Crossing the Blues

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

EXPOSE': Deluxe-How Luxury Lost Its Luster

For those who just LIVE for the newest in Louis Vuitton or Gucci, you'll find this quite interesting. There was a time in history that these luxury brands diligently created leather bags and accessories by hand, custom to order. Most luxury good brands that we know today were started by one-man or one-woman shops that sold beautiful handcrafted pieces. Today nothing exists of its beginning but their name. They are run by business tycoons and use marketing to sell the image of a "luxurious life" but many of the products are mass-produced in the same manner of the bag you just copped from Target. So why do you still drop the cost of a month's mortgage for a bag? Are you brainwashed? With the help of fashion mags, luxury brands have created this phenomenom called the "handbag of the season" that causes FRENZY....drooling, coveting, and waiting lists a mile long.....just for the bag to be passe' after carrying it a week and a new "handbag of the season" to be pushed in our faces.
At one point luxury brands denoted a superior shopping experience with private viewing and seamstresses on hand to custom fit you. It denoted superior quality. It denoted social class and a history of tradition. But in this day and age, this is NOT the case. Your Louis Speedy falls apart as quickly as your Coach. You get no private viewings or special attention at the mall and anyone willing to shell out the cash can wear the same bag as you. OR they can commit the ultimate style sin and rock a fake.
So why do you still buy into it?
In the 1960s LUXURY had gone out of fashion. It was all about free-love and hippie-ism. But the 1980s introduced us to something we'd never seen before: The Tycoon WOMAN. Unmarried, successful, with tons of disposable income. She hit Europe on the weekends and bought clothes and accessories that cost more than her parents's home. American corporate tycoons and financiers saw the potential and bought up these old luxury brands from their founders or incompetent heirs and set their sites on YOU. They understand that people want what they can not have and created an entry into this world of exclusivity by putting these logos on everything from perfumes to eye glasses just so the average joe can feel like he/she has "arrived!"
From the NY Times:
Back in the late 1980s, the Prada backpack — made out of black or tobacco-brown parachute fabric trimmed in leather — became the “it” bag for many would-be fashionistas. It was hip, modern, lightweight and at $450 expensive, but not as expensive as the stratospherically priced bags made by Herm√®s and Chanel. According to the fashion reporter Dana Thomas, that Prada backpack was also “the emblem of the radical change that luxury was undergoing at the time: the shift from small family businesses of beautifully handcrafted goods to global corporations selling to the middle market” — a shift from exclusivity to accessibility, from an emphasis on tradition and quality to an emphasis on growth and branding and profits.

“The luxury industry has changed the way people dress,” she writes. “It has realigned our economic class system. It has changed the way we interact with others. It has become part of our social fabric. To achieve this, it has sacrificed its integrity, undermined its products, tarnished its history and hoodwinked its consumers. In order to make luxury ‘accessible,’ tycoons have stripped away all that has made it special.

“Luxury has lost its luster.” (Taken from the pages of Deluxe)

Learn more about the history of the luxury industry and all the smoke and mirrors that exist today to keep you in the poor house below and then ask yourself the hard questions: Why do I need a logo to feel adequate? If I want one-of-a-kind handcrafted pieces why don't I support local artisans? What other brainwashing am I a victim of?

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas