Globalization means different things to different people. To someone in a sneaker factory in Indonesia, it means a job. To someone in New York City, you might think it would mean a less expensive pair of sneakers, but it doesn’t. That is because branding, usually in the form of celebrity endorsements, can make one pair of sneakers more desirable than another. Globalization as a market force that can make a product more available at a reduced price is not a factor here, nor will it ever be when branding is an issue.
The English furniture world is no different. The amount of money a dealer puts into branding reaps rewards, but those rewards in the small market of English furniture are very tough to measure. Indeed, it is only the expansion of the marketplace that will make the market viable since people inevitably can only buy so much furniture. But the branding of English furniture itself is usually to identify the client. The furniture may be about history, quality, color or whatever, but the branding is both for and about how people see the way they live.
The American based dealer has an uphill battle in this regard. As a shopowner on the Upper East Side, you would think that I would cull customers aplenty from my immediate area. But the fact is that many people prefer the pleasure of a trip to London and its attendant costs to seeking me out. It is my job to see that they do not. But it is hard to counter the fact that as a dealer in English furniture, I am not English. That is just prejudice and it is a part of business.
In the end, I tell all my clients that, just as with a pair of sneakers, it is the product that counts. If those sneakers allow you to jump ten inches higher, by all means, buy them. If, on the other hand, there is no difference, see beyond the hype and the branding. The product, in the end, is not who else wears it, it is about your comfort wearing it. With antique furniture, the product has to be what you want to live with and how it adds pleasure to your life. That is the only bottom line.