"As designer labels go mass market..." What do you think? (News from Australia)

  1. sigh...

    I was wondering...if they are right...:confused1:


    What do you think?...:push:

    The conceit of luxury
    Daphne Guinness
    September 6, 2007

    As designer labels go mass market, a new book says quality is taking a dive - but prices are as high as ever.
    Dana Thomas is stuffing envelopes with copies of Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre and writing notes to go with them. What to say to Bernard Arnault, chairman of Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, one of the world's biggest producers of luxury goods? "Oh, I dunno. I hope you enjoy my book," she says. Arnault will have a fit.
    The French mogul is fingered as a fiendish money-making former property developer with no artistic sensibility and Louis Vuitton is characterised as the McDonald's of the luxury industry. "A million served," says Thomas drily. The "LV" logo is as recognisable as the big golden M. "It really is. I would certainly put it in the top 10 along with Nike [and] Coca-Cola."
    That actually could be music to Arnault's ears. It means Louis Vuitton is selling stupendously and making pots of money for the tycoon and his shareholders. But for devotees, the message is devastating. It means the famous logo is no longer the cachet-loaded item it once was. It still costs an arm and a leg, yet those buying are not the old-money, aristocratic clients who coveted craftsmanship and exclusivity. Instead they're the new luxury-obsessed middle-class consumers addicted to brands not for quality but for what they represent. And now they don't even have that.
    How has this come about? Thomas says it's greedy designers wanting to cash in on rising disposable incomes and new Asian markets. "Luxury goods are the only area in which it is possible to make luxury margins," as Arnault puts it. Many cut corners and use inferior materials, many outsource to developing nations where labour is cheap and goods are made mostly on machines. So what are consumers paying for when quality has given way to quantity? That's the big question.
    "It sure is," Thomas says. "We are paying more for marketing hype and profits for shareholders than we are for craftsmanship. That's proven when you look at handbags."
    She visited a factory in China where luxury handbags were turned out for $US100 ($122) and then sold at Harvey Nicholls, Hong Kong, for $US1200. "And where is that money going? Not to middlemen. To the factory owners and paying for gigantic ad campaigns that make you want to buy these things."
    Everyone swoons over glossy magazine advertisements yet, unless you are 12 years old or size 0, the goodies are more and more impractical. Especially gross is the generic "It" bag of which former Gucci designer Tom Ford yodelled, "It's like you gotta have it or you'll die." Now self-employed, he says: "All those handbags make me sick. It's so formula." And yet, we swoon on.

    The book's blurb says Thomas, Newsweek's Paris cultural and fashion writer, digs deep into the dark side of the luxury industry to uncover the secrets that Prada, Gucci, Burberry and others don't want us to know. She shrugs off impending retribution. "Maybe they won't return telephone calls, or I'll be banned from fashion shows. So what?"
    Thomas interviewed corporate heads, factory workers, old-money clients and new middle-class consumers to reveal a horrendous picture of new luxury today. (She spent three years checking facts, figures, names and that many-headed monster, libel.)
    "Everyone can afford a luxury handbag," says Karl Lagerfeld, designer for Chanel. At $3500? I think not. Especially not when other bags (not Chanel's) are glued together in China and "Made in Italy" labels are stuck on bamboo handles in Milan.
    By last year hundreds of thousands of luxury items were churned out in developing countries and, unbeknown to customers, adorned with a "Made in Italy/France/England" label.
    Thomas says that a new twist has emerged. "Many now stamp on the back 'Designed in Italy/England/France'. Then 'Made in China', or wherever, is hidden in a little place you would never look." Like in the base of a bag, hem of a sweater ... "or stamped in black on black".
    Few own up to this practice but Thomas names two: Celine and Prada. "They do now [own up]," she says. "[But] Celine manufactured in China before they admitted to it. Despite an LVMH executive saying none of [its] products were made there, Celine [owned by LVMH] put out a press release in 2005 saying [its] Macadam bag was made in China. Well, hel-lo! You're contradicting yourselves a little bit."
    Prada produces in China, too. "Correct. Miuccia Prada was producing leather goods in China by May 2005." But when they met and Thomas asked how she justified this, the designer's attitude was, "Well, I don't have to".
    It's the Big Cultural Difference, Thomas says. "I go home and tell my French husband, Herve, and he laughs, 'You'll never get it. That's the way we are."'
    At this point the urge to examine one's labels is irresistible. How genuine is that "Made in Italy" Emporio Armani suit, or the Gucci shoes? When I go shopping, who can I trust? And how do I know?
    Thomas says several brands are cut and partially assembled in China then finished in Italy. "Shoes for example. They do all the assembling, put the soles on, the embroidery is done in Italy and it becomes a 'Made in Italy' shoe."

    Another way brands get around the cost of labour is to import Chinese workers to Italy. "It's like a Chinatown between Rome and Florence. Labour costs are far less and that way they can still say it's 'Made in Italy'. It's a real trick."
    How on Earth did she persuade the manufacturers to reveal their secrets? "Oh, I had to sniff around, do lots of snooping." But finally she got them talking. "Yeah - a bit." Well, she got Bernard Arnault talking. "That was some time ago. He wouldn't talk to me for the book. We spoke often beforehand so I had good material. Things I didn't use in Newsweek but kept in a drawer. Absolute gems."
    The only designer she heard openly embracing manufacturing in China was Giorgio Armani on a visit in 2004. "The 'Made in Italy' is important for the top line because it suggests a certain specialisation," he said, "but to manufacture some of our other lines in China - as long as we control the quality - why not?"
    And why not fake it? Today's consumers are so obsessed with labels they can't tell the difference. They even swank their gorgeous Vuitton tote that only cost $20 in Bangkok. Thomas heard one rich woman ask a five-star hotel concierge where was the nearest place to buy a fake Rolex watch and was it any good?
    Faking is easy, according to Miuccia Prada. "Take some details from the brand's past, add a little bit of gold and that's it. I can't bear it. Real luxurious people hate status. You don't look rich because you have a rich dress."
    Tell that to the millions buying it and to the children turning it out in labour sweatshops. And the racketeers raking it in.
    Going mass market has its problems, the most obvious being theft (otherwise known as "shrinkage"). And the wrong people wear luxury brands. British working-class chavs (think bogans in bling) roam the streets wearing Burberry clobber ... "people the executives aren't so keen on," Thomas says.
    Once-chic shopping streets are now tourist attractions. In Beverly Hills, has Rodeo Drive really had it? "You go and see it, you don't go shopping," Thomas says. In 2001, 14 million people visited and spent about $1 million a day. Not good enough for Mario Grauso, president of the Puig Fashion Group, which includes Nina Ricci and Paco Rabanne. "It's not the shopping experience any more. You don't want a busload of tourists out front taking pictures."
    Luxury has gone pear-shaped, that's obvious. Tom Ford doesn't mince words. "Everything is too uniform, too pedestrian. It's like McDonald's, you get the same hamburger experience at every outlet. Same with Vuitton. We helped create that at Gucci. It's not what I am interested in now," he moans.
    As for Thomas, she admits her inspiration for Deluxe was a book about the fast food industry "and I never want to eat fast food again". Maybe that's her goal: to kill luxury addiction stone dead.
    "It's to be like Toto in The Wizard of Oz. Toto pulls back the curtain and shows the wizard is a man with a bunch of whistles and thick smoke. There's no magic, it's what you believe. But here's what's going on behind the curtain. Just a man in a suit with smoke and whistles."
  2. All that talk of "wrong" people wearing luxury lol. It seems like the rich are simply p*ssed that what they consider lower than them can afford the same things now, as if a kid loses something that makes him/her seem special (at least from her book):whistle: Honestly, why care about things that others wear as long as you like it...

    The developing countries stuff is a different thing now, makes me wanna buy more vintage,,,
  3. Do you think...GUCCI or LV is made in China? with a 'made in France'...'made in Italy' tag? :sad: i hate the newspaper...
  4. the bamboo thing sound more like Gucci. Who knows in the age of globalization... as long as the quality of the material and manufacturing (no loose stitching and such) is better than stuff thats obviously made in developing countries I will continue to buy (now this sentence would make Mr Arnault happy :rolleyes:)
  5. It is an interesting article and I'm really curious about the book... going out to buy it now!!!
  6. To me it always seems like they use vuitton as an example of a fashion turkey, a big chain, not neccessarily a company who maufactures everthing in china and stamps on a made in france /us/spain.

    That being said, it's not vuitton who makes ever little piece of their product. Inside the hardware buttons of my new RTW piece, it actually says something else (SBH or something) inside the button, the outside of it is adorned with LOUIS VUITTON of course. Inside of pens are made in japan, the brass cover says made in France, the bags might say made in US, but dustbag ade in Italy or Spain and paper bag made in hungary. :push:

    Louis Vuitton doesen't make every little piece they put out themselves. But, I have yet to discover dissatisfactory quality with LV, prada items on the contrary, I feel like they are skimping more on materials than LV because of that. So each brand is defnelty not the same, even though they may be under the same umbrella.
  7. This is a very sensitive topic on this board, but people can ***** and moan as much as they want, posting endlessly how THEY are different, but fact is, the book tells the truth.
    LV has become the McDonalds of luxury, remember the article posted not a long time ago, about luxury labels "discovering" India? Well the article said LV is usually one of the first labels to open a boutique in an emerging market, just like McDonalds.
  8. REALLY!!! :push:

    if i read the book...i'd be depressed about what i bought...especially the 'made in Italy = lies...' and all that...already sad after reading the article...:sad: Tell us about the book lol
  9. This is a sensitive subject (As Roth pointed out) but I'll contribute my 2 cents about it.
    I have only been purchasing LV for about 18 months....but in that time I have seen absolute craziness. 18 months ago there was not a new bag coming out every month...but now we have more than one bag a month being released.

    The exclusiveness of the brand is being lowered. By mass producing pieces and flooding the market with your brand...people who buy from exclusivity...well they won't be.

    For example, limited edition items typically were released as a one shot deal....usually just the 2 seasons (plus cruise)....now it seems as it 'limited edition' bags are being released almost every month. And how limited are they?
    The supposed 'limited edition' mirage line? I can walk into LV right now and buy one? What about Olympe? Same thing....shoot I can buy one from the S/S season.
    Somehow though....I feel that LV does not really care so much if they take longer to sell their LE pieces....so long as they are getting the middle class folks in to buy their Speedy 30 & Neverfull bags. These are their so-called 'Entry Level' bags. The overhead to produce them is probably next to nothing...and the quality on these 'entry-level' bags is substandard (I'm particularly referring to all the problems with the Neverfull).

    Most companies will assert that it is their 'entry-level' models that make all the profit for them...because they are the highest profit margin! I'm sure the profit margins on Suhali & Multicolore are much lower (more intensive labor...and paying Murakami his %%).

    This is just my 2 cents....and some of this is reasons why I stopped purchasing LV for the time being and sold everything.
  10. I very rarely post on the LV board (since I stopped buying LV, but i still love to see what they create)

    twiggers ITA, I stopped buying LV and in a year or so i plan to sell/give my family my LV. All to do the the McDonald's Lv thing, Its not exclusive anymore, quality has been comprised to say the least and don't flame me LV lovers, but i have been suspecting lv has been outsourcing work in Asia, like the article suggested parts are made but the main assembly is in france/italy/USA/XXXX to its legally bound to that country. (it would explain ALOT about fakes) I am very thankful that i have spent a huge amount of money on Lv and hope to recoup orate most of it.
  11. I don't buy LV for its exclusiveness. I buy the design. I buy the materials. I like McDonalds.
  12. Any high end bag can have quality control issues. I have bought LV for over 25 years and have only once a problem with the snap on a small wallet I got from ELuxury which was replaced with a new one. I had some gucci bags and got rid of them years ago (just got sick of them). I do own some prada but hardly use them. They are my winter or it raining outside bags...... I have some pretty Kate Spade prints but these were bags I got to match certain outfits. I bought a Mulberry and love the color but it is too heavy so I never use it. I bought Chanel and LOVE their items, so now I am leaning towards Chanel more than anything because I fell in love with their leathers and I think I am ready to change for a non monogram bag. I still love my LV's and think I will add with buying some small vernis pieces which I really think are my favorite now. I do think the fake bags that ones sees everywhere may bother some people but if you have a real bag you know it and love it and that is all that matters. I really don't care what people think.
    Some feel it is crazy to spend big money on a bag, but if my bag is still here 25 years later and I am using it I feel it was worth it.
  13. I mean look at Gucci, in the 90's and before they were the "IT" thing. The label was used in songs way before LV was. Gucci was wayy more popular and now LV has taken the reins, yes they are a much bigger company then they were 20 years ago but I believe LV will always maintain it's sense of Luxury.
  14. I just buy what I like! I like the designs of the LV's that I own and I'm a happy customer. I've ventured into other designers and believe me, they ALL have issues, even Chanel, which many people covet as THE high status bag.
  15. this isnt surprising to me ever since i took a required course in international business. apparently, anything can have a "Made in ______" tag but only 50% of it can actually be made there and still be "legal". so its not exactly lying to the consumer, just not telling the whole story. but i always believe that as long as you like it and can appreciate the bag that it is, it shouldnt matter. until it falls apart on you that is...

    i kinda have to side w/ the author of the article. my friend recently came back from a 2 week trip to hong kong and upon her return the first thing she said to me was "there were SO many LVs walking around, it was crazy!" to which i responded "and probably more than half were fake". and she agreed with me.