Our views on clothing vary drastically depending on factors such as wealth, social status, age, and interests. Who we are often defines what we wear, either limiting our fashion choices or drawing us to desire garments that are beyond our financial reach.
A frugal adult whose passion is far from anything to do with fashion will likely stick to clothing that is practical and affordable with little regard for brand name or flashy designs. On the other hand, a student from a wealthy family probably prefers the trendiest pieces with an emphasis on the label.
The latter category of people is drawn to spend more on what they wear for different reasons. Whether it’s social pressure or simply having an interest in clothing. Either way, these reasons are what high fashion brands capitalize on. From viral marketing to celebrity endorsements, they know how to make their products desirable.
But at the end of the day, are the silk shirts and mink coats really worth their exuberant asking prices? Or are we all just falling for consumerism?
Brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Balenciaga all share a number of things in common that allows them to charge more or less whatever they want for their products. The most evident is quality. From the drawing board to the storefront, high fashion brands go to great lengths to ensure that every step of the selling process is as pristine and luxurious as possible.
The buying experience is much more than simply pulling what you want off a hanger or shelf. Even if you pick up a simple pair of socks from Gucci, they’ll be presented to you in an impressive gift box with a small book letting you know that this is a genuine Gucci product made in a European country out of the finest cotton.
Their marketing campaigns will feature only superstar celebrities and their stock is always extremely limited. Often, pieces sell out before you even knew they had been released. This exclusive image acts as sufficient justification for customers to keep buying, even when prices get astronomically high.
Personal taste aside, it should come as no surprise that many people don’t believe the experience is worth it.
There’s no denying that even though you’re getting a higher quality product, the markup is still huge. And, while most pieces are manufactured in Europe to stay away from the negative connotations of the “Made in China” label, they aren’t always handmade by a well-paid seamstress.
Many high fashion labels make their clothes in the same factories by the same underpaid workers as high street brands whose products are perceived as lower quality. That said, this isn’t the case with all labels and those who have been around for decades and have a select market of buyers pay a lot more attention to the manufacturing process.
They comply with the strict quality standards that have been in place from the beginning, and the end result is noticeably superior. It’s ultimately up to the consumer to decide whether the quality of the products they’re buying is what they expect from the designer.
Where You Buy It
Different retailers tend to sell the same products for vastly different prices depending on the shopping experience. Online stores are generally significantly cheaper and more convenient. SSENSE is a popular website that ships internationally and frequently holds sales that make their higher end products significantly more accessible.
In the case of handbags, for example, you get what you pay for with brands like Chloé. Whether you want a Chloé Bag for fancy dinners or a Chloé Backpack to look stylish on the go, all you need to do is take a look at SSENSE’s Chloé range and you’ll find a variety of pieces that look great and don’t cost a fortune compared to other high fashion labels.
Making The Right Decision
If you’re unsure as to whether you should be buying from a certain brand, consider your alternatives. If you’re after a certain design, it’s very likely that a cheaper brand offers the same thing. Even though it might not be on the same level in terms of quality, you can probably pick up more than one item for the same price.
This also largely depends on what you’re buying. A t-shirt, no matter how expensive, will inevitably experience the same wear and tear as a cheaper one. A jacket or wallet, on the other hand, can easily last you a lifetime if you take care of it. If it’s something you can keep forever, you might as well invest in the best.
At the end of the day, it’s a matter of priorities. If you like the products that a certain brand has on offer, then, by all means, treat yourself on occasion. Just don’t start buying clothes on credit – that’s when you know you’ve taken it a bit too far.