Nick Foulkes

Stories by Nick Foulkes

  • The Luxuries of Technology

    I am caught on the horns of an argumentum cornutum, pondering the question, "Can a technology product be a luxury product?" It is the sort of philosophical issue worthy of a 21st-century Aristotle or Socrates. After all, one could argue that almost any product, be it a car or a garden sprinkler, is a technology product by virtue of the inclusion of technology to enable it to carry out its function of transport or irrigation, respectively.But being that I am not a rigorous—nor indeed any kind of—philosopher, I take a technical product to be something electronic, the exact workings of which I would have trouble explaining to my children. I would further add that these days a technology product is often something that is more or less obsolete, or is about to be superseded by a new generation of similar products, typically as soon as one takes possession of it. And it is the rapid onset of obsolescence that prevents my accepting that a technological product can also be a luxury product....
  • Suits for All Seasons

    Top execs want tailors to come to them. In return, they'll buy scores of pinstripes at the same time.
  • Nick Foulkes: Luxury Can't Be Taught in Class

    The dawning of the new academic year reminds me of my distrust of vocational education. Of course, there are exceptions: medicine, say, or the piloting of large aircraft. However, I believe that the line should be drawn long before one gets to luxury. Don't get me wrong; craftsmen should be skilled in their disciplines. But it is the pernicious cult of the M.B.A. and its increasing influence on the world of luxury that concerns me.Luxury is not something you can pick up in a classroom. The appreciation of true luxury is a lifetime's work. I find the idea that one can be taught luxury—and the thought that the world's great brands are going to be run by a bunch of spreadsheet jockeys—really rather dispiriting. This sense of gloom was compounded by the death of British luxury-nightclub owner Mark Birley last month.I was privileged to count Mark as a friend. More than 40 years ago he founded the world's grandest nightclub, Annabel's, in Berkeley Square, and every decade or so thereafter...
  • For Whatever It's Worth

    Often when I wander down the world's great shopping streets, I silently curse the concept of shareholder value. It always seems to me to come with an expectation for constant growth, and for this, luxury companies need to find ever more ingenious ways of getting us to spend more.There are some brands that achieve this almost effortlessly. For instance, the other day I strolled into my local branch of Hermès and examined some of the cute crocodile-skin ring-binder diaries: small things a few inches square with a nice silver pen slotted into the side. I was delighted to see that the more expensive ones were heading north of £1,500.The fact that I was only mildly surprised by this price tag testifies to the power of the Hermès image and its reputation for quality and style. Being charged a considerable sum for a small and beautiful object has a value to the customer; it offers reassurance that this is indeed a serious purchase. And to be taken seriously you have to take yourself...