What's In A Brand?

9:43 PM

I wanted to post this some time ago, but here it is. In this post, it's referring to bags. High-end designer bags.

If you know me long and well enough, you'd notice I'm one of those gays labeled as "fashionistas". Unfortunately, my life isn't that exciting and although I love fashion (and own some), I hardly chance upon the times where I could dress myself to the nines. It's more of a "all dressed up and nowhere to go" scenario. So you'll mostly find me in t-shirts and shorts, or even tanks, with messy hair.

But enough about me. The reason what motivated to write this is because I came across a post from a blogger about brand recognition and the value of a designer bag. Why a piece made from the part of a dead animal can cost so much that you can feed a malnourished family in Africa for a year (This is what my grandmum will say about my habit. I acknowledge it as my hobby)?

Let me try to educate you all with my certain level of knowledge about the fashion industry and the love of all things designer.

Let's try to dissect this by using a Louis Vuitton Neverfull in PM. It's the rhombus tote with two straps at the side that you can see almost everywhere (yes, everywhere). PM here refers to the smallest size available for this tote, which is around the size of a B4 paper (considering only the body, minus straps). This will set you back around USD1140, or RM4000, more or less, depending on where you are buying this tote.

(The Louis Vuitton Neverfull PM used to be USD 770, or around RM 2500, a few years back, but more on this later.)

The Neverfull is made from high quality canvas (not leather), with a lining in fuschia textile (colour of lining has its variations, depending on the size model) for the monogrammed version. It's trimmed with vachetta leather, which means untreated leather and is susceptible to water stains and dirt. Over time, the trimming will age into a honey brown colour. This is called a patina. The hardware is made of brass with a gold tone. It's not gold plated and will tarnish over time. Also, the bag is reversible, which means you can turn the bag inside out and use it.

Now, considering the materials of the bag, do you think it's worth it? If not, then what are you paying for exactly? Well, note that although each bag is not exactly hand stitched (some parts are, some parts aren't, depending on the complexity of the design), it is a handmade product. Fine skills are required and the people who do this are called artisans. So some part of your money goes to their salary.

Now what about advertisements? Louis Vuitton features an ad campaign for every collection that they produce so some part of the money goes to the advertisers and models who did the campaign. If you buy this in a boutique, part of your money goes to the sales assistants too. And so on.

But the most important thing that you did when you made your choice to buy the bag is that you are supporting the creative thoughts that are put into that bag. It's like supporting your favourite singer by buying their original albums.

Another important point is brand recognition. Almost everybody recognises the Louis Vuitton monogram and the value that it is associated with i.e. luxury. This increases the brand's value. Take note that Louis Vuitton has a price increase period every now and then to make their products seem more precious and unattainable (Therefore you can see why they jacked up their prices by 50% in a period of a few years).

Why they are doing so? People will still buy them due to the value of the brand. Another brand that's notorious for their price increase is Chanel. You can check out online resellers for Chanel bags that the pricing for a used one is similar to a brand new one. They hold their value, and if you're lucky enough, your used Chanel bag may even be worth more than the amount you first bought it.

But as a conclusion, after all has been said, the reason why people (and me, of course) like to buy designer goods is because of the quality. I can assure you that a Louis Vuitton Neverfull or a Chanel 2.55 will definitely last and gives you value when you calculate it by cost-per-use. I bought enough bags from high-street brands to realise that my high-street bag will only last a year or two, but my designer item will last me long enough until I feel like selling it away.

Oh, and about fake designer goods? I do know that what they are producing are very, very close to the original items, but the way that the item is made is not up to ethical standards. Child labour, unsanitary working conditions, associations with gangs and such surrounds the production of fake designer goods.

If you are ever, ever tempted to do so, please do not buy a fake designer item. There are a lot more contemporary designers that can fit your budget e.g. Coach and Longchamp, providing quality and easing your wallet.

I'm not trying to promote brands, or having a say in what bag you are using, but different people have different tastes and different ways of using their money. Some people like my father spends a tonne on his fish pond and cars, and I'm saving part of my hard-earned money into buying what I love.

Whichever thing that rocks your boat, folks.

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