Tuesday 8 October 2019 11:07 am

DEBATE: Will owning status symbols become a thing of the past?

Can we really foresee a time when owning status symbols will be a thing of the past?

YES, says Mark Davis, co-founder and creative director of property branding agency me&dave.

It’s already happening. The way we live is changing, as are the things we care about, and this is affecting our attitudes to the old trappings of success. 

Today, for example, we stream music on Spotify rather than curate record collections. Furniture subscription services offer flexible and sustainable alternatives that appeal more than owning a classic Eames lounger. We’re becoming less focused on what the material objects we own say about us. 


Where and how we’re living is changing too. By 2025, 60 per cent of Londoners will be renting, so the rabid pursuit of homeownership will naturally fade and people will start to embrace this new “subscription” lifestyle model. Being free to up sticks and work remotely, or move to a build-to-rent development in any city unburdened by “stuff” – covetable or otherwise – will become the new symbols of success. It’s all about experience, rather than tangible things. 

The experiences you have will be the new markers of success and wealth.

NO, says Leon Emirali, an entrepreneur and investor.

Despite the fashionable scepticism of capitalism, society’s appetite for consumerism is more rampant than ever. Yes, the technological revolution has seen demand for the subscription economy sky-rocket, but the lure of ownership remains strong.

Whereas cars and houses were the ultimate status symbols a decade or two ago, today’s society is looking elsewhere to discern wealth. Non-tangibles, such as wellness qualifications or membership at a fashionable members’ club, have become the modern status symbol. While not physical products, these new age symbols of status portray a glaring message of wealth and ambition.

But that’s not to say old-fashioned status symbols are dead and buried. As the prospect of homeownership becomes less and less likely for younger generations, the appeal of abandoning personal fiscal responsibility and deploying disposable income towards the purchase of luxury watches, designer clothes, and the latest pair of Yeezy trainers is all the more tempting.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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