It appears the days of conspicuous consumption have become more subtle. At least according to this article on the NY Times website.
Rather than rely on obvious logos, expensive products use more discreet markers, such as distinctive design or detailing. High-end consumers prefer markers of status that are not decipherable by the mainstream. These signal group identity only to others with the connoisseurship to recognize their insider standing.
While I haven’t had the opportunity to read the soon-to-be published paper, a few things come to mind.
First, by removing the logo and focusing only on subtle markers, a sort of “secret handshake” has been established for a club composed mostly of truly wealthy individuals to show off their wealth to one another, thus preventing the lower and middle-classes from participating at all.
Second, the no logo approach and focus on design may serve as a way to signal out counterfeit products.
Third, a Ferrari’s logo still carries its weight in prestige despite any subtle markers designers may add to it.