Generally speaking I think it’s fair to say most things are affordable if they are purchased individually without comparison to any opportunity cost. By this I mean dropping $1,000 is relatively easy if there were no other obligations or desires (I think I may have said something similar previously in another post).
This only becomes a challenge when forced to choose and compromise how to best spend said money due to a constantly increasing number of choices. For me, the easiest way to navigate this conundrum is to focus on ‘value’ and then let the rest sort itself out. This usually holds true for most things ranging from electronic items to travel experiences, heck even houses – which may seem overvalued but are really only getting started. However, one area where the value proposition doesn’t appear to hold true at moment is ‘fashion’.
It wasn’t too long ago there was a relatively established order by which you could decide how you felt about each brand and then align yourself accordingly (in the most positive way of course). Using a simple formula of pedigree, quality and hype, value could then be ascertained across the wide and confusing spectrum, which is ‘fashion’.
Recently, the trend of all things collaboration (and most notably luxe street wear) appears to have well and truly turned the value assessment completely upside down. After all, the day Supreme is worth $60,000 when it’s meant to represent a f* you attitude from the poor misunderstood skating community is one such example of how it’s quickly becoming impossible to distinguish value from overblown hype.
Despite the grossly inflated mark ups, I have no reservations dropping $$$$ on luxury cashmere sweaters or on a pair of well made boots. I even think some of the Supreme x Louis Vuitton items are generally worth their asking price, especially when you factor in the price for perceived pedigree.
What confounds me though is the large support base for the apparently unlimited amounts of pop up / underground collaborations which have crossed over into mainstream fashion. I can understand how this current trend encapsulates society largely wanting to move away from elitism but it is completely frustrating to see how the irony of paying elitist prices for ‘common person’ items appears to be completely lost on those who continually choose to purchase said items.
Additionally, while the large profit margins currently commanded due to exorbitant prices and often poor quality materials makes it an attractive proposition for the brands (read Vetements SS17), it seems completely irrational for so many of these collaborations to continuously stream out of the woodworks when capitalising on this unsustainable hype will eventually destroy the very culture which provides many of these brands with their ‘value’.
There is always an exception to the rule though. While not a collaboration, in the not too distant past the thought of owning or knowing someone who owned the ridiculous $800 Givenchy t-shirts would send on a rage bender. Back then I associated Givenchy as a clear example of overhyped garbage which was guilty of the three major sins when it comes to assessing value – high price, poor quality and riding on hype. Fast forward to today and it would be hard to find someone who didn’t regard Givenchy as fashion royalty. Kudos to them.
Interestingly, where as the traditional powerhouses (e.g. Louis Vuitton) have sought to maintain their aura of superiority (by increasing prices, restricting the quantities of each item and creating a clear divide between entry level and ‘higher’ end items), Givenchy’s fashion lines have stayed relatively constant even as the asking price of most ‘high end’ collaborations start to encroach on parity. Add in the fact the general quality of craftsmanship appears to have improved over the last few years, and Givenchy is starting to look undervalued…
Perhaps the one redeeming quality of the overhyped garbage currently flowing through the market place is the distraction they cause. While the masses are purchasing seasonal hype, this creates a temporary sweet spot in the market where traditional powerhouses may find themselves discounting items before they embark on the slippery slope of lowering the quality of their goods in subsequent seasons to remain competitive. After all, I doubt this pair of sneakers would have slipped through the web of resellers and purchase bots (computer programs designed to purchase items before anyone else can), at a 50% discount had the attention not been elsewhere.
This trend has enabled several ‘key items’ which are able to stay relevant throughout each fashion bubble to be acquired well below their true value. And that I have to say is how you obtain value.
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