The concept of luxury has changed, but to what exactly?

Edwin J. Viera, Opinion Editor

As a native New Yorker, going home is something I always look forward to. However, every time I go home, I always see more apartments being built that all have the same banner wrapped around them. It usually says something like, “Luxury apartments, coming soon!”

The word luxury being used in this case has come to really mean unaffordable. Neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan are flooded with these kinds of developments. The rest of the sign might read as, “One Bedroom starting at $2,350, Studio starting at $2,050.” After seeing this, people slowly realize the true luxury is being able to afford one of those apartments.

However, it’s not only real estate that has been absorbed into the changing culture of luxury items. Certain items that were once considered a luxury or even marketed as a luxury are commonplace. Marie Antoinette is famously misquoted for saying, “Let them eat cake”, but has cake become something that we all desire?

Luxury has become a unique concept, because it now serves an entirely different purpose, a relatively unknown purpose. Some people consider just having the money to pay their bills that month, while others consider affording to buy several items from Amazon every so often

Luxury has been reprioritized in society because it can be somewhat attainable. Now with websites like Amazon or other means, a person can look like they are of a higher social status, which is what the changing luxury culture has really come to represent… status. Even before, Amazon, was en vogue, Wal-Mart had a variety of items to make anyone appear upper class.

People buy the latest pair of Jordan’s, not because they play basketball, but because they represent a person’s ability to afford sneakers that cost over $300 dollars. Society has shifted from luxury being a rare part of life to demanding the right too luxury. An example of this can come in the form of the website,

This website has allows people too rent purses of any brand, whether your taste is Louis Vuitton or a classic Chanel, anyone can seem like their style is straight out of the pages of Vogue magazine. Elitism is something of a dying look because so many people can look wealthy. One article that demonstrates this is “The changing behviours of luxury consumption” written by Ian Yeoman, a professor at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

He writes, “Luxury is no longer the embrace of the King and Queens of France but the mass marketing phenomenon of everyday life.” This really is what luxury has become today; it is used to market certain items to people. Further in the article he writes, “Over the last decade, the concept of luxury has transformed itself from materialism to time and aspiration, making luxury more reachable and democratized”.

Basically, luxury has become a means of saying that a person has the ability to afford something. The apartments I mentioned above are the best example. Someone can afford to live in these apartments. However, people aren’t really able to afford some of the apartments in this area as this issue revolves around how gentrification affects cities.

Luxury has gone from being about furs and jewels to whoever can afford an entire designer label outfit. Luxury has changed to really become a means of disguising something that really isn’t a luxury. It has become an illusion because almost all apartment buildings that go up usually have the big banner saying that these are luxury apartments.

Because of this idea of luxury, people cannot afford to live there. In New York City, public housing, the projects, are what can really be considered affordable housing. Not many people are able to afford a raise in rent but when the next luxury building goes up, there will definitely be someone there to occupy it.