Tom Ford was a keynote speaker at Supreme Luxury, the International Herald Tribune’s 2007 annual conference, in Moscow. Since leaving Gucci, Tom Ford has established his own brand. He works with Estée Lauder on fragrances, with the Marcolin Group on eyewear and Ermenegildo Zegna on menswear, and he has a partnership with the Hong Kong-based Lane Crawford Joyce Group.
Luxury is never going to go away, says designer Tom Ford – shown here, with, from left, Kate Hudson, Liv Tyler and Julianne Moore at the launch of Tom Ford Menswear, New York. To covet what your neighbor has is primal. But what IS luxury?
The more mature are switching to ‘less is more’. Supreme luxury is freeing up time with the minimum of energy. To seduce the luxury consumer requires honest quality and lots of service, which is paramount in what is personal commitment. Luxury also means something that has not had an effect on the planet, which is a tremendous growth opportunity. But what is supremely valuable is credibility, to be the true authority.
In the 1990s luxury had a radical effect in fashion, cars, champagne. Luxury went from hard to find to hard to miss. How do we remain fresh today when luxury has been the buzzword, every brand is luxury and it has become bastardised. Two days ago in Los Angeles I saw luxury frozen chicken. Is luxury about to fall out of fashion? No, it is not – but it is changing. Luxury is something exclusive, something that that adds to the enjoyment of life.
We have seen wealth grow faster recently than any time before in history but you can never count on something to stay in style forever. I become nervous when thinking about it. We are immune as long as we do not become complacent (luxury has fallen out before, straight after the French Revolution and, more recently, in the late 1960s when it was not done to comb your hair).
I am completely consumed by the future of our industry (to do this I may be in my usual gear, no tie and open-necked shirt, or I may, as when talking at the Supreme Luxury conference at the Ritz-Carlton Moscow, turn up in a grey suit and tie, white shirt and handkerchief, and dark brown glasses with big round frames and a small upper horizontal bar.)
When you start a brand you need to be right at the centre of it. That is what shapes a brand and I believe in it. I stand for modern glamor and elegance. In ten years I will have a hundred Tom Ford stores in key cities, all concentrating on the top end of the business. I know only too well we must not drown by diluting the message. This is shopping for men, although I might well evolve more into beauty and fragrances. I do not think of going back into women’s fashion (although I do miss that, from my days at Gucci). Right now my men’s fashion is produced in Italy but it is all about quality, and I could well manufacture in Spain, or China or India. I have no plans right now for launching a magazine and I have absolutely no thoughts of a Tom Ford hotel.