Kirstie Clements: The smoke and mirrors behind the ‘new luxury’ price hikes

Major designers from prestigious brands are raising prices to eye watering heights.

Major designers from prestigious brands are raising prices to eye watering heights. Photo: TND/Getty

The world of luxury fashion seems to be in a tiny bit of a tizz at the moment.

There’s an exodus of major designers from prestigious international houses, and many brands like Chanel are raising prices to eye watering heights in an effort to be perceived as more ‘luxe’ and therefore more appealing.

It seems to be rather counter intuitive to me to raise prices – in some cases by double – in order to attract more business, but clearly it’s the 1 per centers they want to  attract, the clients who have more money than sense.

The famed “waiting lists” for items, a manufactured scarcity of products that is part of the luxury playbook has also come under scrutiny.

There is a landmark case currently being played out against the French luxury house Hermès, which has been sued in the US over claims that it is violating antitrust law by only allowing customers with a “sufficient purchase history” with the company to buy their coveted Birkin bag.

The move is pushing clients to buy other accessories such as shoes, scarves and jewellery first in order to earn the opportunity to be offered a Birkin or Kelly bag.

Call me callous, but it surely if you want to play in that luxury arena, you have to abide by the house rules and if Hermes want to limit who gets to carry their highly rarefied product, then that is their prerogative.

I’d also suggest that if you had even an iota of self-awareness then maybe you don’t want to join a club who doesn’t want to let you in, but hey sue, why not.

It’s going to be quite the pyrrhic victory when you win the right to buy a $30,000 leather bag and you get your first scuff mark.

Scarcity and sky-high prices are the formula the houses have devised, so don’t play if you can’t afford it.

Phoebe Philo’s recent collection, which debuted online, only featured $25,000 coats and apparently sold out in hours, although how many pieces were actually produced is anyone’s guess.

The new designer at Chloe, Chemena Kamali, returned to the boho trend the brand used to see success with, showing a floaty, coloured silk dress for $26,000.

The other 99 per cent of us can remain buoyant, because no doubt it will be  copied by Zara faster than you can say ‘what ,boho again?’, given it’s the style trend that is the most easy to mimic when you’re using cheap fabrics. 

Whether these dubious marketing strategies coming from management are what impelled designers such as Pier Paolo Piccioli from Valentino and the incomparable Dries Van Noten to both exit stage left recently, the fact remains that fashion world is certainly poorer for the loss of their talents.

Both designers had a lovely, nuanced design connection with their customers. One which didn’t feel like they were conning you because they could.

Ultimately, it’s the customer’s responsibility. If you don’t have stupid money, don’t pay stupid prices.

Topics: Fashion
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