Living It Up: America’s Love Affair With Luxury

Living It Up: America's Love Affair With LuxuryJames Twitchell

Columbia University Press , 2002
ISBN: 0-743-24506-7

Luxury isn’t just for the rich, says James B. Twitchell. Today you don’t need a six-figure income to wear pashmina, drink a limited-edition coffee at Starbucks, or drive a Mercedes home to collapse on the couch in front of a flat-screen plasma TV. In Living It Up, sharp-eyed consumer anthropologist Twitchell takes a witty and insightful look at luxury – what it is, who defines it, and why we can’t seem to get enough of it.

In recent years, says Twitchell, luxury spending has grown much faster than overall spending – and it continues to grow despite the economic recession. Luxury has become such a powerful marketing force that it cuts across every layer of society, spawning a magazine devoted to spas, cashmer bedspreads on sale at Kmart, and a dazzling array of bottled waters.

Twitchell says that the democratization of luxury has had a unifying effect on culture. Luxury items tell a story that we want to identify with, and more people than ever aspire to the sotyr of Ralph Lauren’s Polo or Patek Philippe. Shopping itself is no longer a chore but a transcendent experience in which we shop not so much for goods as for an identity.

Sharply observed and wickedly funny, Living it Up is a revealing and entertaining examation of why we are all part of the cult of luxury.

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