Selling luxury with irony

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Gstaad Guy's avatar shows a young man in full eurotrash cashmere regalia, scowling disapprovingly at something off camera, while sitting between Loro Piana bags on his right and Hermès boxes on his left.

The big picture: The character is obnoxious in the extreme — and is also making a lot of money from the brands whose customers are being satirized.

Why it matters: In today's irony-drenched fashion world, the only unforgivable thing is to not be in on the joke — even if the joke's on you.

  • According to Gstaad Guy — an English Apple employee with a lucrative sideline in viral videos — his collaboration with Loro Piana was "the fastest selling Loro Piana product in history."

What they're saying: "This is breaking a lot of rules of traditional luxury brand management," writes branding consultant Colin Nagy, adding that partnerships like Gstaad Guy x Loro Piana "feel self-aware and modern."

Between the lines: The richest person in the world, Bernard Arnault, made his fortune by taking the world of luxury-goods manufacturing — an artisanal, labor-intensive industry that's hard to scale — and turning it into a world where consumers self-consciously covet whichever brand has the best marketing strategy.

The bottom line: Tragically earnest social climbers attempt to defend their spending by appealing to notions of quality and luxury. The old-money ultra-rich find it easier to just pre-emptively laugh at their own excesses.

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