Value in Luxury Goods

Posted on 23. Aug, 2010 by in Men's Fashion





What constitutes real value?

Now that the tree on which money used to grow has been pruned, how does the upscale consumer define and look for value?  This is an interesting question to me and one that I think is pertinent to understanding the man who wears our clothes.  Better brands are still doing well and the bottom has not dropped out from under the ultra-luxe business.  This customer has become accustomed to exceptional quality and doesn’t want to settle for something ordinary.  It makes sense that the customer now, more than in the past, wants to be sure he’s getting his money’s worth.

For a period of time the world was awash in luxury goods and it almost seemed like the very well-heeled consumer enjoyed overpaying.  It was as though this reinforced his self image of being successful and able to afford prices that other people couldn’t consider.  Every time I turned around I saw something new that was meant for this particular consumer.  Five thousand dollar suits had become ten thousand dollar suits and twelve hundred dollar handbags were now sitting next to six thousand dollar ones.  A stratospherically expensive Ferrari didn’t seem so crazy next to the new Bugatti Veyron, built by Volkswagen(which means “people’s car” ha ha) and priced at over a million dollars.

The $1.7 million Bugatti Veyron. How much would you pay for luxury?”

What’s changed?

What some of the recent studies indicate is that the luxury consumer now needs to know what is special and worth the price about the item he is considering.  This buyer doesn’t want to get fleeced by buying some faux ritzy item for three times what it’s worth.  Are the materials special and will they make this item last longer and be nicer to use or wear?  Is the design unique and timeless enough to use for a long time?  Even though it’s costly, is it the best in its class, nicer than anything else for the same price.  To a truly wealthy person, a Bentley automobile, a London grade shotgun or a Morris M52 sailing yacht may represent good value, even though they cost enough to choke a horse by normal standards.  They’re all beautifully made and I’m sure a joy to own and use.  No one can argue that the law of diminishing returns is at work here.  To go from something very nice to the best that exists is accompanied by a huge leap in price.  Nevertheless, the materials, craftsmanship and even the heritage of these things can’t be disputed.  Authenticity is also cited in these studies, which certainly applies to the things I mentioned above.  Established, long-admired brands are more trusted than the luxury brand that was invented last year.

What about you and me?

My feeling is that most of us have also become used to nice things.  We still like to go to our favorite restaurant, even if we may not go as often.  We may postpone trading our car, but will only buy a car that we really like when the time comes.  We, too, don’t want to overpay for something, but we want it to be special, to be beautifully made, nice to use or wear and we want it to last.  We want to know that whatever we buy is the best in its price class.  Forgetting about the best of the best, there are exceptional brands that cater to the upscale consumer, rather than just to the people who own private jets.  I’d like to think that we run one of those companies.  We scour the world for special fabrics, but we can’t simply buy the most expensive fabrics we find or we would price ourselves out of the reach of the man we’re trying to appeal to.  We do most of the fabric design ourselves so that we can offer something unique and attractive. We specify every last detail, from yarn quality to weave structure to fabric finish.  We pour over details until we think that the garment is the best it can possibly be.  We avoid any materials or construction techniques that would diminish its durability.  Buyer’s remorse comes from something that didn’t live up to your expectations or that didn’t give you your money’s worth.  That’s the last thing I want my customers to experience.  Our clothing is expensive enough that it needs to be just right.  You should be comfortable in it and look good in it.  I hope you get compliments on how good you look more often than I do, but I know that it’s nice when it happens.  I’m sure it’s my clothes that look good rather than me, but I’m happy.  The best place to look for value is in fine stores and from good brands that have proven themselves to you.    If you’re reading this, I’m sure you can distinguish between something that’s worthwhile and something that’s just pretending to be special.

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