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December CultureBlog: Global Trendsetters' Holiday Wish-Lists

December 2011

By Claire Brooks, President

This December, CultureBlog℠ takes a lighter tone as we ask our global City Correspondents what they’d like for Christmas. We last did this in 2006, when the ‘Less is More’ trend we had been following all year was a philosophical choice rather than an economic necessity. In 2006, our bloggers were experimenting with new online sites like Etsy.com, while London’s Regent St. experienced its busiest shopping day for 4 years on December 27th as the trend to shopping for luxury bargains post-Christmas took hold.

What a difference 5 years makes! In November 2011, our bloggers got together on Google+ to debate the build up to Christmas in their respective cities. Despite a strong Thanksgiving in US stores, crowds are thin in the main shopping areas of London and Berlin, suggesting the predictions of no to low growth in store sales is likely, though online sales are showing double digit growth in most countries as consumers seek bargains online.

As we’re able to consume less, what we consume has to be more meaningful and considered. Our City Correspondents’ “wish-lists” point to a continued trend in practical functionality alongside restrained indulgence and conscious consumerism: products and services that optimize comfort, promote spiritual serenity, restore physical and mental well-being, and celebrate human relationships.

Practical luxuries like water filters that deliver flavored water, $400 space heaters and high tech hand-made Loints boots have overtaken lavish gifts in Berlin, London, and Milan.

In New York, bling sports cars are off the wish-list, replaced by the Range Rover Evoque, which according to its designer, is about “health and well-being, de-stressing, functionality, sustainability, desirability and luxury.Designer jewelry from Olia seeks inspiration from mysticism. Even in India, where modern consumerism is fueling the trend to western-style gift-giving, local entrepreneurs like Chumbak are incorporating traditional religious symbolism into modern lifestyle tchotchkes.

In LA, a desire for annual memberships to organic wine clubs reveals an ongoing preoccupation with health and sustainability, mirroring the Parisian preoccupation with ‘natural’ wines and champagnes.

The popularity of Berlin’s new Wii-Lounge, Play Berlin and Brazil’s obsession with Instagram indicates an appreciation for the value of moments and memories versus materialism. In an era of fleeting and disposable digital communication and entertainment, we still crave ways of sharing fun experiences and preserving memories in a way that feels more permanent.

More than ever this Christmas, we’re looking for ways to feel physically well, spiritually and emotionally comforted and connected with our loved ones.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, from everyone at ModelPeople!

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