An article that all the Hermès fans would love to read

  1. If everyone has one, do you still want one?
    The elites don't, which may mean the end of conspicuous consumption
    Fashionable types have been waiting for this book all summer -- and it's not even a *****y roman a clef.
    Dana Thomas's Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster (Penguin) is instead a social history of the luxury industry that reads like a riveting roll call of Double Cs, double Fs and signature buckles (Gucci, Ferragamo).
    In her exhaustively researched book, Newsweek's Paris-based fashion and culture correspondent examines the rise and fall of old-world craftsmanship, then dissects the class, culture and other clashes at issue behind today's US$157-billion luxury good market. She glimpses the workrooms of luxury brands around the world -- both the pedigreed ateliers of France and the less-so factories in remote China, juxtaposing the story of luxury barons Bernard Arnault with stylist-come-lately Rachel Zoe and the snobbish pronouncements of Fred Hayman (he of Giorgio Beverly Hills fame). She looks at luxury behemoths like Gucci Group, Richemont and LVMH, whose portfolio includes more than 50 brands, such as Pucci, Dior, Donna Karan and the money-making jewel, Louis Vuitton.
    Thomas also lays bare the infamous loophole of final assembly, a technicality that allows designers to sew the coveted "made in Italy" label on garments assembled there from materials fabricated elsewhere. There's even an interview and some dirt on the enigmatic Miuccia Prada, the poli-sci PhD and communist who became the soul and patron fashion saint of her family's luggage brand in a volte-face as striking as Naomi Klein suddenly becoming the spokesmodel for Wal-Mart.
    This new Theory of the Leisure Class for the 'naughts: Authentic artisans become branding megaliths targeting the aspirational middle class looking for instant McStatus tied up in a famous robin's egg blue box.
    So where does luxury go from here? Thomas ties the massification in with the rise of licensing and ancillary products -- the purses and perfume that drive the bottom line. Labels and logos have gone from the inside to the exterior, a vulgar display of arriviste insecurity. This conspicuousness is slowly spooking original luxury consumers who worry not about the source -- which may still be artisanal--but the audience.
    Last year in Britain, rumours swirled that Burberry would pull back on use of its signature nova check because of the increasing adoption of the look by British soccer hooligans. It's a classic case of the Chavs and the Chav-nots. The easy access to the trappings of luxury -- the branded and licensed purses and perfumes and plaids -- and the creation of a masstige category (prestige appeal at slightly mass-market prices), such as Simply Vera by Vera Wang at Kohl's or Erin Featherston's upcoming Target collection, devalue the core luxury values.
    These days, the truly rich are all about stealth wealth, a direction Barb Atkin, the savvy vice-president of fashion direction at Holt Renfrew, enthused about at a fashion luncheon earlier this week. Atkin cited little-known Brunello Cucinelli, a very expensive but much sought after understated luxury brand on the rise. Cucinelli is subtle, not showy. His labels are on the inside, not out, and the true luxury comes from the exquisite material and fabrication. It's elitist, which is of course the whole point of luxury. Nowadays, those who have it don't flaunt it. The new luxury model is embodied by L.A. socialite Susan Casden, who gets to personally approve the special order of the lesser-known Hermes bag named after her.
    This backlash against conspicuous consumption is how Thomas wraps up her book. As shoemaker Christian Louboutin tells the author, "Luxury is not consumerism." You see, the rich really are different from you and me. And the moment Vogue, originally a proudly exclusionary society journal for the 400 pedigreed East Coast families, starts running Wal-Mart ads, it is time for the elites to look elsewhere.
    Of course, that's if they believe that goods -- and not, say, free time, close friends and good health --are the trappings of true luxury.

    Nathalie Atkison
    Thursday, August 23, 2007
  2. Another discussion...

    (thank you for sharing)
  3. Can´t wait to read the book
  4. this review is interesting and different from the one i posted. it makes some really interesting points (and i love the term "masstige." that is brilliant!).

    let's see... i would say it's as foolish as the pedigreed wealthy to snub something because of it's popularity for fear of being grouped with another "class" (geeeez, how insecure can you be) as it is for someone to try to buy the appearance of pedigree and/or style by grabbing something expensive just because it is (expensive, i mean), without any true appreciation for the item.
    sooooo, both sides are idiots. LOL

  5. :roflmfao:
    That pretty much sums up my perspective on this, as well.
  6. I just received my copy of the book from Amazon last night! - can't wait to read it this weekend ........
  7. OH please then let us know your feedback!!!!! I can´t wait. OK?!?Promise?!? :yahoo:

  8. ^^^i don't know. in the end, what will it change? either people will feel worse about things they like, or better about themselves for not liking those things. it might be interesting from a sociological or anthropological study of how our culture shops, judges, and identifies status, but it doesn't change the product much.
    i once read a book about the cosmetic industry. it was an appropriately light read. oooo, yes, now i know (what i already knew) that cheap brands owned under the same corporate umbrella as expensive brands often share formulas so that the $4 drugstore lipstick is the same quality as the $24 dept. store lipstick, but the $$ one has a nicer package, a better point-of-purchase atmosphere, etc. yup, knew that, had it reiterated in the book, and now do i buy the $4 lipstick? nope.
  9. I think I may have to read this book. It certainly sounds interesting.
  10. I first heard about this book a few mths ago and have wanted to read it. This thread just peaked my interest again. Off to Amazon to buy...........
  11. are we doing book reports?

    Although it is a different forum, I did like the Louis Vuitton Japan - The Building of Luxury book.

    It was a good marketing/business book, and really went thru the history of brands, what was going on in the global marketplace during the 70's 80's 90's and now the 00's.
  12. Okay - I'm a little more than half way done - Don't have time to do a full report now, but just wanted to check in and tell all the Hermes lovers that if you read this book, you will NEVER want anything else besides Hermes. (as if that were a revelation ......!!)


    Incredibly well researched, and having witnessed the labor/counterfeit issues first hand I can tell you the author's take on this facet of the "luxury trade" is all accurately presented.

    I want "real" things of high craftsmanship and art in my life, for me, not to impress others and I get a real feeling after almost a year, that others who post on the Hermes forum feel the same way which is why I keep coming back!

    Just glad that most of my higher end stuff is "vintage" so I can be fairly sure materials/workmanship was respected.

    Anyway - gonna finish it off tonight..............
  13. a longer report.....PLEASE!!!
    it will be amazing if you post some scans when she writes about Hermès, I mean the ones with more impact, because she should write a lot about HErmès.

  14. I absolutely have to read this book
  15. Yes...I feel the same way.:yes: