The most important attributes among successful high end brands are personal prestige and scarcity. High quality is expected, though status symbols aim at personal differentiation and are fueled by fashion and consumerism so they are not expected to last.
Example: German luxury cars break down often and service costs as much as buying a small car to drive around while your ultimate driving appliance is sulking.
These brands are still driven by people with clout among early adopters and late majority members, who also replace their cars often to enjoy the latest technological advancement, which is not available in the current version.
This business model increases the frequency of purchase, which creates the illusion of reliability among other luxury car drivers who see BMW & MB fans renew their vows with their favourite brand over and over.
Offering free maintenance, which actually means including the cost in the sales price, makes the cars reliable in the eyes of their owners, taking away a common objection.
High end brands differentiate their customers from the general market by providing goods and communications which are consistent with what their target group and their influencers consider special, elegant and/or sophisticated.
A high end brand must also be wanted by many who can't afford it, in order to make target customers feel privileged for being among the few who can enjoy <insert soft benefit that matters to your target customers>
High-end branding is only possible where a few shoppers from the general market can afford something better than what is purely functional. These trends generally begin with an honest commitment to quality, which attracts higher-end buyers, who in turn want the accessories in their lives to remind them of who they think they are, even if they are the only ones who believe it, for as long as they can pay for their vision of themselves.
Some high-end brands will even seriously reserve the right to refuse sales to anyone, which increases a brand's scarcity value. This is often the case in the high-end hospitality and retail industries.
Before they know it, many high-end buyers become brand champions and defend the money they spent, because their reference groups tell them that they made a good decision.
Versace and Gucci, for example, push elegance through Italian design, and positioned as a brand for people who consider themselves elegant. Of course, buyers don't need to be elegant themselves, as long as they can buy an "Elegance Kit"
There have been cases, where normally high-end brands, like Versace and Gucci try to enter the mass market and fail in both fronts, because they cease to be by sacrificing what made them a high-end brand in the first place by cutting costs to meet one or more of the price points of the general market.
Innovators and personal reference groups can provide good insights through a brand study. Unfortunately, not everyone takes the time to do this and many rely solely on having a technically superior product.
Why is scarcity important?
Because it makes most people envious, which validates a brand's superiority status, in order to raise and defend its price point. Remember that price indicates segmentation.
Patagonia, just like Joseph said, is inspired by the rough end of South America, which explains, if you look around, why you will see so many weekend warriors of all ages wearing Patagonia jackets when they meet other weekend warriors outdoor during winter. (South Americans actually do this)
Two of the better things about high end brands is that they benefit greatly from word of mouth in a smaller pool of target buyers, with less competitors taking away the attention that they crave..
There is also the fact that some of us like better quality, which was the original purpose of high end brands in the industrial era.
HOW TO DEVELOP AND NURTURE THESE ATTRIBUTES.
This should be indicated in your business model canvas and marketing plan. If you can't develop and nurture these attributes, you will never position your brand.
I would like to answer any further questions through a call. Meanwhile, you can read these articles to illustrate my answer.
Buyer Personas http://ow.ly/ByNHy
Shared Brand Ownership http://ow.ly/ByNQn