Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Luxury: The Great Escape

A few years back I had a conversation with our Union Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley on his penchant for luxury writing instruments. It is a well-guarded secret and very few people know about his collection. When we started the conversation he told me, “I just dictate and I am quite fast at that. I don’t want to talk about it (the pen collection), it is a personal matter.” However, after a little while when he realised that I want to know about his collection not as a journalist but as a fellow collector. And I did keep my word and kept it personal. I was then working on a story on lawyers and how they have a great love for writing instruments. Another senior politician and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi is also not open to talk about his passion. “Yes, I do have a collection of writing instruments,” he had told me. The legal grapevine has it that he also has introduced some of his friends to fine writing instruments and has been successful in nursing a similar passion in them to full bloom.
What’s with lawyers and luxury writing instruments? If you spot them at the courtrooms you may find three sharpened HB pencils jutting out of their coat pockets. However, if you see them in their chambers, and sometimes at their homes, you will discover their secret passion. They are not very eager to talk about it or flaunt it, but if they discover that there is an appreciation for their penchant for pens, they open up and chat just the way connoisseurs talk about their passion.
Luxury, in its various forms, acts as a great escape. Luxury is a great partner for solitude. One escapes into luxury. Just like these lawyers and politicians who only find time to dictate, secretly find solace in their collection of pens. They told me in their busy schedules they just don’t get any time for themselves, just themselves. So they secretly take out an hour, may be an odd one, and spend time with their collection. They write, they clean and they fill the ink of very interesting colours. “It is like meditation,” a senior lawyer had told me.   
The story is very similar with watch and clock collectors. I call them timekeepers. I have watched them closely since my birth, secretly escaping into this luxury. My ancestral home has a great collection of antique luxury clocks and pocket watches. This was a collection that spans three generations. Both my grandfather and his father, when they were alive, and now my father, spend one hour just winding all the clocks that include the grandfather’s longcase, chimes and pocketwatches, some date back to the late 1800s, of the biggest brands. This was their private time, a time of solitude, no one was to enter the clock room for that one hour. They never used to boast about their collection, it was very personal.
The case is very similar with connoisseurs of say cigar, single malt and luxury/vintage cars. These are very personal and private escapades.
This escapement has always been a very dominant, yet the hidden reason behind the love for luxury. 
The only difference is that brand custodians never looked at this avenue with a magnifying glass.
This escapade, if properly harnessed is the next billion-dollar-churner for all luxury brands across the globe. They just need to recalibrate the positioning. Instead of positioning a brand meant for flaunting the logo where a customer will spend millions of dollars to it show off, position the brand as a great escape where consumers will be spending even a higher amount to buy an escape from their busy and mundane lives where they do not have any personal time, just for themselves. They will pay top-dollar for that one hour a week, or that lazy private beach or yacht holiday, away from everyone, where the brand will be the lone companion to their luxury solitude.
Just escaping into luxury and make the brands richer by billions.

Luxury is the great escape.