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A Lack of Luxury? Contemporary Luxury Fashion in Sri Lanka

by Lucy Hitchcock

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Within recent history the impact of globalization has made a crucial impression upon the contemporary understanding of luxury, largely due to the mass-expansion of luxury fashion brands around the globe. The extreme growth and visibility of these brands, substantially dictated by conglomerates such as LVMH and the Kering Group, has monopolized and, for many, come to epitomize the term luxury. This is evident within a wealth of marketing literature, which both assumes and establishes the colonization of the term by the world of global luxury fashion brands. Sri Lanka does not, as yet, have a significant incidence of these brands. Despite this, the recent influx of communication technologies has led to a stronger knowledge of their significance around the world. Consequently, during qualitative interviews undertaken within Sri Lanka, many respondents commented on the apparent lack of luxury fashion within the local market, understood as the absence of these same global luxury fashion brands. This would suggest that without the physical presence of global luxury fashion brands luxury does not exist within the Sri Lankan market. This article proposes that the sheer scale of the contemporary global luxury fashion industry has created an objective understanding that has garnered dominance through its prevalence and transnationalism, as can be demonstrated in the case of Sri Lanka. Through the comparison of two luxury fashion brands, Louis Vuitton and Lovi Ceylon, this article considers the context that has created this perceived lack of luxury within Sri Lanka.

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