Friday, 9 October 2015

The 'Pursuit of Luxury' continues...

One of our colleagues in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire, Dr Shaun Borstrock, is working with TVAD research Dr Steven Adams to co-convene another conference as part of the 'In Pursuit of Luxury' project, with Dr Veronica Manlow, Associate Professor at Brooklyn College in the School of Business. It will be held on May 6 2016 in New York at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, 65 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016. The convenors will be joined on the steering commitee by Prof Eugenia Paulicelli of CUNY. The conference team has this week opened the Call for Papers.

The 'In Pursuit of Luxury' conference provides an opportunity for academia and industry to come together to discuss issues that have a key impact on the global luxury and luxury brand market. The conference provides a platform to examine and expand understanding of the concepts of luxury and to provide a refreshing context to the debates surrounding the subject. Dr Borstrock and fellow commentators aim to take a critical look at a range of issues, some well-established, others neglected. This provides a focus for the exploration of luxury's past, present and future. This year's theme is around commercial and academic perspectives on luxury.

The idea of luxury has secured a place in modern western culture as the term is part of common parlance. This conference will aim to explore the many issues and debates surrounding the idea of luxury. When and where did the concept of luxury emerge? What is its history? How does luxury relate to social class? Is luxury necessarily the preserve of the few and, if so, what are the qualifications to consume luxurious objects? How important is social status v the accumulation of money in luxury acquisition? How does an object or experience acquire luxury status? Is it through branding or high quality materials and craftsmanship? Is it possible to mass-produce luxury, and, if so, what are the ethical implications of this? In a global world of mass consumption, is luxurious consumption becoming politically and/or ethically suspect? Similarly, as the world's resources diminish, might we expect the political implications of conspicuous consumption to take on greater resonance? And, not least, what is the future of luxury in a world beset with financial turmoil? All of these questions stack up to make for a subject of pressing concern and febrile debate.

For the Second International 'In Pursuit of Luxury' conference we will consider work within the field of luxury which encompasses established firms with a long heritage, from conglomerates to small independent firms, to "new" luxury, and emerging models with innovative practices. How is the industry structured with respect to work, what hierarchies are in place, and how do people in a variety of positions from professional to service and labour classifications experience their day to day reality? What is it like to work behind the scenes in ateliers, factories, in facilities, and in support functions such as technology and research? How do those who work on the front lines with the public perform their roles and how do they relate to corporate directives?

The irony of the "democratization" of luxury is subject to analysis as is the mythologisation of labour, upheld by marketing, media and public relations where ground level operations in stores are spectacularised while production, which happens a layer below the surface, is obscured. It is at the level of production where artisans practice their craft and where others perform labour. It is here that costs may be cut the most, workers deskilled and labour subject to the logic of scientific management. It is also the point at which artisans and factory workers alike may be integrated into the culture and philosophy of the company in a way that enriches their lives.

How sustainable is a luxury model dictated to by fashion and business, which requires ever larger segments of the global population to consume and produce luxury, in faster cycles? What are the costs of continuing along this trajectory, and indeed what are the forces that create and fulfil the desire for luxury, and that uphold its existence in a variety of incarnations along a continuum stretching from the bespoke and rarefied to "new" luxury?

To submit an abstract, visit the project website at For abstract submission enquiries please email us at:

For general enquiries, please email us at:

For sponsorship information please contact Nicholas Thomas at:

More information is available on the project website


No comments:

Post a Comment