Monday, 28 January 2013

Luxury Brands: What We Getting for Our Money?  

Photo Chanel Couture 

With the sales almost over and hopefully all the bills paid, if we have any money left over our minds wander to the new season (if we don't have any money we have our fantasies of what we would buy if we could). Depending on how we shop we can flip through a magazine, browse the Net, window shop, peruse the rails of a department store on the way to meet a friend in the coffee shop. Whether or not we have the money, our usual first thought is check out the big designers, for inspiration and form a check-list for our own forthcoming seasonal fashion-ability, if for nothing else.

However, not all products from major designers are made equal or share the same star status as the final gown on this season's catwalk. We are funny creatures and although we might desire to wear a backless, leather and lace, full-length evening gown to the supermarket on a Saturday morning, what we are more likely to invest our money in, are logo-ed jeans or tee-shirts, or a pair of monogrammed flats or a canvas shopper. That tee might look the same as we could actually buy at the supermarket, along with tins of tomatoes, but in fantasy, it's as far away as pomme frites are from chips. It's as though the tee-shirt announces 'my mega-bucks, evening gown is at the dry cleaners', it says 'I may be in a supermarket but normally I shop in Bond St or on Madison', it says 'I love shopping but not for tomatoes'. Okay it doesn't, it says, 'I went to Bond St as a tourist and bought a souvenir ' or 'my BF went to designer X but all I got was this lousy tee-shirt. I must remember to dig out my Medusa-head, Versace vest sometime and show you all!

Most large brands have different tiers of products. Lifestyle and commercial lines are relatively cheap to produce and tend to 'advertise' the brand, these are usually mass produced with very little to do with artisans, quality control of those products, whether a tee-shirt or a canvas bag, is about the placement of the logo followed by durability (people who buy logos, buy them to wear) but as we all know the mark-up is huge, they are not called the 'commercial' lines for nothing. Then there are the main line classic pieces that are created so that they don't frighten the more shy souls away. Although they are not out of the ordinary in design, they are more labour intensive, as skins and materials are carefully selected, quality control is high and things are often hand-finished and checked many times before hitting the stores, these pieces are not only intended to be worn they are expected to last, these are usually described by your ever-helpful sales-associate as 'classics' or if they're desperate 'investment pieces'. 

Then there are the catwalk, fashion, directional or seasonal pieces that are so scrutinised and written about they have to be able to seduce, and encourage discernible gasps of awe. Quality control is usually stringent but they are created more to put the design in design-er and retrench the mega-profile of the luxury nature of the brand. And then...drum role please... there are the exceptional pieces that have to make even jaded regular customers and fashion insiders gasp, whether by an exceptional exotic skin or decorative aspect, there will be so few examples of these pieces you will be lucky to see one in a flagship store. If you can obtain one of these 'pieces' either the 'only 3 ever made' or 'made to order' backless, leather and lace, full-length evening gown with fresh water pearl and onyx beading or a white crocodile and sterling silver evening minaudiere buy it, these are the real investment pieces, however much it costs is probably how much it cost to produce, and don't bother with the supermarket for a year, food is fattening and tomatoes are so over-rated.