Friday, May 21, 2010

Buying Status or Luxury?

The other day I was up on 47th street and there was a little crowd knotted up on the street. I worked my way through the group, almost all guys, with their cameras out. 

And there it was; the most amazing apple-green,  iridescent,  two-tone Lamborghini.  The color was out-of-this-world.  I wondered where it was headed,  it had non-resident 20 day temporary tags on it. (Who knew there were such things?  I rarely drive & never in the city any more, so I am well out of the loop here.) It was funny to see it parked in a crowded business district in the middle of the morning, very incongruous,  leaving the impression at it wanted to get into a traffic jam really fast!  (It certainly was creating one very quickly!)

A beautiful vehicle,  fast - and always limited edition, since Lamborghini makes well under 3000 cars in a year.  I do hope it's going somewhere it can cut loose a little!

This is luxury & status,  with that color-bumping it up even more!  A very precision crafted, finely designed, hand-assembled & finished and renowned for  speed & performance.  Each one is test driven on real roads when completed.
So,  if you are able to buy one of these,  you are certainly getting what you pay for….

Then there's fashion.
Unfortunately, all too often the luxury/status/designer/label thing has become just another term for for big marketing & big manufacturing.

Case in point: Here is a used fabric Chanel Camellia.  Just a plain fabric one.  A bit beat. "Pre-owned".


It sold for $249.00.   I don't believe this variation of a Chanel camellia goes for much more than $300.00 new.  It's the tweed and raffia ones that run up to $600.00. Those need to be hand-stitched, at least to some extent.  This one - not so much.  Probably hundreds, if not thousands of these get made. 
There are flower makers here in NYC who do beautiful work of this sort,  mostly by hand & at a much higher caliber than this particular flower,  but they could never demand the price.  Meanwhile the real French flower specialists do work like this:


Needless to say these were not priced like Chanel,  having no "label",  just impeccable quality.

I realize this may not be the best comparison,  Chanel does have a resale value!  There are many "status" companies who market very, very mass produced items as status/exclusive/luxury when the only thing status/exclusive/luxury about them is the price… 

It's unfortunate that in fashion, particularly,  marketing of the label  has become so very confused with the actual quality & exclusivity,  and at the same time it sort of nurtures insecurity…this came into scary clear focus with this article on fashion bloggers,  and the keeping up with the jones-es pressure...Ugh!  I am hopeful that we are starting to move away from this, with so many choices and so many talented, independent creators now easily able to reach their audience.  The dynamic is evolving! 

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2 comments:

  1. "Ugh! I am hopeful that we are starting to move away from this, with so many choices and so many talented, independent creators now easily able to reach their audience."

    I definitely agree! There are thousands of insanely talented people selling their wares at a fraction of the luxury market cost... and so often you can get things custom made & designed for you to boot...isn't that the better sign of luxury?

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  2. What's interesting is that the connection between what you pay for something vs. WHERE the price you pay actually goes, has gotten so lost. With custom-made (in the true sense) & artisan made goods, the cost is usually a great deal more reflective of what you are actually getting - More of it goes directly into the product so that at any price-point it is an inherently better value.

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