When I was younger, handmade artistry and heirloom pieces held great value. The crisp feel of the handloom weaves our mothers draped, the luxurious texture of the woodwork crafted by artisans, the tick of vintage grandfather clocks in dining rooms, the clink of fine bone china and porcelainware as we sipped tea, and the glint of the diamond ring or pearl earrings that peeked out of our grandmothers’ jewellery boxes—every sound, touch and smell was about something precious, unique and everlasting.
Driven by the opening up of the economy, access to new products, and rising consumer affordability and income levels, the journey from the vintage and slow to fast fashion, mass production, use and throw items and cheap replicas took but a couple of decades.
Today, however, life has come full circle, as the appreciation of slow fashion is on an upswing. With thrifting, recycling, resetting and more, sustainable fashion has gone beyond being just a buzzword. The generation that was once hauling in bulk of the mass produced are now looking for rarity and timelessness.
The “conscious consumers” of today are well-informed, environmentally sensitive and digitally equipped. They care about their surroundings, and the legacy they are leaving behind, by some of them opting out of fast fashion and investing in more future forward and sustainable choices. They want to be fashionable while doing good, as many surveys across the world show. Small wonder then the luxury industry is finding more ways to become green and create a positive impact.
From high-end stores to homegrown enterprises, brands are revamping their manufacturing and marketing strategies to appeal to the modern educated consumer.
This digital-first approach is aiding them in their endeavour to share their origin stories, create personalised experiences and attract consumers to join them on their journey. The natural diamond industry of today is also following the same path of educating their consumers, both present and future. They are working towards supporting biodiversity conservation, developing partnerships with local communities in different regions and creating employment opportunities and infrastructure in the places they operate in.
There is a shift towards “everything natural” and this isn’t limited to fashion alone. Making smart investment decisions that can help the cause of sustainability is slowly becoming the norm. Brands across industries are starting to become transparent and ethical with consumers. And this relationship is not one-sided. The consumer, too, is listening and responding.
The concept of conscious luxury has become entrenched, and is unlikely to go away anytime soon. From celebrities donning heirloom jewels and their mothers’ wedding attires, to the rise of farm to table eating, growing preference for beauty products with all-natural ingredients and vintage furniture making a comeback, this paradigm shift might be a recent phenomenon, but it is one that has roots in the past and a rich future.
The younger generation, too, is investing in things that matter and can be cherished for generations to come.
While they continue to covet their mothers’ handlooms and grandmothers’ jewellery, they are also stepping out to celebrate their personal milestones with jewellery that reflect their sense of self-expression and individuality. They want something meaningful, with intrinsic value for the moments that matter.
Richa Singh, managing director, India and Middle East, Natural Diamond Council.