Chapter 16: Looking at luxury: consuming luxury fashion in global cities
This chapter explores the luxury fashion industry, an empirically important but theoretically neglected area of scholarship and one with a pronounced geography that requires scrutiny. In conceptual terms, our research lies in recent debates about global economic austerity (Pollin, 2005; Foster and Magdoff, 2009; McNally, 2009), the second Gilded Age (Short, 2013; Piketty, 2014), and the future of consumption under conditions of precarity and polarization. It is also one of the first studies to explore luxury fashion within broader geographical scholarship on retailing, consumption and space. Empirically, the chapter has three key foci. First, the chapter focuses on the remarkable resilience and growth of the luxury market in the wake of global recession and the slowdown in consumer spending, looking specifically at the dramatic geographical expansion of luxury retailers into emerging markets. With an estimated worth of US$263 billion in 2007, the luxury brand market increased by 31 per cent from 2004 to 2009 and is predicted to grow by 71 per cent in the next five years (Tynan et al., 2010). Second, the chapter explores the ways in which luxury fashion houses maintain aura and grow their markets whilst retaining brand value and signature under increasingly complex global conditions.
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