Aspiration vs affordability

Apart from the fact that I’ve been poorly and mostly housebound, I’ve not been in the mood for shopping for weeks. At first I thought it was the credit crunch holding me back and that I was being subconsciously sensible and saving my money but that’s not it. While in the West End last week I went for a browse in Liberty. There was a special one-day discount promotion for loyalty card customers with discounts up to 50% off throughout the store (although annoyingly, the final prices weren’t displayed). This should have piqued my interest but instead it made me feel deflated. Seeing stacks of Chloe and Marc Jacobs bags, belts and wallets piled high like bunches of bananas on a market stall at close of day only served to devalue them. Part of the appeal of designer goods is the luxury experience of buying them. This is why people get a buzz out of going to the Chanel shop to buy their lipstick instead of buying it at Debenhams. It’s why you’ll find dresses sparingly displayed three-finger-widths apart on a rail in Prada so you have to be looked after by a salesperson. (It’s also why uber-luxe stores like Hermes don’t have sales.) The hushed atmosphere, the pristine merchandise, the personal service are all factored into the price and what make a Prada dress ‘worth’ its four-figure sum. If it’s just going to be treated like a piece of tat like the poor Alexander McQueen sequin leggings at Saks, then we might as well all shop at Primark.

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13 Responses to Aspiration vs affordability

  1. WendyB says:

    I agree. By the way, lots of smaller stores are being hurt badly by Saks’ panic selling. They’re being forced to give deep discounts too, to stay competitive, and it’s killing them. I think Saks is going to have to file for bankruptcy protection. I really do. The company’s behavior is not strategic in any other way.

  2. Dressed and Pressed says:

    Ooh… controversial! I have to say that if you’re buying into designer gear simply for the (false) dream they’re selling, then you’re throwing your money away.

    What your image of the designer stuff piled up like bunches of bananas brought home to me is the fact that it is all 99 per cent show. I’ll bet if I chose a few good Primark pieces and put them in the right context surrounded by scented shelves and served up by fawning staff you’d buy them for whatever price I put on them.

    I’ve gotta say: that makes me feel sad.

  3. Chowygirl says:

    It’s too bad you feel that way, if I had seen that banana pile of designer stuff, I’d have dove into it like an excited monkey!I love sales and am not ashamed to say so.

    In fact I was at the Saks sale and it was not the “most depressing thing” as some people are saying. Everything was still pretty pricey. I saw a Gucci dress marked down 50% from $1300. Well hell, that’s still $650, not including the sales tax! Isn’t that still out of most people’s pay range? Who is this depressing for? The rich people who CAN afford it, or the lower to middle classes who STILL CAN’T afford it?

    I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I just can’t feel sorry for these luxury brands when I know how outrageous the markups are. That Gucci dress I saw was no better than a $300 dress from a lower end designer. You may think you’re paying for the status but, really, aren’t you just paying for Miuccia Prada’s yacht?

  4. indigo16 says:

    I agree, shopping is as much about the experience as the clothes. I am the same with food, I hate paying for good food only to sit in horrible cheap surroundings. If shops are to survive they need to address the ambience.

  5. Big City Bumpkin says:

    I agree too, in many ways the exclusivity is part of what you’re paying for. After all, there is limited appeal in having something that everyone else has already got. Hope you feel better – so many people seem so have come down with this horrible wintery bug. Bring of christmas I say!

  6. July Stars says:

    I hope you feel better soon!
    I was at the Liberty 50% event and managed to find a beautiful Dries Van Noten coat for my husband, although the 20% didn’t feel like much of a bargain considering the morose economic environment and huge discounts applied everywhere.
    I was sad to hear/read recently that Liberty has been experiencing huge financial difficulties and might have to close down. I love it. A remarkable institution and the products available are always so much better than at HN or Selfridges.

  7. enc says:

    I think so, too.

    I always feel like a sucker when I pay full price for something, in the shop of provenance, then I see it on sale in a giant, tawdry pile of castoffs. Bleah.

  8. miss cavendish says:

    I hate to hear this about Liberty. It’s my favorite shopping destination in the world.

  9. Sal says:

    Having never been flush enough to shop at truly luxe shops, I can’t really relate … but I CAN recognize the economic implications of the sad Saks scene. So much bleakness.

  10. Sarah Edwina Rose says:

    No, I agree with you. Though I like a bargian as much as the next person, shopping is not just about purchase gain but experience, well for me anyway.

    This is why I avoid Primark, you might get a nice piece in there but have to rumage and walk through clothes strewn aisles with rotten polyester baskets. That is not fun to me, and shopping should be fun

  11. Natty says:

    I cant afford to shop in high end stores usually (apart from the odd Chanel shoe splurge which resulted in me living on fresh air and fags for two weeks!!), so for me, a designer sale is an exciting thing. Items piles high may put off some but for me, the onus is on getting a top quality garment / shoe / bag made in a a top quality fabric and much better than anything I can get from the high street, than the second to none service. I guess what I saying is I would rather shop in a deisgner jumble sale than Primark any day!

  12. Zoe says:

    I completely agree with the idea of mass display devaluing items. When working in Liberty I saw the way the Marc Jacobs wallets arrived in huge plastic sacks of a hundred, a sight which competely devalued them in my eyes.

    For the same reason, I didn't really enjoy commes des garcons for h&m or indeed most sales, I hate seeing everything piled up all higgledy-piggledy and how everyone becomes all grabby.

    It depresses me.

  13. Style Eyes says:

    I absolutely agree. I hate the sales designer or not and I avoid shopping at all costs during the sale time. Funnily enough I don’t mind online deigner sales, perhaps it doesn’t feel like a real sale without the scrum and rails of clothes that are all mixed up and have probably been tried on fifty times already

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