The art of repairing: a new form of luxury?


“Luxury is that which you can repair”. This visionary quote from former Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas resonates strongly today. After an era of planned obsolescence, the time has come for sustainability. With the rise of ecological awareness and new, more responsible and qualitative ways of consuming, the art of repairing is becoming a key topic, with more and more luxury brands integrating this service into their offer. 


Hermès is a forerunner in extending the life of its products, repairing up to 100,000 pieces in its workshops each year. For its leather goods alone, the brand has no fewer than 80 craftsmen working on repairs. Other luxury brands are following this example and anticipating the ageing of their products by offering services to maintain them over time. Shoe brand J.M. Weston has been striving for such sustainability for several decades: the brand repairs up to 10,000 pairs of shoes each year in a dedicated workshop in its factory. 


The Repairability Index, which was rolled out in France on 1 January 2021, is becoming a decisive indicator in the decision to buy, thus promoting a circular economy. But repairing objects represents more than an economic and social phenomenon, it is also a cultural one.  A prime example is that of Kintsugi, a technique which has been booming since the pandemic. This ancestral Japanese art highlights the beauty in something that is broken by repairing and accentuating cracks in porcelain and ceramics with gold, making them stronger than before. The ancient technique dating back to the 15th century is beginning to flourish again today, marking a change in modern-day attitudes. Behind the notion of durability is the fact that objects which can be repaired can also be passed on, and have a history and a memory, thus making them vectors of attachment and sentimentality.  


The philosophy of “repairing” also applies to customer relations. If goods are to last, they must be cared for, and the same is true for relationships. This is essential given that acquiring a new customer costs 5 to 10 times more than retaining an existing one. From a disappointing customer experience to a problem in the customer journey or a badly managed complaint, there are multiple areas in customer relations that deserve to be repaired, overcome or even enhanced!  


The sudden arrival of digital technology in society has profoundly changed the codes of customer relations in the luxury sector. Now more than ever, after-sales services must meet very demanding quality criteria to stand out from competitors. In etymology, the word “repair” comes from the Latin “reparare”, with “re-” signifying “again” + parare “to make ready, prepare”: thus the idea of restoring the initial object to make a new one. In this sense, each “mishap” can become a potential opportunity to turn a customer complaint into a sign of commitment and ensure the durability of the relationship.  


Repairing: a highly emotional act, since we only care to repair something that is valuable to us and to which we have an attachment… be it an object or a relationship 😉 


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