The Upper End

10/04/2018
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As we were creating editorial for this issue, a topic came up and the question stuck, leaving me pondering it for days and reaching out to people much smarter than I to gain clarity: What is the difference between high-end and luxury? And along with that, was there always a distinction? Where does high-end end and luxury begin? 

This question applies to both goods and services in the home decor sector, and when thinking about it in the context of 2018 consumers, what comes to mind? For me, a few points of discussion: price and budgetary constraints (or lack thereof); quality, perceived quality and the importance of both; and the caliber of experience the product or service provides.

During my research, I posed the question about high-end versus luxury to my editorial advisory board and received a few poignant responses that I want to share:

Michelle Lamb, trend expert and Editorial Director of The Trend Curve, keenly compared the difference between high-end and luxury goods as akin to the difference between an expensive production home and a custom home. “Both may use excellent materials, but the luxury home offers custom solutions to specific wants and needs with few budget constraints. High-end products are expensive and offer good design and excellent quality. Luxury items are made-to-order, bespoke and perfect.”

Jeff Dross, Corporate Director, Education and Industry Trends, Kichler Lighting, keyed in on another important aspect of the high-end versus luxury delineation — exclusivity. “Product longevity becomes irrelevant and performance expectations become moot. All other product attributes pale when measured against the style and look they provide. A customer at that level of artistic and financial security demands a unique experience.”

The consensus seems to be that luxury begins where customization and uniqueness take a product from “60 were produced with top-notch fit and finish” to “top-notch fit and finish is a given — this product was made especially for Mrs. Smith and her home.” 

If this query has piqued your interest, the following pages will fuel the fire. Start by perusing our Idea Boards starting on page 24, full of luxe resources for the master suite and kitchen/dining area; then read “What Matters Now?” on page 60 for a look at how the high-end portion of the casegoods sector is rapidly evolving, shaking out the playing field; and don’t forget “Hell for Leather” on page 50, an analysis of the leather upholstery category and its swing back to luxury.

We’re also featuring a jam-packed High Point Preview, exclusive kitchen and bath research from our sister publication Professional Builder and an interview with International Market Centers CEO Bob Maricich inside this whopping 100-page issue. Enjoy, and the Furniture, Lighting & Decor team cannot wait to see you all at the High Point Market.

Nicole Davis

Nicole Davis is the Editor-in-Chief of Lighting & Decor and was also the Editor-in-Chief of Lighting & Decor's predecessors, Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast. She's been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries for six years and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. 

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