My Mamma always said...

  1. My mother taught me that in order to be considered a true luxury product, it must be made in France or that was awhile ago...and maybe she had some biased opinions about that...I personally think there are other places able to produce truly luxurious handbags, like Nancy Gonzales, in Columbia, for example…(while I really can’t help but wonder how much higher the quality would be if she did those in Italy or France? *my mama’s voice never leaves me=)))))...I would like to believe it depends on the artists, not where they live....that having been said....what do you think? Can we call something luxury if there is a "made in *some not so luxurious place known for mass production*" tag on it?
  2. I think that quality, craftsmanship and price have more to do with luxury than anything else. It also has to do with how you define luxury, as different people have different ideas of what that means. That said, I think there are products made in America that definitely count as luxury (weren't a good number of Louis Vuitton items made in the USA?), and while I realize it's a point of contention on these forums, Coach products count as luxury goods in my mind, and they're made in China.
  3. Nah, I don't really believe that personally.
    I have seen plenty of 'crap' made in France or Italy. They have workers handcrafting for cheap just like and other country.
    My Louis Vuitton Batignolles Horizontal was made right here in theUSA and it's luxurious IMO.
  4. It's not where they are from but how they are made IMO. Every country has crappy and great craftsmanship. That's just my opinion. There is a difference obviously if there is a single skilled bagmaker making the very bag you are carrying or just any person who can sew making a bag.
  5. Yes, you are right....they have some unfortunate products in France and Italy too...but, they are certainly not sold as luxury....unless they are a copy you pick up in Italy...
  6. You are quite right:yes:
  7. I agree that it is the quality of materials and workmanship that matter. One cannot, however, ignore the fact that certain countries and cultures have a long-standing tradition of great fashion design and producing beautiful leather goods.

    Sometimes goods are manufactured in certain locations for specific reasons. For example, many companys have moved their manufacturing to China because goods can be mass produced more cheaply than in other places. Why do you think Coach moved its manufacturing to China? To improve quality or to reduce cost and, thereby, increase profits? Personnally, cheaply made and mass production are not terms I associate with quality.

    This doesn't mean that you will never find a great Chinese designer (there are many) who creates beautiful, non-mass produced bags. In that situation, it would be the workmanship and design that mattered.

    Italy, on the other hand, has a long-standing tradition of manufacturing high quality, beautiful leather products. Obviously, one cannot reasonably speak in absolutes about such things - the fact that something is from Italy does not guarantee it will high quality - but that is the tradition. Also, how can an Italian designer keep a close watch over the manufacturing process if everything is manufacturered on the other side of the world?

    Just my opinion but it comes after seven years of working for a European manufacturer that has moved nearly all production to lower cost parts of the world.
  8. Not to offend anyone, but I really don't get why some people equate "mass production" with low quality; in fact, many mass produced items hold up better becuase machines do not make mistakes. And while I love a handcrafted bag as much as the next person, the fact that it was crafted by hand makes it more liable to quality problems. Just my two cents.
  9. The way I look at it, many of the "luxury" items out there are pretty much mass produced but for a smaller group of people so that doesn't really have anything to do with it. Anyway, my thoughts on this are:

    A luxury good can be made in Europe, Canada, the U.S. or any other country that will produce a truly fine item, BUT if the manufacturer has taken the cheapest path, and their prices are going insane, then something is wrong with that picture. I'll use Kooba, Brahmin, Coach, Stone Mountain and LV to illustrate my views.

    Kooba started out with Italian leather handbags made in Italy for about half their current prices. When the company was successful in getting them pictured on various celebs' arms, the demand went up, and so did the price because a cool bag couldn't be seen as "cheap" in the eyes of the fashion crowd. Somewhere in this process they shifted production over to China, and now that means they're more profitable than ever, and the consumer is getting ripped off.

    Bramin uses some of the most beautiful Italian leathers available, and until recently, they were assembled in the U.S. Again, as the demand increased, they chose to shift some of their production overseas, and from what I've seen in the stores, the U.S.-made bags are few and far between. Instead of investing in more jobs here, they dramatically cut their costs, and the prices remained the same or went up. Not cool. Not luxurious.

    Coach, like Brahmin, used to proudly be made in the U.S., and the website makes themselves look like a fabulous all-American company, but they're anything but. In the 90s it was important to not only produce a quality item but to also offer up something to the trend lovers, and Coach was VERY Successful in this area. The stores expanded in number and size, the shelves were filled with a wider variety of items....but to do all this, they tossed the American jobs and shifted production to China. Now as they've become more chic than ever, the prices have gone up, up and up ($698 for a Chinese-made fabric bag with leather trim?). Some luxury good.

    Stone Mountain was another company that used to be U.S. made (near me BTW), but then shifted some and then all of their production overseas as their market expanded. Most of what they have in their various lines is of good to high quality, and they never marketed themselves as a "luxury" company. They just produce leather bags in the, mostly, $150 range and under. They're also widely available at T.J. Maxx, Ross and Marshall's for $39.99. IOW, they don't pretend to be what they're not, but they're producing a quality Chinse-made item at what are reasonable prices when on sale or discounted at mass merchants.

    LV always was a luxury company, and there they've stayed. Back in the day, traveling was a VERY Expensive proposition, and the trunks they were producing were anything but reasonably priced. While everything used to be made in France, they've expanded their manufacturing to Italy, Germany, Spain (the old Loewe factory), and the U.S. ALL of these countries involve a more expensive labor force, higher costs, and as a rational consumer, I would expect to be paying for all of that. I also expect to pay for a bit of their long history when I pay serious $$ for a bag that I know they'll stand behind, and that I'll have for years to come.

    I'm not saying the Chinese can't produce amazing goods because they can, and I have some in my home. I'm also not saying that anything and everything that comes out of France, Italy or whereever is always of the highest quality because it can be just as junky as anyone else's cheaper goods. I cannot for the life of me fathom though how a "luxury" good can be labeled as such when the company has gone to the cheapest manufacturing source, possibly raised their prices along the way for the sheer heck of it and left their talented craftspeople behind in the dust.
  10. Hermes is crafted by hand, though....

    Ususally, handcrafted means that they are still made with machines, but part of the bag is made by hand because the machines just can't do what some human hands can...thank goodness...:love:
  11. Ammietwist, I applaud you...! It is sad that it has become more about making as many bucks as possible, with the cheapest labor available, and letting a fine art die. There are artisans in Europe and the US who have trained all of their lives...second...third generation craftspeople...out of work. The "know-how" is here...we should fine our appreciation for them and put them back to work. I know that is what a lot of these small designers I am always mentioning are trying to is an uphill battle for them, but they are the "real deal" and it is sad to see such a fine art go secretly to their graves with them.

    It is more than the fine is the design, the way the patterns for the bags are carefully considered, cut, and prototyped to death until they are truly pleased with the end step is left to chance…they hand pick the leathers, test all of the hardware (the hardware makers they work with are also craftspeople and practice their art like fine jewelers…and no, these are the same jewelers designing hardware for LV, Hermes…etc… ) the attention to detail is considered every step of the way right down to the linings...for these people, it is a passion and consider it their responsibility to practice their art.

    One designer I spoke with told me a story of meeting with a marketing professional …when she told the marketing expert that she aims to create bags to be handed down generation after generation…the marketing pro told her that it was a bad idea…she said that luxury bags should be made to only last three years at most, so that the consumer will be forced to come back for more…needless to say, this designer has given up on taking the advice of marketing professionals…she said if she were to do that, she could not sleep at night.

    Having said all of that, I would never want to assume that there are not also fine artisans other places.
  12. Alexandra, I'm quite saddened to see the jobs and skills being tossed aside like they don't matter. I buy a lot of vintage/antique jewelry with exquisite detailing, and I know for a fact that if there's anyone in the world that could even make certain pieces now, you would be able to count them on two hands with some fingers left over. It's also sad to see people say how great the quality of something is when it's nothing compared to what USED to be made. Cameos are a good example. It makes me shake my head in wonder at what people think of as a "quality" piece. Have standards gone down THAT much?

    I'm glad you mentioned the hardware, and how some manufacturers treat it like jewelry. I remember reading about a company that makes hardware (pulls, hinges and the like) for furniture, and they were obsessive about quality control. They were aiming for perfection or at least as close as they could come. Expensive but so worth it.

    At least the designer you mentioned didn't sink down to the level of the marketing exec. If you're selling a luxury good, and it's a TRUE luxury good, it should last. My computer may be disposable, but I sure don't want to think of my LV as being so.
  13. Well said, again, once again. I have searched high and low in Europe to find these masters...and I have found a few... and there is a younger generation coming up now who have the same passion, inspired by those who went before them not wanting the art to die. They apprentice under master craftspeople and learn the stuff they can't (or don't) teach in school. The art is still there, you just have to look for it...I know, the way I write about this, it sounds as if they are making old foggie bags...but, no...the younger ones are talented modern designers...and they like to combine the old lost quality with modern designs. I really hope it will become a new trend.;) I am hopeful about that.

    I can find you a cameo maker...let me know=)...

  14. I couldn't agree more! :yes:

    While I also agree that beautiful, high quality items can be (and are) produced in countries outside Italy and France; these are the two countries that have been historically associated with luxury leathergoods and centuries old, traditional techniques, have been handed down from generation to generation.

    Also, there is less risk of luxury products from these countries having been produced in sweatshops; compared to those produced in China, or South America.

    For these reasons - I have all of the handmade leathergoods for my business, produced in France.

    Not everything should be about increasing profit margins! ;)

  15. Again, I couldn't agree more. :yes:

    Although there is invariably a higher profit margin in selling new jewellery, because of our commitment to quality; we are constantly drawn to vintage and antique jewellery.

    It is also sad, but true, that many people (even the many who enjoy modern, high quality, designer items) don't even know what was possible, in terms of quality, in the past. :sad: