Pelletteria to train the future generation of master leather craftsmen.

Is this bad news for emerging markets and emerging market brands?

Well, not really.

It does, of course, benefit immensely and strengthen the European luxury brands with a long heritage to showcase. But it also potentially levels the field, somewhat, for emerging markets — notably those with a rich history and creative treasures that are underexplored as sources of inspiration.

Think about what a Chinese brand could do drawing upon the history of the Tang dynasty to create beautiful products!

As some of you know, I am also a co-founder of the British jewellery brand, Livyora.  At Livyora, we created our Overture Collection by drawing upon Mughal Art and Architecture, that can be seen in India’s capital city and surrounding regions. We abstracted a visually stunning artifact of Indian heritage, to create stunning, handcrafted pieces in gold and precious stones. A wonderful story could once again be retold.

Craftsmanship still rules. All that is required is a new lens to look beyond the luxury marques of yore.

Four For Friday (17)

This week’s eclectic, interesting reads:

At the cusp of technology and regulation, Matthew C Nisbet argues why scientists must join food activists in examining regulation. This in the context of GE crops.

The designer of all things i – Sir Jonathan iVe, oops, Ive – on his quest for simplicity, and why simplicity isn’t simple.

This is the week when the inventor of the remote control, Eugene Polley, died. Have you ever thought of remote control as subversive technology? If not, do read the link.

Finally in the week of Facebook’s IPO, read Doc Searls’s post questioning much including the advertising-will-make-us-free (excuse the pun!) model being funded all over the planet. If you have never heard of him, I’d suggest you get a clue and read The Cluetrain Manifesto. He is one of those who wrote the book. Literally and figuratively.

Four For Friday (9)

This occasional series of good readings from around the web covers the themes of strategy, technology, investment and regulation. This week’s picks focus on innovation and investment.

How do Innovators think? – from a  conversation between Professors Jeff Dyer of Brigham Young University and Hal Gregersen of Insead, and Harvard Business Review.

Paul Kedrosky writes about better alignment of limited partner and general partner interests in private equity. This is a two-fer for this article follows on from another article by Daphne Zohar here.

Fred Destin wonders if Europe is going to emasculate venture capital with misguided regulation. It is a great read but as many start-ups and early stage companies are finding, few VCs in Europe are actually paying much attention to the “venture” aspect of their business.

And a visual link on raising venture capital, from the incomparable OnStartups blog. Click through and see what occupies much of my time these days.

Four For Friday (4)

This occasional series appears when the week’s readings have been good and should be shared. The themes are strategy, technology, investment and regulation, but sometimes they just cannot be separated. Sometimes the readings have been so good that I have a hard time picking just four. That is why this issue appears on Saturday this week instead of Friday. This week’s readings are also focused on social media conversations and the changing role of the customer. 

Albert Einstein reportedly said ““If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. This week Dina Mehta presents an apparently simple, but quietly powerful, model for measuring the value of social media conversations

JP Rangaswamy’s reflective post on customer participation in business innovation, titled Faster Horses in the Age of Co-creation, generated so much conversation that he followed up with a post that identifies the trends all innovative businesses would do well to heed. This second post is titled Whoa! Reining in the Faster Horses. Both resonated with me because I am involved with a couple of clients at the moment who are doing this right. I get to test the learnings, so to speak. 

Fred Wilson shares his views on Adeo Ressi’s criticisms of the Venture Capital model, and then revisits an old and clear lesson on what makes some VCs greater than others. Both good reads. 

Over at GigaOm, a post that combines technology, innovation and regulation and offers a strategic puzzle: Will 4G networks get sidetracked by patent problems?