Every year end people come up with a list of words to banish from popular lexicon. I hope in 2014 we leave behind the word “Luxury,” and those who sell so-called “Luxury” immediately take note.
Merriam-Webster defines luxury as, “a condition or situation of great comfort, ease, and wealth…something that is expensive and not necessary…something that is helpful or welcome, and that is not usually or always available” (Merriam-Webster.com, 2013).
During at least the last two decades, the increasing use and misuse of the word has taken on a laughable quality. If luxury were a person, she, or he would be a caricature with an exaggerated physical appearance and an unrecognizable faux accent. According to Merriam-Webster, the origin of luxury is traced to the 14th century, and Anglo-French roots translate luxury to mean excess (Merriam-Webster.com, 2013). Granted, luxury definitely applies to a category of consumables that fit a certain profile. However, the term’s application now includes all sorts of consumables that do not necessarily communicate the meaning or original purpose as a descriptor of all things in excess.
Examples that come to mind including upgraded apartments that are called condos and now qualify as luxury because appliances may be a step-up from the low-end is baffling to a logical mind. Mediocrity labeled as luxury is now the norm. An inflated price point, but shoddy material is passed off as luxury in clothing, cars, housing…almost anything imaginable marketers label, luxury.
A place to live is not a luxury or excessive. Not for the average person. Of course, there are people in the world who can afford to purchase overpriced and unnecessary consumables. However, the mainstreaming of the world luxury to apply to everyday necessities is a strange development. Take the apartment example again. Across the U. S., the gentrification of urban neighborhoods have replaced affordable living with luxury living, and as a result, those who lived in the neighborhoods become displaced because they lack the financial means to join the luxury club.
Unfortunately, the capitalistic nature of a contemporary society anchored in consumerism creates the perfect storm. Few people will probably decline an opportunity to live in comfortable surroundings or buy convenience if they can, but those things are relative. What may be luxurious to one person can be considered common to another, it’s all a matter of marketing, perspective, and disposable income. When a company slaps the word luxury on a product that lacks the qualities befitting the label, we should resist the temptation to fall for such illusions.
Let’s work on redefining what luxury really means and stop accepting the most mundane items like appliances as luxury items instead of nicer than average functional tools.
Luxury RIP, please.