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08-09-2009
  1
Power to the 99%
 
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What's It Worth? : The High Price of Designer Fashion
I frankly think there's something quite wrong with people who add or subtract value based on the label sewn inside a garment. Either it's great or it isn't. Either you have good judgment or you don't. I was once in Nordstrom's Collectors department, and the SA admired my coat and asked whose it was. When I said Odille from Anthropologie (and my tone was yes, didn't I find something great for a great price!), she sniffed Oh! and turned on her heel

OK, babe, so approximately 1.25 seconds ago you loved it, and now you don't? Could it be that you are disappointed that I'm a savvy customer who may not be sending your commissions through the roof today, or what is the problem here?

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09-09-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fashionista-ta View Post

I frankly think there's something quite wrong with people who add or subtract value based on the label sewn inside a garment. Either it's great or it isn't. Either you have good judgment or you don't. I was once in Nordstrom's Collectors department, and the SA admired my coat and asked whose it was. When I said Odille from Anthropologie (and my tone was yes, didn't I find something great for a great price!), she sniffed Oh! and turned on her heel

OK, babe, so approximately 1.25 seconds ago you loved it, and now you don't? Could it be that you are disappointed that I'm a savvy customer who may not be sending your commissions through the roof today, or what is the problem here?
i cannot agree more. style choices -- good or bad -- should have nothing to do with the label. however, that label clouds the judgement on both sides of the aisle. you have people scoff at wearing last season's jimmy choos who live in fleabag apartments with no furniture because they can't afford it. on the other hand, you have those who belittle you for wearing jimmy choos at all even though they just dropped several thousand for a no-name artist's piece for their living room. it works both ways and i believe it signals insecurity on the part of the person who judges.

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28-09-2009
  3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlasianOne View Post
Or $1500 For A Plain Grey Tee
I totally agree.

However, with brands like Balmain, where the cost is incredibly high yet only reflect some of the pieces, it's mainly brand image too.

For example, the most expensive pieces often have large amounts of hand-embroidery and all use Swarovski crystals (not incredibly expensive either i know), as well as high quality fabrics. If you've ever seen a Balmain piece in the flesh, they are really well made and definitely a piece of high quality fashion (although many would still say that they are still overpriced).

Then compare that their slightly cheaper, simpler items. Obviously, even with the jewels and embroidery, a tank top can never be worth £1000 upwards, but when you're selling jackets for £5000 and dresses for £15,000 (nearly couture prices!), why would you sell a tank top for a normal price? It just doesn't fit into the brand image. Not only that, when you're expecting people to pay thousands for the bigger pieces, the smaller pieces are reasonably priced in comparison (although still overpriced).

It's the same with almost all high-end brands, but Balmain is especially expensive.

The idea of clothing being overpriced is totally relative and it only really arises when something costs much more than people would want to pay or much more than they think something is worth.

I was planning on writing a short reply but I guess I had a lot to say

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10-10-2009
  4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeijames View Post
andy warhol is the most overpriced label. i mean, it's just paint and canvas.
Quote:
frank gehry is the most overpriced brand. i mean, those buildings are built with the same materials as every other building.
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also, maserati...i mean, $200k for a car when you can just get a honda for $12k? what's the point?
please.

You keep making the exact same posts, with the exact same fallacious analogies. What's your point?

There are a few things that determine pricing, among them: demand and customer flexibility, value of the brand "exclusivity factor", marketing, and direct costs to do with the material, the skill of the creator, the rarity of the good in question.

I think you're confusing (and conflating) those aspects that relate to VALUE and those aspects that relate to MARKETING.

An Andy Warhol has value because of the skill of the artist, the price of any painting is due to whatever artistic merit, reputation of the artist - determining the "value" of the painting. Material costs don't fact or in.

The value of a Maserati similarly has aspects of marketing value (ie. branding) and also due to the actual features of the car- design, motoring, engineering, craftsmanship.

The complaints common here in this thread point to the fact that the marketing of the brand often grossly overtakes the value of the clothing. The criticism is that there is little value, or unsubstantiated value.

Tell me, what artistry do you see in Balmain's $2000+ ripped jeans? If it were woven with magical fairy hair by Santa then sure, i could understand the overpriced value. But as it is, those jeans can be substituted by a pair of GAP jeans and apart from the label in the back pocket, no one would notice a difference. THAT's the critique.

The analogy with art or maserati's don't work, because no one is going to confuse a Warhol with a sketch my cousin did. Just as no one is going to confuse a beaten up Honda for a Maserati.

However one may very well look at a ripped plain American Apparel shirt and see it as identical to a ripped plain Blamain shirt (or whatever overpriced designer looking to make a buck off brand-hos).

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10-10-2009
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^my point, as you just said, is that the materials, construction, and all that don't matter in conspicuous consumption. it's ALL about exclusivity. the warhol hanging on my wall is a pixel by pixel reproduction of the original sprayed onto canvas with digital precision ....but it costs but a trifle compared to its original. the balmain jean costs that much because it's exclusive and everyone on this thread knows that. the fact that gap and american apparel hire fashion majors out of college to diligently and studiously copy those designs only emphasizes that fact. in the era of designer jeans, a four hundred dollar pair of true religious barely raises an eyebrow in most metropolitan circles and hardly buys one any semblence of exclusivity. one balmain jean shuts the place down. a five hundred dollar theory black jacket might not even get a table at an exclusive restaurant while a balmain jacket wouldn't need reservations.

people buy balmain jeans for the same reason they live in $11.5M apartments in richard meier buildings, drive $200k lamborghinis, and have $1.2M twomblys hanging on their walls. i don't understand why balmain causes all of this stir in the fashion community when most in that same community regularly swallow the pricepoints of every other aspect of the luxury lifestyle. the inside of a private jet doesn't feel all that different than a commercial one does. they're just less people around.

honestly, in thirty years when the costume institute puts together a retrospective exhibit about the naughties, do you think they're going to have mannequins dressed in gap jeans or balmain jeans?

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10-10-2009
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I get what you mean, I really do. Particuarly re: consumption and marketing, 2 huge factors in today's society. However I find (personally) that certain status symbols have more value, and that certain things do have a level of substance that underpins more than just marketing rhetoric and psychology.

I mean I would happily pay through the nose for art, rare books, and truffles. To me, its worth it for the irreplaceable experience of those things. Whereas imo, ripped jeans are ripped jeans - unless I find the Balmain ones particularly well cut, I would feel ripped off (no pun intended) paying more for it. As i stressed in my previous post, its about that substitute factor - if I can easily find a substitute for a certain product, and the two things are interchangeable in terms of the pleasure/utility that it affords me then I would go for the cheaper one. That's why I would pay for expensive stationery over k-mart stationery, it offers something I can't replace without decreased pleasure. Whereas certain items of clothing, i wouldn't care if i bought it from Gap, Zara or [ insert high priced designer].

I just don't think its fair to say that everyone who dislikes Balmain (to cite an over-cited example) is unable to understand the value or property of luxury goods.

Obviously people value things differently - if someone feels that what they get from $2000 jeans is irreplaceable, then all that matters is that that particular consumer feels justified in that purchase. I'm not going to judge. However people do differ in what they consider important and replaceable - and i think its important to be able to let people be. If they feel indignant that some items of clothing (particularly basics) are sky high in price, then i think that's justified as well.

Its all a matter of priorities and different conceptions of values.

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12-10-2009
  7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ponytrot View Post
I get what you mean, I really do. Particuarly re: consumption and marketing, 2 huge factors in today's society. However I find (personally) that certain status symbols have more value, and that certain things do have a level of substance that underpins more than just marketing rhetoric and psychology.

I mean I would happily pay through the nose for art, rare books, and truffles. To me, its worth it for the irreplaceable experience of those things. Whereas imo, ripped jeans are ripped jeans - unless I find the Balmain ones particularly well cut, I would feel ripped off (no pun intended) paying more for it. As i stressed in my previous post, its about that substitute factor - if I can easily find a substitute for a certain product, and the two things are interchangeable in terms of the pleasure/utility that it affords me then I would go for the cheaper one. That's why I would pay for expensive stationery over k-mart stationery, it offers something I can't replace without decreased pleasure. Whereas certain items of clothing, i wouldn't care if i bought it from Gap, Zara or [ insert high priced designer].

I just don't think its fair to say that everyone who dislikes Balmain (to cite an over-cited example) is unable to understand the value or property of luxury goods.

Obviously people value things differently - if someone feels that what they get from $2000 jeans is irreplaceable, then all that matters is that that particular consumer feels justified in that purchase. I'm not going to judge. However people do differ in what they consider important and replaceable - and i think its important to be able to let people be. If they feel indignant that some items of clothing (particularly basics) are sky high in price, then i think that's justified as well.

Its all a matter of priorities and different conceptions of values.
To me, you're pointing up a different value system than that of exclusivity ... you're talking about inherent value and aesthetics.

If all one cares about is exclusivity and status, and has money to burn, then clearly the Balmain jeans are the way to go.

I guess I choose to pay more in two cases ... one is the shopping experience. Yes, it may be that many drugstore items are equivalent to those you buy in department stores (a persistent rumor that I honestly doubt), but there's no denying the shopping experience is different. At the dept store, I can try everything, take samples home, and get 'expert' (I hope) advice. At the drugstore, I better be prepared to figure it out myself--and to buy the item several times to get the color right, canceling out whatever I may have saved (and probably more).

When it comes to different price points, I buy luxury items when the quality, design, or both can't be replicated at a lower price point. If you want Bottega quality leather, you pretty much have to go there ... but I certainly wouldn't buy that haircomb.

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21-11-2009
  8
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It's an odd thing. Clearly there is something to be said for almost all of the fashion we love being, well...overpriced. This is not to take away for the stunning achievements our favorite designers do with construction or the fine materials (well some of them use fine materials anyway) they use. That said, it's really hard to justify the prices of things even with all that knowledge in mind. This is one of the predominant reasons that 90% of my wardrobe is vintage.

What irks me most, in terms of "who is the most overpriced" usually falls in line with something being overpriced for what it is. I can wrap my head around gowns made by Oscar De La Renta qualifying their price tag, but the $800.00 glorified T shirt creations of Alexander Wang? Not so much. Those Balmain pieces, lustworthy as they are when you first see them, do not qualify their outrageous price tags, especially seeing as how the look screams trend. A season or two from now, those signature pagoda shoulders of his, will be deemed irrelevant, and someone would have sunk the price tag of a time share rental into one of those jackets. I have ironically less issue with the price tags of the Gucci Fall 09 jackets and suiting options, than I do with the Balmain stuff, if only because I see the ability to recycle those looks in the future.

Another irksome issue, is the filler pieces in collections bearing preposterous price tags, like the $300.00 tank top that so many people put into a collection to fill out a complete look. I am sorry, anyone who pays $300.00 for a tank top, be it made of silk, satin, cotton, knit or otherwise, needs their head examined. The $1000.00 belt, is another irksome issue. The cost to make most of the belts we love, even the ones encrusted with studs, stones, and the likes, are a pittance compared to the sale tag. A family friend for years worked in the leather goods industry and used to tell me "it takes NOTHING to make a belt, NOTHING. At most the costs are upwards to $30.00 and the cost of labor not much more, as we have machines and hand tools that do these things quickly. It's almost better to just make your own belts.

So, in a marketplace dominated by abhorrently expensive things, I would make the argument that right now Balmain is quite possibly the most overpriced. That said for what he does, I'd also argue that Alexander Wang is as well. At least Decarnin makes more interesting clothes.

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28-11-2009
  9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeijames View Post
^again, one has to place balmain within the context of the overall luxury experience. a luxury rental on either coast in this country fetches an easy $20k/month. we're talking two bedrooms here. while it's okay to spend $120k without thinking on a man's mid-life crisis sports car or $12k for summer riding camp for the child, why do we deny women the same indulgence? sure, $15k is a lot for this coat, but if you've got it, why not? in my mind, it has more historical significance than just another birkin, fur coat, or diamond bauble.

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there are two areas of luxury that become hard to justify. fashion and food. food turns to...well....you know what, and you have only the memory of the experience to go by. fashion is so ever-changing and transient that it's also hard to justify 12K purchases on one item that will invariably see the backside of your closet. the condo and the car are easier to justify because of daily use. sure they may be flashy but you'll drive your car and live in the condo. you might not pop out that 12K Balmain jacket every day. A good way to consider luxury is times per usage. Spending a ton of dough on something you will use a ton, is a great investment.

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29-11-2009
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Hypothetically, if I were to spend $15,000 on a jacket, I would buy something that actually looks like it costs $15,000. Yes, that Balmain military jacket is very cool, but I could go to the local army surplus store and buy a coat that looks very similar and is actually authentic. In fact, I bought one yesterday for five dollars ! I understand that Balmain is the brand of the moment and that the jacket is basically a collector's piece, but for 15 k, I would MUCH rather have a true luxury item like, say, a Gucci leather and fur biker jacket, not a trendy topper that is likely to be copied by every high-street store imaginable. But that is just me.

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10-02-2010
  11
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Originally Posted by Drusilla_ View Post
^ can't comment on cars, but I guess if you're rich enough, nothing can be truly 'overpriced'.

Even if I suddenly had all the money in the world (God forbid!), I would never feel that way, personally.

I have always calculated the fairness of designer prices via the old rule that a R-T-W designer item (depending on brand) should cost, in the region of, 3 to 5 times that of its non-designer equivalent.

The purpose of allowing this multiple is, obviously, to comfortably cover all the added expenses associated with running a successful R-T-W house (shows, advertising, schmoozing celebs, prime real estate, highly paid head designer etc.).

On that basis, to be fairly priced at $2,205, the leopard print Balmain T-Shirt, above, would have had to have retailed at, at least, $441 had it been a non-designer item; which would seem pretty unlikely, to me, even if it had been handmade in France, or Italy...?

Please correct me if I'm wrong but it seems, to me, that it would have been far more likely to have been priced at about a 10th of that and therefore, as a R-T-W designer item, should retail for between about $132 and $220?

Many designers are breaking all the long-accepted pricing rules, these days - I'm not sure why they're doing it, but I can only assume that (in addition to being allowed to get away with it, by people who are, clearly, not aware of the old rules!) it often has to do with being able to appear to deep discount, at the end of the season (for those who do), whilst still taking as much, or more, than they would have, had they priced more reasonably at the beginning?

I find it all very off-putting.

Although I like a true bargain, of course (who doesn't?!), most of these bargains aren't true, so if I really like something I'd, generally, rather pay a fair amount for it at the beginning of the season, than the same amount, or very slightly less (or more!), at the end.

Having said all that, Balmain could be worse - they could be LV!

At least Balmain does finally go on sale - whereas, don't LV destroy, at least some of, their unsold items?

That's just one of the many reasons I can't imagine ever buying anything LV.

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15-06-2010
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these great chanel leather pants? $8,510.



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15-06-2010
  13
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^Chanel pricing are ridiculous but I think people pay as much for the garment as they pay for the customer service.
They treat their clients very, very well.

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16-06-2010
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As it's been said, Chanel is not a brand of which we can say the prices are all that overhyped.
Quality is impeccable, they ensure a constant brand buzz that is in no way cheap (how much does it cost to fly an army of +30 topmodels to the other side of the world, for an average 1/2 minute on the runway?), and they treat customers extremely well.
Chanel doesn't just hand you a glass of champagne when you are a client. They throw events and parties to which you are invited, send Christmas gifts (perfumes, flowers, silk squares...), they welcome you to visit their showrooms, late store openings... they keep a very VERY close relationship with a large number of their clients (this is not just a TOP10 big spenders kind of thing).

Whoever decides to buy the infamous pair of leather pants, opens the doors to all of that i am sure (presuming of course, that this is not the kind of 'myfirst-myoneandonly' chanel investemt) and I say for some people, all of these things Chanel gives back to them can be worth more than the $8000 they are charged for the pants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squizree View Post
^ Really? The Beverly Hills branch was very ordinary service last time I went. I mean yeah they're helpful but it's not exactly worship. And even if they are the best service in town, I don't think it justifies the price. How much did it cost to make those pants? $50?
On a side note, I don't think it has ever been commented how that's a question people ask quite lightly... (not personally talking about you Squizree, you were just the last one to ask)
i mean, are we talking full or direct, are we measuring how 'rich' the company gets in terms of gross margins, or looking beyond indirect costs, do we care about the other competitors prices or not, how do we quantify utility, opportunity costs, reservation prices...
the whole science of pricing... it is not at all simple!!!

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17-06-2010
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^that's part of the exclusivity of these items. i really don't think people understand how much that figures into the world of high fashion these days. a woman will spend more to not see her garment on one of her peers. also, as you mention, more and more, they're buying into a lifestyle. it's all a part of the experience. modern men and women aren't buying just for the quality or just for the exclusivity or just for brand image or just for the star treatment. they're sophisticated enough to buy for it all. and how do you put a price on that? well, that's the enitre business of the luxury experience -- and it's really bigger than fashion in the end -- and so much more goes into it than cost of the material.

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