Does the consolidation of high fashion brands into a few multinational fashion houses (LVMH, Kering, Richemont) erode the sense of luxury for you?

Do you care whether a fashion brand is independent or a subsidiary of a larger corporation?

  • Yes, it influences my purchase choices

    Votes: 21 40.4%
  • Yes, but it doesn't impact what I buy

    Votes: 18 34.6%
  • No, not at all

    Votes: 13 25.0%

  • Total voters
    52

bicoastalAvoToaster

New Member
Jul 20, 2020
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I've been a longtime lover of fashion (and lurker on this website!) in no small part because I appreciate fashion as an artform and cultural touchstone, and have long esteemed brands that have a place in aesthetic history. With that in mind, I was considering a purchase of a new bag to celebrate getting a big-girl job, but I've been very turned off in discovering that the majority of fashion brands that I admire are subsidiaries of just three major labels: Kering is the majority stakeholder in YSL, Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, and others; Richemont has a near-monopoly over fine jewelry, holding Piaget, Van Cleef, Cartier, and Chloe; and LVMH controls perhaps the rest of the luxury industry at large, with subsidiaries ranging from Veuve Clicquot to Sephora and fashion holdings including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Pucci, Fendi, and even BVLGARI, Celine, and Loewe's.

Does anyone else find this level of corporatization a bit cheapening? What's more, with these brands benefiting from such significant returns to scale, what justifies the inflated price point of their wares? Am I completely overthinking this? Would love to hear other fashionophiles' thoughts.
 

880

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I've been a longtime lover of fashion (and lurker on this website!) in no small part because I appreciate fashion as an artform and cultural touchstone, and have long esteemed brands that have a place in aesthetic history. With that in mind, I was considering a purchase of a new bag to celebrate getting a big-girl job, but I've been very turned off in discovering that the majority of fashion brands that I admire are subsidiaries of just three major labels: Kering is the majority stakeholder in YSL, Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, and others; Richemont has a near-monopoly over fine jewelry, holding Piaget, Van Cleef, Cartier, and Chloe; and LVMH controls perhaps the rest of the luxury industry at large, with subsidiaries ranging from Veuve Clicquot to Sephora and fashion holdings including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Pucci, Fendi, and even BVLGARI, Celine, and Loewe's.

Does anyone else find this level of corporatization a bit cheapening? What's more, with these brands benefiting from such significant returns to scale, what justifies the inflated price point of their wares? Am I completely overthinking this? Would love to hear other fashionophiles' thoughts.
Yes. Agree. I am also concerned about the convergence of styles among different brands. With globalization, it’s become harder to find luxury items that are unique and special. With respect to hermes, there are some who believe that the leather goods were of higher quality in past decades. The prices have jumped tremendously in the last decade, at least in hermes and Chanel RTW and handbags. I am not too familiar with other brands. But, I am researching a verdura (Or bellperron) purchase Instead of Cartier or VCA, and DH just bought a Lange & Sohn zeitwork instead of the top three popular watch brands. (ALange , however, is Richemont owned)

edit: for those of us that love vintage pieces and/or custom, the big companies and major auction houses are taking steps to capitalize on the resale market. Richemont bought Watch Finders, a reseller of watches; VCA has its own heritage counter at the Flagship store; Verdura Belperron displays its own vintage pieces; and Hermes has bought John Lobb, St. Louis crystal etc. And has its own custom program horizons, special commander (DH and I are getting to know the program through furnishings, but it also applies to bags and other goods).
 
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bicoastalAvoToaster

New Member
Jul 20, 2020
2
13
Yes. Agree. I am also concerned about the convergence of styles among different brands. With globalization, it’s become harder to find luxury items that are unique and special. With respect to hermes, there are some who believe that the leather goods were of higher quality in past decades. The prices have jumped tremendously in the last decade, at least in hermes and Chanel RTW and handbags. I am not too familiar with other brands. But, I am researching a verdura (Or bellperron) purchase Instead of Cartier or VCA, and DH just bought a Lange & Sohn zeitwork instead of the top three popular watch brands.
Interesting point about the convergence of style. I'm unsure the extent to which this is attributable to globalization, especially since labels do tend to maintain individual creative directors--the biggest convergence I've seen recently is brands known for interesting aesthetics converging around relatively boring, nicely-structured logo-adorned flap bags. I used to love Balenciaga's moto bags and Valentino's structured studied pieces in feminine colors, but now it seems both houses are pushing a lot of big-logo-clasp bags. While Balenciaga is Kering, Valentino is privately owned by the Qatar royal family and Burberry, who also has recently been pushing the logo clasp, is its own corporation.
 
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880

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brands known for interesting aesthetics converging around relatively boring, nicely-structured logo-adorned flap bags
Perhaps it’s us :smile:. If the consumer demographic wants boring, logo adorned bags. . . Actually, I was also thinking that when chanel bought lesage, you would think in house means lower prices, but no. they started to make more high priced embroidered goods, then created a new higher price for all goods in that category, irrespective of increased labor. (Sorry that was poorly worded) here is the example i was thinking of: one season they had two skirts: one regular silver, grey black and white boucle (which I bought) and one priced 4K usd more, same skirt plus additional embroidery (Which a friend of mine bought) And eventually, there was a price increase across the board for skirts. . . which was somewhat analogous to your point that prices should come down if they are related to cost of manufacture or design. ..

by the way, congratulations on your job! If you find a bag you love, you should just get it :smile: if you need the new bag experience, go for it, otherwise, there are plenty of us who buy a mix of boutique and reseller.
 
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papertiger

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What you say is very true. And LVMH also owns Moynat, Tiffany, Fenty Cosmetics, Guerlain and even newer ventures like La Bouche Rouge too. Kering also owns Brioni, Boucheron, Pomellato, Dodo, Qeelin, Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux and linked to Christies auction house too and set pre-loved prices via estimates. The expansion isn't over yet either, I'm sure they are looking for replacements for Stella McCartney and Sergio Rossi too because they see LVMH as the competition and LVMH has expanded hugely recently, 'betting' on jewellery and cosmetics (top and tali of the luxury chain).

Great to see a new member ask such an interesting question.

I'm not 100% sure what is meant by cheapening, but I think I know what you mean. Prices certainly seem to rise with increasing frequency and in unison, I doubt very much whether the increases are going towards labour or materials, just expansion plans and more and more company acquisitions.

However, I don't see a homogenised design aesthetic over all LVMH businesses or Kering, although I notice that I choose jewellery from other companies besides Richemont owned which tend to be smaller (apart from Hermes). I need to think about it more.

There are some benefits of being in a group. It can increase accountability of supply chains and manufacturing standards which can benefit those companies and their customers in terms of sustainability and consistency. These parent companies have so much power in the industry it would sheer folly to risk their reputations. Also it can help start ups and new businesses. Fenty was able to grow huge very fast because of LVMH money and muscle, and La Bouche Rouge has very few of the start-up problems that most niche companies experience. The wave of publicity that accompany acquisitions can also boost those companies, Pomellato seems so much better known under Kering even though their aesthetic hadn't really changed (fans please correct me if I'm wrong) and I doubt Alexander McQueen would have become the global brand (from 2002) and weathered the storm of the designer's sad death in 2010 without the clout of Kering (Gucci Group as it was) behind them.

Most of these brands are like department stores in themselves. A McQ, YSL and Bal are primarily fashion houses, so of course it's handy to have factories that can tan leather and make bags and accessories (Gucci owned) and have Kering eyewear across all brands. This always happened in smaller ways (Gucci always outsourced material bags and worked with other specialists) but the vertical and horizontal integration is much closer within many of the brands of the same parent company.

There are plenty of other amazing luxury houses for bags, jewellery etc that are not owned by the big 3 (and are not H). Def some you should check out, which one(s) obviously depends on your own aesthetic sensibility and where you live. I think it's great to support independent businesses.
 

JenJBS

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Sep 22, 2019
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I've been a longtime lover of fashion (and lurker on this website!) in no small part because I appreciate fashion as an artform and cultural touchstone, and have long esteemed brands that have a place in aesthetic history. With that in mind, I was considering a purchase of a new bag to celebrate getting a big-girl job, but I've been very turned off in discovering that the majority of fashion brands that I admire are subsidiaries of just three major labels: Kering is the majority stakeholder in YSL, Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, and others; Richemont has a near-monopoly over fine jewelry, holding Piaget, Van Cleef, Cartier, and Chloe; and LVMH controls perhaps the rest of the luxury industry at large, with subsidiaries ranging from Veuve Clicquot to Sephora and fashion holdings including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Pucci, Fendi, and even BVLGARI, Celine, and Loewe's.

Does anyone else find this level of corporatization a bit cheapening? What's more, with these brands benefiting from such significant returns to scale, what justifies the inflated price point of their wares? Am I completely overthinking this? Would love to hear other fashionophiles' thoughts.
Congratulations on your new job! :yahoo:

I completely agree that the inflated prices of luxury items don't seem justified.

I'm not one who is loyal to a specific brand. If I love a bag, I love a bag - I don't care at all what parent company might be a major stakeholder. Same for a piece of jewelry. I do tend to stick to certain clothing companies, but that's because being petite it's hard to find clothes (especially pants) that fit me well; so if I find a brand that does I tend to stay with it. But that's practicality, not caring about who the major stakeholder is. I got a Coach purse a little over a year and a half ago to celebrate getting a great new job. I love the purse, and it reminds me how excited I was to get this job. That's all that matters to me. I don't know, or care, who owns Coach - I do know, and care, that I love the purse and it makes me happy.
 

RT1

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Congratulations on your new job! :yahoo:

I completely agree that the inflated prices of luxury items don't seem justified.

I'm not one who is loyal to a specific brand. If I love a bag, I love a bag - I don't care at all what parent company might be a major stakeholder. Same for a piece of jewelry. I do tend to stick to certain clothing companies, but that's because being petite it's hard to find clothes (especially pants) that fit me well; so if I find a brand that does I tend to stay with it. But that's practicality, not caring about who the major stakeholder is. I got a Coach purse a little over a year and a half ago to celebrate getting a great new job. I love the purse, and it reminds me how excited I was to get this job. That's all that matters to me. I don't know, or care, who owns Coach - I do know, and care, that I love the purse and it makes me happy.
You always have the BEST attitude about being realistic. :yes:
 
T

the_black_tie_diyer

No, not at all. Because I buy what I love, then use it and "bond"/ make history with it. That is my "luxury".

Luxury is not defined by a price point - expressly and especially not by an artificially inflated one of a product that is produced by the thousands. The way it currently works is simple: Growth over substance - by riding the heritage horse without owning up to that in many cases. Growth enabled primarily through too much cash in hands of people willing to spend it while hoping to receive a top notch quality product as well as environmental and humanitarian absolution. That again enables and serves as the base of those megalomaniac prices on products that are in fact luxurious as in rare/bespoke and made by some of the afore mentioned brands. And in some way, this is feeding itself because it could be as well the other way around.

The consolidations itself aren't a bad thing considering that some of the brands wouldn't have lived to see another day if it weren't for fresh capital injections and guidance/leadership from those "fashion house/ luxury conglomerates". So from a "fashion's lover" standpoint that is good, because it keeps brands alive and/or renews them. From a "purist's" standpoint it's a nightmare because you get a "BrandXBrand" super-special-limited-exclusive-edition for the 47th's time, that just feels like the 46 releases before that.

Buy what you love and what you can stand behind - for whatever reasons - and you don't have that problem.

For me, it's the memories made while using it, and I freely admit, I'm partly way too attached to much of my "stuff".

Kind regards,
Oliver
 
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@papertiger what brands did you have in mind that are not owned by these conglomerates?
Idk why it bothers me & feels a bit cheaper. Maybe because the brands try to sell exclusivity & how hand crafted their bags are, on such a limited level (only a few of each bag is handcrafted blah blah) but theyre really owned by large corporations. (Side eyeing you Blvgari).
 

880

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@papertiger what brands did you have in mind that are not owned by these conglomerates?
Idk why it bothers me & feels a bit cheaper. Maybe because the brands try to sell exclusivity & how hand crafted their bags are, on such a limited level (only a few of each bag is handcrafted blah blah) but theyre really owned by large corporations. (Side eyeing you Blvgari).
I was rereading this thread and wondering what brands @papertiger had in mind too. I think she mentioned that she buys jewelry from smaller houses. . . (Not richmont owned).

@Vintage Leather, on another thread, @cowgirlsboots recommended the book Gods and Kings (Galliano and McQueen). Also agree with you that these big money backers don’t want risk. When DH was starting companies, the VCs and Private Equity didn’t want risk either, even if it meant higher reward. Not many designers can afford the full Alaia. Off to google Plato’s Atlantis and Highland Rape, thank you! Ireally materials, craftsmanship, design are all so important to luxury and they should stem from a genuine story.

@the_black_tie_diyer, agree that some of these brands would not have made it financially without consolidation. Though I liked Hermes enamels before they bought Wilkes Frey and feel that CSGMs were thicker and better made years ago. . .

@A bottle of Red, arguably @JenJBS and @the_black_tie_diyer have the right idea: just buy what you love. . . All of us with this first world problem tend to overthink it :biggrin:

possibly true luxury could be found in custom (assuming you have superb taste — not sure the layman does— and click with a fantastic craftsman). I’m currently obsessed with Duret.com for custom belts and bags (DH has ordered belts and I’m contemplating a bag) , and @Vintage Leather recommended Peter Nitz (formerly of Luxury Zurich) on the thread Unknown higher end brands.
 
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I feel so stupid buying into the idea that these bags are exclusive & made in very limited amounts; but that's what multiple bvlgari sas told me. :'(
 
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Vintage Leather

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What you say is very true. And LVMH also owns Moynat, Tiffany, Fenty Cosmetics, Guerlain and even newer ventures like La Bouche Rouge too. Kering also owns Brioni, Boucheron, Pomellato, Dodo, Qeelin, Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux and linked to Christies auction house too and set pre-loved prices via estimates. The expansion isn't over yet either, I'm sure they are looking for replacements for Stella McCartney and Sergio Rossi too because they see LVMH as the competition and LVMH has expanded hugely recently, 'betting' on jewellery and cosmetics (top and tali of the luxury chain).
Actually, LVMH backed out of the Tiffany acquisition and now there is mud slinging and blaming all over the place... politely.

While I can see the advantages of the supply chain benefits and the other ways a large corporate entity can produce quality, might I play the devil’s advocate?

If luxury is the art of living well, the bigger the corporation the less the luxury.

When big money is on the line, designers want guaranteed returns. Who wants to gamble millions on art and public taste when you can lose your own name if you can’t take in the dollars?

Case in point: McQ. I love Sarah Burton; her tailoring and aesthetic are lovely. But there’s no excitement or edge. It’s... well done and beautiful and looks amazing on slender women. Where as, with Plato’s Atlantis or Highland Rape, not everyone could wear it but it was interesting and gorgeous and told a story. And it’s noteworthy - I’m a casual McQueen fan and I can name a half-dozen collections.

And since I’m talking about Lee McQueen, how about that production schedule? Would he and Galliano have developed such severe substance abuse problems if it wasn’t for the constant need to produce Fall and Cruise and PreSprinand Spring and Pre-Fall for a main line as well as for either a diffusion line (McQ) or a personal line (Galliano)?
The RTW and couture schedule is insane. I’m not saying everyone should go full-Alaia here, but there should be balance.

Speed and fear are the opposite of luxury, but that’s a fundamental component in a million dollar gamble.

I think the question of “can a multinational conglomerate produce luxury” must first define luxury.

Is the quality of materials or workmanship more precious? Is unique design more or less valuable than the identity messaging and story?