Grace with her Hermes bag via

There has never been a time when we've seen so many signs that we are witnessing the slow death of what is perceived to be the luxury good. Luxury goods were, once upon a time, the provence of the truly Rich and the well travelled. The average person had no idea who Balenciaga, Worth, Chanel, and Dior were, except perhaps if they glimpsed them in the pages of Vogue, and gradually  (some many years down the track) saw the designs trickle through to the mass market. If you wanted actual Dior, you had to travel to Paris, make an appointment at the atelier (and you were not guaranteed being granted an appointment as they vetted who was allowed to wear their designs), you'd have your outfit made to measure and then hand over very large amounts of money to pay for your one of a kind threads. Similarly, if you wanted a Gucci handbag, you would visit Florence, Tiffany jewellery - you'd visit New York. These things had an aura attached to them due to sheer inaccessibility, their quality and craftsmanship, and the requirement that you were in the know to actually recognise these things in the first place.


the modern take - Naomi's favourite celeb Kim Kardashian with her super chic Kelly Bag via 


Not anymore. With today's mass consumption of the luxury good, and the celebritisation of the brands behind many iconic fashion items, inaccessibility is no longer a problem - click and you can buy it. Or just walk into a shopping mall in Melbourne or Texas or any other large-ish city in the world and get your Prada handbag (Adelaide is getting a Tiffany's for crying out loud - who needs to go to 5th Avenue now?).  We are now in an era where the average person on the street will recognise the Chanel logo, thanks to the relentless advertising and heavily logo'd goods Karl has pumped out for the past 30 years.

Karl's laughing all the way to the bank with this creation via 


A couple of weeks ago I read an interesting article buried deep in the Business section of The Australian newspaper (syndicated from the WSJ - article here). The cost of a Chanel handbag has risen 70% since 2009. This is, they claim, to offset the rising cost of producing the handbag. The article cites that Chinese wages have increased 67% in the corresponding period. The only problem with this, is that these handbags are supposedly manufactured in France, by French workers. The French have not seen big pay increases since 2009, as France is fairly depressed economically. Additionally, the Euro has fallen against most other currencies during this period. So, in fact, the price of Chanel handbags should have fallen, rather than risen. Unless they are indeed made, or largely made, in China (in which case the workers are probably being paid say $2.70 an hour now, instead of $1.50 in 2009, which would hardly justify a $2,700 price increase on the bag).



Largely, the large luxury good companies are trying to make their bags scarce, and attempting to make their bag exclusive by pricing out the middle classes, and this has been the real driver behind the big increases in the cost of the bags. The price we pay in no way actually reflects the quality or craftsmanship or the cost of producing the item, nor in fact reflects its exclusivity. 

And who exactly are these eager customers willing to pay hand over fist for the increased price? Walk into any luxury branded store in the world, and you will see a sea of Asian salespeople behind the store counters. This is because the biggest growth area, and the biggest and most loyal customers, come from the East, where there is an insatiable appetite for Western luxury goods. Many of the stores ration their goods out to the Asian tourists who clamour to bring home a souvenir from their holiday and threaten to clean out a store like a plague of locusts (because nothing says "I've been to Australia" like a Hermes bag) - there is a one bag only policy in many Chanel stores around the world.


This point was further hammered home when I was reading an article about the venerable English tailor Gieves & Hawkes, of Savile Row fame. They hold warrants to make suits for Prince Charles, amongst others, and have a 200 plus year history of outfitting English gentlemen with their military uniforms and city suits. Unfortunately, despite holding the royal warrants, and despite manufacturing their bespoke made to measure suits in exactly the same way as they had for past few centuries, they were losing money. In 2002, the Gieves family finally sold the business to a Chinese entrepreneur. It's been turned around, and in spectacular fashion.

Their first order of business was to run things essentially on dual levels. You can still get a bespoke, made to measure suit in the Savile Row store from the tailors that still work on the premises (they can make a maximum of 800 suits a year), but now there is an enormous Ready to Wear division, which has put the business back in the black. The suits are not, however, made in London... or even the UK (although they still have the Made in Britain sign on the website, confusingly). They are now made in China, and are being marketed at the Chinese and the Asian market - Gieves and Hawkes opened 113 stores across China alone, capturing a large swathe of the fast growing aspirational Chinese upper-middle classes. Slick marketing, such as their Como web video hone in on this - watch it and see if you don't want this life too.






There's just one problem with this. It's just not Gieves & Hawkes as it was any more. Theses are suits made in China, for the Chinese, and have no relation to Savile Row (they note in the article that they have even had to change the fit of the suits slightly, as the Chinese prefer a boxy suit cut). It's now just a brand name with luxury cachet given by the Royal Warrants (but for how long, given that this is not a British company any longer) and the 200 year history, and a very slick website. By running a two tiered system of sales, they may be making a commercial success of the business, but they've removed the actual genesis of what gives the brand the cachet that it once had - location and exclusivity. They run the risk of the actual bespoke suit part of the business losing customers due to the new mass production rendering the brand common, and in turn the Asian customers at some point realising they have been conned into paying through the nose for brands that are not actually luxury goods.


For surely this is what will one day happen. The irony that the West is producing luxury goods that are gobbled up by the eager East, who in turn produce the cheap mass produced goods for the West surely will become evident?

And what exactly is a luxury good these days? Surely a bag, or shoes or ready to wear clothes that are (in actual fact) manufactured in large quantities, and sold in boutiques located all over the world is not that luxurious? It's just expensive, and not exceptionally good value for money. The mood in the West over the past 10 years has started to shift to brand authenticity, heritage, and quality. Those things cannot be mass produced - for that reason they are, in fact, luxurious. Hype, excitement, the new and the latest - all things associated with the large luxury goods brands (most of which are now owned by large conglomerates, rather than the privately run family businesses they started out as) is used to shift large volumes of perfumes/ bags/ shoes/ trinkets. Mostly this is gobbled up by those who can't really afford it (I once read a blog where the girl writing it - a college student in the USA - was saving $100/ month toward a Chanel handbag. She had to work to put herself through college, and was accruing large amounts of student loans during her period of study, but wanted to buy herself the bag as an end of college gift to herself after saving for four years).

So is this the beginning of the end of the luxury good industry we are witnessing.... and what does luxury mean to you?

51 comments:

  1. It does seem like the beginning of the end doesn't it! Though I have to say I love my LV bag that MrBP bought for me in Paris, it was made in France, it is very high quality and is a constant reminder of our trip and the day he bought it for me. A very nice gift, a luxury. Another luxury is Brora cashmere as I know it was made in Scotland and the colours and designs really stand out in my wardrobe.
    Some of these brands which are playing on their heritage yet producing their goods very cheaply, it seems so shady and like trickery. Even Barbour is doing this now, they advertise as a British brand yet they don't make their coats there anymore. Hunter boots: same.
    Have you read the book "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster" by Dana Thomas? It's fascinating, I think you would enjoy it if you haven't already read it.
    Great post Heidi.xox

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    1. I think Brora really is luxury - it's quiet, it doesn't have BRORA written on the front so that people know what you're wearing. You know what it is, but you've bought it because it's about how it looks and feels and functions, and where it's made and how it's made, rather than just because it has a flash showroom and someone else might think you're better because of it.
      I do feel conflicted over the luxury good brands though... there is something about nice leather goods that I find hard to pass by, and while a lot of it is completely overpriced, they do look nice....
      I'm going to order a copy of that book - I've been meaning to read it for ages (although the pile of books to read on my bedside table is huge at the moment!) xx

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  2. Very interesting and thoughtful take on the luxury goods industry today. Would really like to know if Chanel bags and costume jewellery etc are made in France as they like to claim - or in China?

    Admit to loving some versions of the CC logo, but only the more subtle and gorgeous ones like those in pic 4.

    Why does KK need a handbag the size of an elephant? Because it's Hermes - and it's big! Bigger obviously is better. Personally think it looks ludicrous. Grace Kelly's bag had such style, chic and class. This version is absurd. Hermes, VL and Karl are adept at catering for a particular, rich element with the "show-of bags" as many French women call them. Karl is so clever and has been so successful that I think he sometimes now just likes to shock and have a bit of a giggle at some of his clients. Such super arrogance!

    Sad to think of the girl saving like mad despite her mounting fee debts to buy herself a Chanel. Kind of charming in a way but symbolises what her early working life will be about. Our son worked in part time jobs while at Uni, lived at home and saved every cent he could. But the difference was his savings were to build enough money to invest in the share market. (He was doing a degree that included units on investment/financial/market analysis.) Being so young he was most interested then in high tech companies, so in the early days of the high tech boom he bought into floats and was able to sell out (well before the tech bust) when shares he'd bought for 50 cents had zoomed up the charts. Of course he paid capital gains tax but was still well ahead and this enabled him to buy his first house while still young. The male equivalents of the Chanel bag fancier were into cars and sound systems and many of them still haven't been able to invest either in property or the share market. Imagine this girl whose priority is a Chanel bag will probably spend every spare cent she earns on acquiring more luxury goods, hoping she meets a rich Mr Right. It's very Gen Y.
    Love the pics of one of our favourite places, Lake Como. So beautiful. The Villa del Balbianello is so worth visiting, spectacular location, beautiful gardens, used in movies like Star Wars and Casino Royale. The last owner was famous as a mountain climber and expeditioner and inherited the family ownership of the Standa chain which he sold off. Seems to be much celebrated but on looking closely at exhibits in his personal museum at the top of the house, there were a few elements that were rather unsettling and made us wonder about him. When we asked a couple of questions, the guides became very worried looking and cagey and hurried us out.
    Interesting about Gieves and Hawkes too. Cheers, Pammie xx

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    1. Your son was v. clever Pammie! I remember reading a young guy who was an investment expert talking about his finances, saying he had (for his age - late 20s) a lot in the stock market and owned a house, but drove a 1980's Toyota with a coathanger for an aerial. He said a car was a waste of money due to depreciation, and also said it was a good way to vet his dates - if a girl lost interest in him because of his lack of fancy car, he knew she was not the one for him.
      That bag is hilarious! Honestly, the size of some of the bags on the market at the moment... what are these women carrying around with them? Lunch? A entire change of clothes?
      Loved the Lake Como video. I showed it to Mr AV to gauge his reaction to it (a sort of test of the average male psyche). He said he'd like to go and stay there. But he didn't feel inclined toward buying a suit. xxx

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    2. Yes, v proud of him. He learned a lot from G who's strongly agin wasting money on cars too. Had to laugh at your description! G's had his Mazda for over 10 years and till going strong. Mine's about 5. We tend to buy, look after and keep till it comes to end of the road, safety and reliability-wise. A's car is slightly sporty but he's had it for years and isn't about to buy latest model. He's worked out that between them he and his Dad have saved well over $150,000 over the years by not buying prestige cars and upgrading every couple of years. A's now investing savings in commercial real estate. Very savvy about money and investments - he's an accountant and financial analyst/investment adviser. Many years ago he broke it off with a girl whose family cared more about which mail code you lived in and kept pressuring him to change locations/accept jobs they offered. But he preferred to work for himself and build up his own businesses - didn't wanted to be beholden to anyone, specially his girlfriend's family. His guru is Warren Buffet and his Dad.
      Yes, KK's bag is hilarious - would probably carry another whole outfit, shoes etc as well as magazines and enough cosmetics to sink Titanic. But probably has only a lipstick and mirror, phone and some tissues because of way's she's carrying it. Probably doesn't need to carry a wallet because someone else would always pick up the tab.

      Lake Como is gorgeous. Think you'd both love it! We stayed in Varenna, picturesque and pretty, though don't think fashionable. But that doesn't matter to us. Our room looked out directly onto the lake and the outdoor dining area too (great food, incl. fish from lake). So beautiful and v relaxing. Sadly didn't see George.

      One of G's favourite outfits is a Pierre Balmain sports coat (made in France) that I bought from an Op. shop for $6.00 - it had a small hole that I had invisibly mended and it's as good as new. Later found the matching tie, must have been from the same PB collection. Also Op Shop (different one), $2.00. Still like real luxury goods but prefer Op Shop prices! Cheers, Pammie xx

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  3. Great post Heidi, I think that a huge part of the problem is also that a lot of people want to be seen with expensive brands and don't even care about luxury, it's more about perceived status for them.
    I am shocked at the price of Chanel bags now, I had to revise the price of mine to the insurance after the break in, there's no way I could afford one now - I don't much care for them anyway but still.

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    1. I couldn't believe it when I read how much they'd gone up - and like you was shocked to read they were $4,700 now. I still had them in my mind at around the low $2,000's.
      Although stats like that will make a lot of women think that they are "investments" I suppose! xx

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    2. I just googled Australian handbags ..there are quite a few Aust. companies out there. one called Convict actually makes their products here as well

      There are a few shops in Sydney that sell locally made bits and pieces , homewares, clothes, art , jewellery etc ..and there aren't thousands of the same thing..I dont understand wanting something that everyone else has..though when I was younger I did want what I was told to want.

      Those marketing people have really earned their money, they have done a great job

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  4. What a fabulous article that wouldn't be amiss in a national publication. Well put forward Heidi!

    Such a complex and layered issue. I used to work in luxury marketing so this is something I always have been intrigued by and always looking for signs and you have listed many great points. The Asian market is no doubt a huge market with the biggest increases but there are so many types of markets over there. Old money who used to travel from decades back like the Japanese and HK'ers and then there is China and India who are the newest entries. I have a friend who worked at Chanel and the clients themselves asked for price hikes to weed out people they didn't like seeing wearing the latest Chanel bags! Therefore it gets a little complicated and a whole level of sociology and psychology enters into the matter.

    I must say that I already have several handbags that are considered luxurious but I hardly wear them. ( That is my own personal set of issues living in London etc) But now if my mother or husband asks what I want as a Xmas or bday present I have asked for furniture or a holiday instead of another bag.
    But luxury items are changing boundaries - in London a Kelly bag just doesn't cut it anymore now that most people seem to have one - it has to be a special edition or an exotic leather to really demonstrate any status. So the parameters constantly change. But for me luxury in terms of material goods is art, china, and books. But most of all luxury is doing whatever the heck I want! Great post xx

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    1. I think the Chinese and Indian market aspect are quite fascinating... it is so much about psychology as you say - I must say I find it very off putting seeing celebrities with the bags... I don't want to buy them because of that (reminds me of buying my wedding dress, and going into a bridal salon in Melbourne, where they pulled out a book of photos of all their (local) celebrity brides in the same dresses I was trying on. No thanks!).
      Agree with you on true luxury - financial freedom, and the ability to do as you please! xx

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  5. Really great article Heidi ...if there is anything that looks cheaper and nastier than a pink Birkin I dont know what it is.,,as for the orange huge Kelly! apropos of its owner I suppose you've seen the new US Vogue?

    Your descriptions of the "name" shops is spot on ,,well certainly in Sydney...last time I saw Chanel shop the mannequin in the window was all scratched and the top she was modelling was half off and a nipple was showing ..tackeee and bored looked young salesgirls behind the counter of an empty shop

    Luxury to me is something that is unusual, one of a kind ..and cost has nothing to do with it

    BTW read of a nasty crime in Adelaide ..four men kidnapped a 14 year old boy and only received fine of $1,000 each, the fine for parking in a non stopping zone in NSW is over $300 ..doesnt seem right does it ?

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    1. I haven't heard of that one smr, but I don't get the local newspaper as it is full of stories like that, and I find them depressing. We did get the Sunday paper thrown over the fence by mistake today, so I'll get my fix of the local stories this morning!
      Very funny re the Chanel store! The new US Vogue is no doubt flying on its way to me due to my soon to be cancelled subscription. Cannot believe that Kim is on the cover. Yuck. xx

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  6. It is interesting Heidi - I think that not only has it impacted the brands themselves, it has actually created havoc in your typical consumer, who is now chasing things they never would otherwise!

    For me, luxury is not having something made - a piece of furniture, a gift, an article of clothing. I want a pink silk skirt for summer and am now looking for a pattern and seamstress.

    Most of all, however, luxury for me is now defined as time for self and happy interactions with family and friends. Oh, and a good night's sleep!

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    1. Oh a good nights sleep!! Yes! that is true luxury for me too...
      Agree with you on having things made, that is luxurious to have something that fits you or your home perfectly. xx

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  7. Great post, Heidi! I was reminded of that book "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre" by Dana Thomas, as she talks about many of the same issues. I believe much can be attributed to how modern society is based on capitalism, consumerism, and the belief that all of us somehow have a democratic right (entitlement?) to purchase these luxury goods.

    I can certainly relate to the story of the college student who is madly saving for the Chanel bag. In my 20s, when I was a grad student, I coveted Prada and Louis Vuitton. I remember saving for a little LV purse, and being so proud when I finally got it. Now that I'm older (and hopefully a little wiser), these big name luxury brands don't have as much of a draw. As you mentioned, some the cachet has worn off now that they are so ubiquitous. Nowadays, I'd rather buy something that is really special to me, and has a design that I really love. I think real luxury is beautifully designed goods made from the best materials, made by artists and craftsmen who are at the top of their field. It doesn't have to be a big name like Hermes - there are lots of local artists who are producing fantastic stuff.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post!!

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    1. I think I remember you recommending that book a while ago Louise, and I must get my hands on a copy! I was talking with my husband about this democratic right to consumer goods the other day - here in Australia, where we like to have a flat class system (or like to think that we do) the average person things they're entitled to all the trappings of the upper classes, and become extremely upset when they can't have it...
      I relate to the Chanel bag story too - I have that Chanel belt I bought when I was 14 and saved up my babysitting money for 10 months. I look at it with very mixed feelings these days. xx

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  8. Was just saying that I would prefer to spend on experiences rather than stuff.

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    1. Well, I think it's been proven that people feel greater happiness in their lives if they spend money on experiences like travel/ concerts/ etc, rather than material goods like a new car or bag or something else. xx

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  9. Such an interesting post, Heidi! I was thinking about the meaning of luxury just yesterday. There was an article in the Guardian about how Bruno Guillon (Mulberry CEO) has resigned having lost the company millions. Apparently he has raised the price of bags by about 200%, so pricing out almost all the mass market!
    Walking around Sydney city yesterday, in all the 'luxury' stores were hoards of Asian tourists. M commented on it and asked me why. It was hard to explain, but I think I'll get her to read this post.
    Luxury to me is something made in small amounts with love and excellent attention to detail. Some small local labels are sort of luxury to me.
    The only 'luxury' label items I own are some Prada shoes, Prada coat and a couple of old Mulberry bags.
    I don't get Chanel bags at all.... All that quilting worries me. Ditto most of those other 'it' bags. They're so overdone and there are so many copies that they just look tacky to me.
    Have you heard of Mansur Gavriel? They are two friends who make these lovely, simple bags that have suddenly become super popular. I was hoping to get a tan bucket bag - they're reasonably priced - $550 or so, but they're sold out almost worldwide! Perhaps that's the new luxury: limited pieces made by small companies, not massive multiple-national chain stores!

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    1. Mulberry is such a weird company now - I remember it when I lived in London 15 years ago, and it was so different. More about homewares and a certain shabby English aesthetic...they had nice cushions I remember. Now it's about bags. I was in Melbourne on Friday, and walking through all those stores - they all decide when I walk in I'm not their target market and tend to ignore me... Asian customer walks in and they're all over them (to be fair, I'm not going to be buying a couple of bags and a coat etc etc so they're probably justified in that). I find all the strangely oversized bags bizarre at the moment. Who wants to carry a suitcase around all day with their purse and keys rattling around at the bottom?
      Interesting comment about the cheaper bag - think you're right. xx

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    2. Interesting re the Asian tourists in all those shops ,,have noticed myself, though the largest luxury store I have ever seen was PRADA in Shanghai

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    3. Have a couple of Mulberry bags bought before they got rid of the woman who'd been with them for some years and hired Bruno. I find them really practical (the Mulberry Alexa) as they're cross body, good quality leather and well made, also the logo is v subtle. One's a beautiful pink, the other's a colour between dark brown and chestnut. Very happy with them. So sorry to hear what they've done to their brand. Pammie xx

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  10. Well written and thought provoking.
    My luxury would be having my clothes designed and made by a local dressmaker.
    The same goes with our furniture.
    The thought of paying for "names" doesn't work for me or my budget.
    I find the price of "name" accessories outrageous and would much prefer to use local artisans.
    Just saying.
    Dee

    At least it is helping the

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    1. I think, given that most of the high fashion now is not actually made to measure, having things done to suit you exactly is a true luxury.
      Agree with you about the home too - crafted things give a lot more meaning in a home, and add a layering that gives personality. These things often don't actually cost that much either. xx

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  11. Interesting post Heidi.

    I think the luxury brands are now really marketing a "feeling" of being special and a little cut above. (Often the goods are no better quality than a decent small local leather manufacturer.) Hence the visibility of the branding. Whether it is a red sole of a shoe or the entwined Cs there are definitely those that refuse to buy any quality good that isn't instantly recognisable. And to a certain extent I say good luck to them if they can afford it. My worry is more the fact that getting that "feeling" from an object is missing the point and also starts a train of needing more and more stuff to define yourself. Stupid, pointless and just a little bit sad.

    I have a friend who could easily afford anything she wanted really and an au pair she had was amazed that she didn't spend her days shopping and kitted out in designer gear from head to toe! My lovely friend thought it was hilarious.

    The Louis Vuitton group have just bought RM Williams - ironic that a luxury brand have taken over what was started as a work boot/saddle manufacturer....

    Loved the video - would quite like to spend my afternoon there with those lovely young men. They could bring me drinks on the terrace. Instead I shall spend the afternoon helping The Farmer burn windrows.

    Take care.

    xxxx

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    1. I hadn't heard that RM's has been bought out by LVMH group. That's really sad. And ironic as you say. No doubt they see the next Ugg Australia windfall as the stockman's boot.
      I think a lot of the people that buy the bits and pieces from luxury goods stores can't really afford it, and a lot of the stores just use the entry level items as their cash cows - like all the sterling silver bits and pieces from Tiffanys. Not everyone is able to buy a large diamond ring from there, but a bracelet or key ring is within reach.
      Funny about your friend - she is holding true to the adage that you can't judge a book by its cover.
      Hope the burning went well! xx

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  12. What a wonderful post Heidi, thank-you. I was just thinking about this subject when I was in Singapore a couple of months ago. Every single shopping centre (except the wonderful Lucky Plaza) had a full set of Chanel, Prada, Tiffanys, Bulgari etc and very often Hermes would be there too. All I could think of was, how many bags these shops must stock and sell and that there is NO way that some exquisite little atelier in France was churning these items out. It was the final straw for me, there is no way I want to be the sort of person who falls for the hype and pays big money for it too.

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    1. Agreed - they'd have made most of Paris a factory turning out Chanel, Hermes, YSL, Dior etc etc! Someone I know mentioned how it would be great to have a Prada in Adelaide (after they announced Tiffany was opening) and I said I thought it would be terrible. She thought I was nuts, but I was trying to explain to her that if they open Prada etc in Adelaide, it's definitely not a luxury good...

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  13. Great post! Can't help being reminded of that song - The best things in life are free. I prefer experiences to luxury consumer goods. Having said that I do like quality furniture and homewares but even then there's a limit to what I will pay for something that I may be sick of in five years. Recently purchased a summer dress and whenever I wear it I get compliments. It has a sort of Missoni look about the fabric. It's from Target! I guess I'm not so much into cache items. They don't make me happy. I can see that if you 'moved in those circles' you may have a different view though. It all comes back to peer pressure. Tonkath

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    1. I love quality with clothes and homewares too, but agree... I have my limit. And certain things I'm not willing to spend much money on. Well done on your Target dress!! One of my friends is good at doing things like that - I'll compliment her on her shoes thinking they're designer as they look so good, and find out they're from Wittner! xx

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  14. You made me laugh Heidi.... and to think I was saving up for that Chanel backpack!!! I was sacrificing having an au pair for several months for that. Figured in a years time...

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    1. Oh I could just imagine you with that Chanel backpack! Perfect for your study books, to give that student chic look...! xx

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  15. love this post.

    My idea of luxury at the moment would be to live without stress and worry.

    It changes according to the time of my life I'm in.

    That oversized bag looks heavy. xx

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    1. Certainly to live without stress and worry is a luxury.
      I think the bag makes her look strangely scaled - a bit Willy Wonker like, she looks like a little Oompa Loompa carrying it. xx

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  16. Hi Heidi and all. Remember in grade school and the exclusive popular girl's lunch table? Well in my opinion all this luxury crap is just the grown up (if you can even call it grown up because it is seems very immature to me) version of that stupid lunch table. I thankfully realized how stupid I was to want a seat at that table rather than have the luxury of accepting myself and thanking God for making me a "status symbol" in His eyes. Thanks for letting me share this and Heidi thanks for the great post.

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    1. I've found the comments so interesting on this post! I think that with some maturity I'm just not wanting that stuff as much as I did when I was younger too - there's a difference between branding and quality. I wrote a post early last year about my inner conflict with my 24 year old Chanel belt. I rarely wear it because I feel it says something about myself I don't really like or identify with now. Back when I bought it with my 10 months of babysitting money (sigh), no one really recognised the logo! How times have changed. If you haven't seen the tv series "Status Anxiety" by Alain de Botton, I highly recommend it. So interesting, and so entertaining and thought provoking. xx

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    2. Thanks Heidi, I will check out the series.

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  17. Luxury to me is the thought of our tiny bach by the sea in NZ. (so why don't we give it all up and go and live there, I keep asking myself) The oversized kelly looks like one of my kids morphed it. I just saw that new campaign by Karl in the supermarket and I keep asking myself - who is buying all this high-end casual stomach bearing sneaker stuff. it's young kids, where do they get the money?

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    1. I think they live at home for a long time. Seriously. I was reading a newspaper article where they interviewed a 27 year old who lived in Adelaide with her parents. She thought nothing of buying an $850 dress for a normal Saturday night out, had loads of designer handbags and shoes. And worked full time earning good money. All she had was a car (no savings, no flat or house). xx

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    2. At the Op Shop where I volunteer we have lots of donations of evening dresses originally bought for teenagers' school formals. Most appear to be worn once only! Great that the girls or their parents pass them on to us. But think of the money spent! Most probably cost hundreds. We sell them for around $20 each depending on brand, quality and condition. The really special ones sell, but most young teenagers want a brand new prom dress and won't even consider the idea of wearing an excellent condition pre-loved gown.
      These formals are so competitive. It's old hat to turn up in just a limo. Parents hire helicopters, Rolls Royces, vintage cars, horse and carriages etc. So much money for a 15-16 year old's special night. Parents are really setting them up for an ongoing life of conspicuous consumption. When I was young a lot of girls went to deb balls. My Dad was against it, not because of the money but because of what it stood for. Girls being done up and paraded for the marriage market. He brought me up to aim at a good degree and a career and independence with marriage later. I shared his views. But then met Mr Right and got married young anyway. Pammie xx

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    3. with Sydney rents so high ..my son 22 and part time student/work is still at home ..a 2 bedroom flat in my area about 600 a week

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    4. Your Op Shop sounds like an absolute Gold Mine Pammie- what with the Hermes scarves and cheap designer evening gowns... I will have to check it out when I next make it to Canberra!


      It's understandable in cities like Sydney that younger people are living at home for a lot longer smr... but Adelaide is not Sydney, a 27 year old earning a normal salary can afford a flat somewhere reasonable. Unfortunately in this case I think the family home was very comfortable, and the attraction to designer goods too strong for the girl in question!

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  18. Continuing on in the same theme, there was a fascinating article in the Australian recently about the phenomenal sales growth of the shirt maker, Charles Tyrwhitt. Now if ever there were a fabulous example of how to market something which isn't,,,and to milk the illusion of "English tailoring" when the goods are actually nearly all "imported"….this company would be it.

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    1. I read that too!! Mr AV and I were talking about how the cost of a shirt has dropped so much thanks to companies like that. I think that particular company has been successful in marketing the English fit shirt without the price tag to match... I don't think Thomas Pink shirts are now made in Britain either (but they're still expensive), but the same fit/ quality is present in these other companies shirts as well. Why a basic shirt used to be so expensive was always a bit beyond me (remember Herringbone before they went bankrupt? The shirts were $180 and that was ten years ago) xx

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  19. Great timing to say what so many others are thinking! I'm not sure if someone else has mentioned it, but there are EU laws about the percentage of a good that must be finished in an EU country in order to read 'Made in...' Which is how they get around the manufacturing in China part. I have had the opportunity to buy some very pricey brand name stuff in the past and I always baulk in the end because I just can't see the value for me. Like a lot of others, luxury for me has become something else....freedom, time to myself, a great nights sleep, a perfect coffee, great books, great art (and I'm talking even Etsy finds), splashing out at the nursery, buying beautiful fabric to sew with.... I think the pendulum is starting to swing the other way. I will always admire the sheer beauty of design but I have to accept that buying my favourite Chanel eyeliner is aspirational enough for me!

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    1. I had heard that Crafty Domino from an Italian friend, who was quite scathing of it saying that essentially they just had to sew in the "Made in Italy" label for it to qualify... she also said that there were a lot of factories being set up in Italy that were staffed by Chinese workers. I love good design, but the overinflated prices make my blood boil. xx

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  20. Thought provoking post Heidi. The experience of luxury has vastly changed for me too. In my younger years I yearned to experience firsthand the thrill of walking into a prestigious boutique and buying my dream and it was many years before I got the chance. I still remember the anticipation of entering Tiffany's in New York and feeling a sense of delicious satisfaction that it was all I imagined.
    Over the years I have purchased a number of high end handbags Balenciaga being my favourites but I have nearly always used consignment stores and have not been disappointed.
    Sure the experience of walking into these boutiques and being treated with due reference can be intoxicating but too often as you have commented there are swarms of other buyers frantically buying whatever takes their fancy and it is not something I have any desire to repeat anytime soon.
    Luxury for me is time. Time to do what I want to do. I no longer care or need to be part of acquiring 'things' for the sake of being part of the tribe that has to have the latest status luxury item.
    Ps. I love that book by Alain de Botton. Can't wait to read his new one The News!
    Kate Bx

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    1. I find it really interesting to see where the whole concept of Luxury is going to go. When every reality tv celebrity has a Birkin, it loses its allure; I don't want to spend $15,000 to emulate Kim Kardashian. Having just returned from a trip to Sydney, where the luxury stuff is everywhere, I have to say I found it a little off-putting... it's as you say, belonging to a tribe, and do you want to be part of that tribe? Let me know what the new book is like! xx

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  21. Just come across your blog! Love it!!! This post was super interesting for me...I hear and agree with so many of the sentiments expressed. Unfortunately luxury has become mass market. I buy into it but not beyond what I can afford....the challenge is that "ordinary@ clothes, shoes etc are so awful! I'd rather buy 1 pair of Ferragamo shoes than 10 pairs from Zara. My view on buying is quality over quantity and I am very minimalist in my collections. 3 handbags max. Small selection of jewelry. 10 pairs of shoes. I think the big gap in the market is quality and design at an affordable price and not for the masses.

    The biggest challenge for my generation beyond being raised in a "must have it now, even if it's paid with credit" is actually being able to afford to enter the housing market. For most people a house is their only asset. It has been like this for generations. This is the Australian dream - a house with a big back yard in the burbs. My parents could afford this dream with some sacrifices. These days you might be able to afford it with the sacrifices but that would mean commuting 1-2 hours from your job in the city because you can't afford anything closer and with people working longer hours than ever, not many want to do this. Hence the living at home for longer because our parents could afford to buy homes close to the city. Otherwise if means the cycle of renting with home ownership just seeming unobtainable.

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    1. I've always been like you too Anne. Back when I was just getting going in my career, I had two good suits for work, and a variety of tops to go with it. I used to redye my black clothes when they started to fade from the washing, but I'd prefer to have a small, quality work wardrobe, than a large one full of poorly cut and finished clothes. Even now, I go into Zara from time to time, get attracted to something from a distance, find it disappointing up close, and when I put it on it inevitably looks dreadful.
      I think the housing situation in the big cities like Sydney and Melbourne is thoroughly depressing. You should be able to buy a flat close to the city on a reasonable professional salary, but that is beyond reach now. I can remember my Mum telling me to rent something cheaper than our first flat in Melbourne, so we could save money, and I pointed out to her that we could rent something 10KM from the city and for $80 less a week than we were paying, and then pay an extra $60 in weekly tram fares and face a 45 minute commute, rather than the flat we rented where we walked to work. It was very hard to save for a house when rents were high. xx

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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