Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The "Oxymoronic" World of Fashion

I got the 15 year anniversary edition of InStyle yesterday. First let me say that I only purchased the magazine to support one of my friend's kid's school fund raiser. I'm not really an InStyle type of girl, namely because I refuse to spend more than $10 on a white shirt. Anyhow, I like browsing and looking at things I can't afford and making fun of things that are just way too ugly to wear.

On page 187, there's a "designer profile" on Louis Vuitton in which Marc Jacobs was interviewed about the line. He had some very insightful things to say:
Q (paraphrased): Can you ignore the economic downturn?
MJ: That's impossible. But my biggest responsibility is to make sure that what you buy lasts. Louis Vuitton is a luxury brand and must remain exactly that. We shouldn't alter the materials or the execution.
Q: So if it lasts, why would you need more...
MJ: It's a bit oxymoronic, isn't it? To make something that will last, but then still create more so there's always something special to dream about. That really is the nature of fashion. If everything we bought satisfied us for our whole lives, we would just stop buying at some point. But, surprise! There is always going to be a new bag.

Okay, let's look at this. In response to the price of Louis Vuitton "stuff", Marc Jacobs freely admits that he expects people to pay top dollar for their products. Never mind that people can't afford it. It's Louis Vuitton, and you're going to pay what the company feels you owe them. They're luxury, for crying out loud! We don't care about you, we just care about people who can afford us. Which is very few people, mind you. Why, as an average American, spend $2,250 on the "Eclipse Speedy" bag when the company is just laughing at you for being foolish enough to buy something so ridiculously expensive?

Secondly, look at what Jacobs says about oxymorons. He basically calls everyone who's "into" fashion an idiot because they keep wanting more of the same. Truly, does a purse really make that much of a difference to a person's life? Sure, I understand the importance of and difference between having a business purse and a fun purse. But do you have to do it to the tune of $1,000 each? Even if the bag is well-made, is a bunch of leather, lining, stitching, and metal worth that much? Why not buy a just as classy and classic non-name brand bag that will serve just as well for just as long for less than $40? I refuse to buy bags above $25 and have managed quite well.

One last quote from Marc Jacobs: "I'm a real believer in wearing whatever you want, whenever you want. No one dictates fashion to the women I know!" Okay, if this is true, then why does that man hawk horrendously ugly clothes at Fashion Week and try to tell us that those clothes deformities are "it" this season, and you just can't live without it? If I can wear whatever I want whenever I want and be endorsed by the great Marc Jacobs, then what's the point of fashion magazines? Why have fashion shows? He's just full of oxymorons, Marc Jacobs is. Nice to know such a confused individual is leading scores of women into very "fancy" stores to buy very expensive and sometimes very ugly clothing.

-Domestic Goddess out.


  1. Good eye for seeing through his "logic". Keep up the good work!

  2. Hey Gaby! I found your blog and I love it! I agree with a lot (like your going green), BUT. I have to disagree here. If you buy a Louis Vuitton knowing you will wear it forever and make it your primary bag AND won't want the latest and greatest bag each season, you can make it last forever. My stepmom bought her LV while she was backpacking around Europe and has since had her bag for more than 20 years. She sends it off to the Louis Vuitton bag hospital whenever it's damaged, which is not often, maybe about every five or so years, for a nominal fee.

    While the prices they charge up front are VERY steep, I think a classic purse is more of an investment. Truly, you will see lots of little old ladies in Paris carrying the same Louis Vuitton or Hermes bags for 50 years. I think it might even be greener (though not animal friendly...), to buy a classic (yikes...leather...I'm still guilty) bag to last decades rather than buy one or more inexpensive purses right off the pallet from China each spring.

    Here's some of what Shane calls my "fuzzy math." Let's say you buy three purses each year for $25 each from Target (and maybe you don't, but I think this is reasonable assuming one or more breaks or wears out over the course of the year which is my experience). Over 20 years, that's $1500 in real, pre-inflation dollars. If you buy a $1000 Louis Vuitton bag and send it for repair every five years, that's $1500 as well, which actually might be quite a savings as luxury brands will only continue to become more expensive. Shane says this is fuzzy (for one, because I'm the one doing the math and it's not quite my strong suit) because I would buy more than one purse over the course of 20 years, but it would not be a premium luxury brand, so I think of this additional cost as nominal (the cost of one nice bag for five years rather than five-ten inexpensive bags, which is what I've done through college with Coach bags). So for example, if I have a brown Luis Vuitton, I'd want a less expensive black purse to last five years, like a Coach bag for $200. I think, for a reasonable shopper looking for quality over quantity, it all comes out in the wash. So don't judge me when I come around with a pricey purse one Christmas :)

  3. Brittany:

    Thanks for your thoughts! I have a couple of responses, most namely that I DON'T judge people just from what they've got. Shucks, even I've got a Coach purse (it was a gift). So zero judging by me at Christmas!

    I certainly understand what you're saying about the long life of LV purses and even agree with some your arguments for buying one. However, by principle, I just can't agree with buying a purse that costs more than I put into my kids' college funds!

    Here's my main beef: I don't see how very many women could buy an LV purse (or any other purse) and be satisfied enough with it for the next 50 years to carry it around all, or even most of, the time. As we both said, there's a purse for every season (brown, black, summer, winter, work, formal, etc)! Plus, we're women. We get tired of our things, and sometimes we just want to have something new.

    I'm not really against Louis Vuitton. If you can afford to pay $1,500 (now, not on credit that will turn the purchase into an even more unethical amount of money) for a purse you feel you really need (need, not want), then buy it. However, as a 20-something who just hit the work force from college who's supporting another college-goer, I'm willing to bet there are better places for your money to go.

    Personally, I couldn't do it. I know there are tons of "lesser" name (as opposed to "super luxury", e.g., Louis Vuitton or "luxury", e.g., Coach) purses that can and have lasted me for a long time. I don't buy purses every season, just when the older ones finally give out, which takes quite a while because I try to take good care of them. I still have a formal purse from 8th grade that serves me well! For daily use, I have three other purses that I rotate around the seasons. Two were from "lesser" brands that cost me about $30 each, and the third was the gifted Coach that cost about $100. There was no way I was going to pay that much, but my benefactor felt otherwise (obviously).

    So I'll do some fuzzy math based on the following:
    Assumption 1: Each purse will cost ~$30.
    Assumption 2: I buy purses every five years (based on your comment: "I'd want a less expensive purse to last five years, like a Coach".
    Assumption 3: I "need" three purses.
    Assumption 4: My numbers are being run over 20 years in pre-inflation dollars, like yours.
    Assumption 5: The clock started in 2006, when I got the Coach purse.

    Every five years, I'll spend $90 for a new trio of purses. By 2026, I'll have spent $360 on purses. That's 24% of the much-debated $1,500 purse.

    If I were to keep these assumptions true for the rest of my life, I could buy new purses until 2091 (I'd be 109) until I spent $1,500 on purses. Knowing the type of consumer I am, getting three new things every five years instead of having one piece for the rest of my life suits me a lot better. So...don't judge me for having a cheap purse at Christmas, k? ;-)

    P.S. I won't be home for Christmas until 2010, and I'm sure I'll forget to look at your purse anyway.

  4. Gaby, please don't think I mean that I would buy (or am even considering buying) such an expensive purse right now! I am in no position to even consider it (I mean, I don't even have health insurance! Or a full time job! Our car doesn't have AC!). I mean a Christmas many years from now :) and only then if it would not take away from financial goals like college savings and retirement (and even vacation), like you said.

    I agree that it would be hard to not want something new over the course of how every many years, but there's a few styles I think I could carry in any season. Anyway, I hope I'm the type of girl who can stick with the same old model for 50 years (like Shane!), so I'd like to think I could do it!

    I like your math, but from my experience a $30 purse doesn't last me five years. It usually makes it about a year before the zipper breaks, a seam pulls loose, the "leather" begins peeling away, or something of the like. So I think spending $90 every five years is not realistic. I think $30 a year is doable, but that two inexpensive purses a year is more realistic, so that's $60 a year, so in five years (with my luck with Target-level bags, at least) I'm already up to $350 and it's only 2014. By 2026 I'd spend $1,020.

    Either way, now I want to look at purses online!

  5. I would just like to point out my incredibly "fuzzy," aka wrong, math. In five years, at $60 a year, the total would be $300. Not $350. Don't laugh.

  6. I have the utmost confidence in your abilities to prioritize spending! There's nothing more fun than looking at stuff...especially online b/c you can compare prices so easily. Have fun "window" shopping. :)