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Flair for the obscure is luxury’s new currency | Glossy

Wander down the Takamiyacho neighborhood of Kyoto and turn left to a side street, and you will come across an unmarked boutique nested among the traditional Machiya townhouses. Venture in, and you will be surrounded by one-of-a-kind items ranging from dresses and denim to jewelry and housewares. Among them, I found a pair of jeans dyed in a mix of golden colors used for obi that I own today.

In Japan, this shop is nothing out of the ordinary. There, there’s a widespread penchant for hard-to-find offerings, and it has steered many local and emerging luxury brands. Rather than saturate the market with their product as a path to profitability, they choose to do just the opposite.

To be known by a small, elite group both builds a brand’s equity and ensures that it is lucrative in the long run: Limited-edition, waitlisted samples tap into consumers’ desires to be in the know, plus they create word-of-mouth. Similarly, appointment-only, hard-to-penetrate access results in the vibe of scarcity. What’s more, items’ desirability is based upon their stories and the hidden references they convey.

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