uxury is what can be repaired,” decreed Robert Dumas, boss of Hermès from 1951 to 1978. This blunt but straightforward definition of luxury strikes a chord today, perhaps more than ever. At a time when widespread planned obsolescence is playing such a catastrophic role in the degradation of our planet, this definition sums up in a few words the challenge we face.
“Repair” comes from the Old French (re)parer, via the Latin (re)parare: to ‘make ready (again)’, to restore to former glory and functionality. Repair means reinserting an object into a more virtuous, circular economy. Repair means making it possible for an object to be handed down, passed on to future generations, to ensure its permanence. Repair means saving our resources and protecting our environment.
For once, luxury can help show the way, because permanence and durability are at the very heart of luxury goods; they are their raison d’être. As fellow journalist Isabelle Cerboneschi once wrote, that is “la politesse du luxe” – “the politeness of luxury” (Le Temps, 4/12/2014).
“Luxury is what can be repaired,” decreed Robert Dumas, boss of Hermès from 1951 to 1978.
- After having been director of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, (organiser of the all-important SIHH in Geneva, now Watches & Wonders) for 15 years, Fabienne Lupo is launching a new kind of trade show named Re-Luxury.
A perfectly timed initiative
The launch of the first Re-Luxury trade show comes at an ideal time, when general awareness of the new challenges ahead is increasing, pressed as we are by the devastating effects of climate change and the geopolitical catastrophes that are assailing the planet.
It is a sign of a gradual change, as shown by the fact that the global market for pre-owned watches (via auctions, sales platforms and specialist dealers) is now estimated at 20-22 billion Swiss francs a year (equal to the exports of the entire Swiss watch industry in 2021). This spectacular jump is beginning to upset the business plans of all the manufactures.
The phenomenon, which also affects the fashion, accessories and equipment sectors, is being driven primarily by the new generation, fuelled by an undiminished appetite for vintage items. Because, unlike new items, a second- or even third-hand object has a real story to tell, a “soul” shaped by its history.
- Photo: Bruno Barbon, Atelier de Susanna Pozzoli ©Michelangelo_Foundation
Luxury sets the example
“Luxury has to be exemplary in terms of durability value and therefore transmission value,” explains Fabienne Lupo. “Originally I wanted to involve luxury brands in the Re-Luxury trade show. But I quickly realised that this kind of circular economy was not yet a priority for them, even though more and more brands are becoming aware of the benefits to them, in terms of image but also economically, from taking back their products, restoring them and reinjecting them into the circuit. In a way, the objective is to transform products by switching from the notion of pure consumption to that of investment.”
The purpose of this first edition of the Re-Luxury trade show is to lay the foundations of a project that will inexorably gain traction in the coming years. Indeed, this is probably only the beginning of a far vaster movement that will call into question the social, environmental and ethical consequences of a crazily globalised world.
Let’s not forget that WatchBox has just become the majority shareholder of De Bethune – concrete proof that bridges are being built between “luxury” and “Re-Luxury”.
Some have already understood. The only watchmaker who is a direct partner of the Re-Luxury trade show, Richard Mille, will present a few outstanding pieces. Once again, he’s ahead of the pack. A firmly established brand, although still considered “young” (21 years old this year), Richard Mille has everything to gain by demonstrating the permanence, and therefore the investment value, of his disruptive models. But the show’s main partner, perhaps unsurprisingly, is eBay, which is making no secret of its grand ambitions in the watch sector. The platform will present an “unparalleled selection of authentic luxury articles”, including not only watches but also jewellery and handbags.
Another partner of importance is WatchBox. The number one international platform for luxury collectible watches, WatchBox will be showcasing a selection from renowned major and independent brands. All the watches, duly certified, will come with a two-year guarantee. Let’s not forget that WatchBox has just become the majority shareholder of De Bethune – concrete proof that bridges are being built between “luxury” and “Re-Luxury”. Lastly, the Origyn Foundation, which issues biometric authenticity certificates for luxury objects, will be the main partner of the “Talks” programme.
- The Re-Luxury team (from left to right): Raffaella Rossiello, partner and communications director, Fabienne Lupo, founder and CEO, Sophie Delétraz, partner and creative director
A rich agenda
Hosted at the Hôtel Président Wilson in Geneva, Re-Luxury will take place from 4-7 November 2022 on two separate floors. There, visitors will discover a vast trade fair where precious watches, jewellery, handbags and luxury clothes will be on show. They will get a chance to unearth rare or even unique pieces and collectors’ items, all authenticated and certified. But they will also able be able to bring their own valuable objects and have them evaluated by recognised experts on the spot. They can even sell them, and put them back in the circuit.
In addition to this commercial area, the same audience will have access to separate themed areas. These include The Clinic, which will host a selection of the best repair and restoration artisans in the various domains represented at the show. There, visitors will gain insight into their exceptional skills in the restoration and enhancement of valuable objects. In The Lab, they can meet emerging start-ups and players in the luxury sector, there to present their latest technological developments and, first and foremost, their initiatives for “more responsible and sustainable luxury”.
Lastly, they will be able to browse an outstanding collection of clothes by Yves Saint Laurent, before attending one of the daily Talks. On the menu are discussions with collectors, experts, and specialists in the latest trends in the luxury economy. Topics will include re-commerce, upcycling, recycling, sourcing, blockchain, NFTs, etc. along with, one hopes, an explanation of all this mysterious new terminology.
Visitors will also able be able to bring their own valuable objects and have them evaluated by recognised experts on the spot. They can even sell them, and put them back in the circuit.
- SALON RE-LUXURY
- 4-7 November 2022.
- Hôtel Président Wilson, 47 Quai Wilson, Geneva. Entrance on Palais Wilson esplanade.
- Open to the public.
- Price: CHF 30 per person and per day; 4-day pass, CHF 90.