If you abhor and shy away from goods that are “Made in China” you may find your doors closing to a large number of luxury or designer goods. What we don’t know and may never know is that there are a large number of brands that manufacture their mainstream items in factories in China, primarily to keep the costs down. The luxury business (and to a large extent, the cosmetics business) is, after all, all about the bottom line.
Here’s a book I’d recommend you read, whether or not luxury goods are your thing – Deluxe : How Luxury Lost Its Lustre. It is an eye-opener and an insight into the commercial world that governs most brands and will also help you understand to an extent, what you are buying into. I was gifted this book by a similar luxury loving friend and I’ve read it twice now. Has it made me enjoy my luxury purchases any less? Well, no. What it has done is made me more aware and perhaps, just more picky 🙂
The book isn’t quite about luxury bashing either. I initially thought so, but it is an interesting analysis of how the brands (and marketing) have changed our perceptions of luxury over the years. It is however a bit of a whine at “It never used to be/look/feel like this”
What started out as designer and true couture is now pretty much mainstream. I just need to take a walk in a mall to notice a proliferation of brands being toted about, and the proliferation of designer stores. I’m not saying its a bad thing – I sometimes am one of those toting something around 🙂 – but what I have noticed is that in recent years, the local market seems to be more aware and more likely to buy an original as opposed to a fake product, which is where the accessibility comes in. That is, to me a good thing because as this book also touches on, the counterfeit market is a huge one, and oft times goes to fund unsavoury activities.
What I enjoyed the most is the back story behind some of the biggest and most coveted brands we see today – Hermes, Prada, Dior, Chanel and naturally, Louis Vuitton all have a feature with their back story and how their image has been crafted over time to be at the pinnacle of luxury as it is perceived today. If not for the tycoons selling their vision of luxury today, some of these brands may never have survived and I think that would be a pity.
It is insightful and it opened my eyes to the marketing tactics used and in many ways, made me pay attention to how these commercial tycoons are working their sleight of hand. Buying into the fragrance and cosmetics ranges of these brands is just our first taste of this world of luxury – it is a way of allowing more people to own a piece of the brand.
As I said, reading this did not make me covet or enjoy luxury goods any less. It just made me more aware of what I’m buying into and to allow me to make that decision for myself, and to realize and perhaps even resist the marketing tactics bombarded at me. Its also made me much pickier about what I purchase and where I purchase my goods from.
Has luxury lost its lustre for me? Well I’ll say no. I never knew the luxury of the days of yore, when one stepped into hushed stores and had the designer personally attend to your every need, hence I don’t miss nor yearn for those days. The perception of luxury has changed over time, but that is just how we progress in this global age. And as is grudgingly admitted, it is also thanks to haute couture that we have stores like H&M, Topshop, Mango, Zara and the like to cater to us mere mortals who can’t afford haute couture but want something similar and wallet friendly.
So long as I’m not putting myself in the poor house nor running up a debt to rival the National Debt, I’m happy with the accessibility of luxury today because it means everyone can have a piece of it – depending on how deep your pocket is. I think a bit of luxury is better than no luxury at all.
Do you enjoy your bit of luxury? Have you read Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre and if you did, did you enjoy it? It was a bit whiny in parts but overall was an interesting read.