Crypto has had a long-standing relationship with luxury. This is largely due to common conceptions of cryptocurrency as predominantly accessible to a wealthy demographic, giving crypto a quality that can only be described as exclusive, and it is no secret that the essence of luxury is exclusivity. As posited by Vincent Quan, Associate Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, “luxury branding strategy has always been driven by the consumer’s desire to own something which many do not have. Scarcity creates demand.” (Via Joseph DeAcetis for Forbes, Feb 8 2022). There is an undeniable overlap between the demographics of crypto investors and luxury consumers, and this has long been identified by Juliette Thomas, founder and Director of London based luxury interior design company Juliettes Interiors.
In 2017, Juliettes Interiors’ made the pioneering move to introduce Bitcoin as a payment method for the company’s luxury interior products, being the first UK luxury retailer and interior design company to do so. At the time, 1 Bitcoin was worth roughly £4,000. Five years on, this number soared to as high as £49,000 in late 2021, and is currently worth approximately £16,000 at the time of writing. This signifies a massive increase in the cryptocurrency market, in line with Juliette’s own 2017 prediction that “within 18 months, [Bitcoin] will be a part of everyday life.” The significant increase in Bitcoin’s value between then and now certainly indicates that this is the case, as more and more consumers opt to invest in crypto due to its “quick, easy and hassle-free” nature, in the words of Juliette herself.
In May of 2022, luxury fashion brand Gucci became the first major brand to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment, with a slew of luxury brands and retail platforms – such as Off-White, Balenciaga, and Farfetch – shortly following suit. With such major brands recently hopping aboard the crypto zeitgeist, Juliettes Interiors’ 2017 move to deal in Bitcoin truly boasts the forward-thinking nature of Juliette, and has undeniably contributed to the expansion and continued success of her business.
The Accessibility Of Crypto – and The Risks that Come With It
Described by Juliette as a “universal currency”, Bitcoin undeniably streamlines the process of global trading, making Juliettes Interiors’ products more accessible than ever to overseas customers and thus maximising her business. However, Juliette has identified that drawbacks can certainly arise from trading in Bitcoin. The extremely volatile nature of cryptocurrency can arguably make it an unstable means for trading; Juliette exemplified that “when processing an order in which the customer has chosen to pay in Bitcoin, we have to cash it out immediately if the currency is on a downward slopedue to the fact that its value has the potential to suddenly and drastically drop.”
As the number of brands embracing the crypto market increases, spikes and dips in value are to be expected in cryptocurrencies, and this is an inevitability that luxury brands should be prepared for. Having stated that “the world around us doesn’t stand still and, as a company, we must always be ahead of the game,” Juliette certainly seems prepared to confront the risks of trading in crypto head-on.
Stepping Into the Future
The crypto scene is constantly expanding, and in order to stay on top of consumer demand, it is essential for the luxury industry to embrace this. In our current cultural landscape, failure to meet these demands puts luxury businesses at risk of fading into the background as crypto continues to rise. Five years on from its initial acceptance of Bitcoin as a form of payment, Juliettes Interiors continues to step firmly into the future, where the company will continue to embrace new and revolutionary ways to enhance customer experiences.