Helen Lee Schifter on Redefining Luxury

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Helen Lee Schifter has served in an array of different functions throughout her long and storied career. She has served as an editor at both Hearst and Conde Nast; as well as an arbitrage trader on Wall Street. All of these experiences have contributed to her unique tastes and outlook when it comes to luxury. But according to Schifter, there are also many fallacies that exist about the idea of luxury that ought to be properly debunked before they continue gaining steam in the mainstream.

The most obvious one is that luxury is a commodity that ought to be only limited to the ultra wealthy. That somehow those that don’t have financial largesse cannot possibly enjoy luxury in meaningful ways. This of course is far from the truth, and simply wrong. Especially during these economically depressed times, it’s important that everyone recognize they have not only a right but the opportunity to experience luxury. 

Luxury is a subjective thought indeed; and it  need not be costly or associated with vast amounts of money. Indeed, the satisfaction that one obtains through luxury experiences are in no way correlated to how much money they spend on the experience. Helen has argued that if our culture and society more broadly were to work on expanding the definition of luxury, it  would have universal import and value. Indeed, this is sensible and also understandable. 

The definition of luxury can and does indeed mean something else to each person, depending on their backgrounds, desires, tastes, needs and wants. For example, for one person the experience of having an ice cream or a dessert that is a cost-effective nourishment might indeed give them that satisfaction of luxury that cannot be unmatched in other contexts. But for others that might not be the case. 

For some, luxury might only be a sentiment that’s obtained, fulfilled and felt only through more material items and pursuits. On Thrive Global, Helen Lee Schifter has written extensively about the importance of promoting varying and more universal definitions of luxury. Indeed our society emphasizes and places an excessive importance on the idea of materialism. But luxury need not be a matter of materialism. That’s a concept that perhaps might seem odd given the decades society has spent fostering the idea and notion that luxury can only be viewed through the prism of materialism.

But indeed there can be more depth offered to luxury – whether that be luxurious items, experiences or initiatives. Indeed a trip to the local park might be luxuries to someone while a trip to Nepal or some international vacation destination might fulfill the luxurious experience for others. It  is certainly the case that similar to beauty, luxury is indeed in the eye of the beholder. This is a principle that is here to stay. There’s no doubting that. 

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