(Think about the following questions and feel free to leave your responses in the comments field):
How do you define luxury?
Have you purchased something recently that you would consider a luxury item?--What was it?
Do you consider luxury items unnecessary, unattainable, or too expensive?
What is one luxury item you crave?
Everyone desires luxury, and today it seems, that everything claims to be a luxury good. Everything claims to be cut from the finest fabric sourced from the most exclusive locales. Consider the fact that cashmere has traditionally been considered a luxury but today mass marketers everywhere have $80-$90 sweaters made of 100% cashmere. Do you consider an $80 cashmere sweater from the Gap a luxury? If the answer is no, do you consider it a mid-luxury item? Now, I know a lot of cashmere snobs out there (my boyfriend being one of them) that would tell you that cashmere A) isn't very soft B) will pill the second you put it on if it hasn't already. These same people would not consider anything from the Gap to be a luxury and that is because it is so accessible. The Gap is a place for everyday essentials, but I have to acknowledge that to some the Gap may be a luxury. Putting all of that aside for a moment, what if it was possible that one mill provided cashmere to two designers who in turn made two fine high quality cashmere sweaters and priced them differently. One at $80 and one at $900. Both designers would claim that their sweater was a luxury product, but you & I would very likely assume that the $900 sweater was more luxurious and possibly of higher quality. You may think this example is far fetched but it isn't at all, and happens a ton with cashmere specifically. High price tags get slapped on things of poor quality, and sometimes high quality items are under priced, and of course both of them will be marketed as nothing but the finest & luxurious item known to man. Sometimes there is truth in advertising, sometimes there isn't...it is a risk we as consumers have to take.
"The media is constantly redefining what luxury is. Luxury can be a dirty sock if dressed up in the right way."
Everyone is trying to keep up with the Jones', some are wallowing in debt while others who can't spring for their favorite quilted Chanel bag will head to Chinatown or eBay to score themselves a replica. This obsessive consumerism has not only created a booming market for counterfeit merchandise, it has created a high demand for designers to enter into license agreements and create capsule collections. As consumers we are inundated with all of this. You can't walk down the street in NYC without being offered some crappy fake handbag, and you can't go a month without hearing about some limited edition celebrity or designer fashion line. This month we had Roberto Cavalli at H&M, Erin Fetherston at Target, and Vera Wang at Kohls. Designers of the past used to fear that their brand & the exclusivity would be damaged by entering into such agreements but today without it the Forever 21s of the world will kill it for you. Emerging & established designers alike view the capsule collections for mass retailers like target as a vehicle for expanding their brand audience, but I think it is also a way for them to directly combat the Forever 21s of the world from copying their designs and making a killing (Trovata, Gwen Stefani, & Anna Sui (among others) all have active suits against Forever 21 for copyright infringement).