Thoughts on Fashion Waste, the State of "Luxury" Goods Today, and on Price Hikes


The recent Louis Vuitton monogram canvas objects “created” in collaboration with “artists” have become something of an eyesore to traditionalists but are deemed “cool objets d’art” to own to the LV diehard young ‘uns. Some of these pieces go into the tens/hundreds of thousands in the secondary market. Honestly, I fail to understand this, but hey maybe I’m not cool enough to get it — and I’m comfortable with that But I also refuse to be wasteful with my hard-earned money for something I can’t appreciate let alone understand.

There is so much fashion garbage created today, and brands continue to spend €€€ in convincing consumers of their pledge to become more sustainable. Check out brand websites and go through the number of SKUs they have on bags alone and multiply each with quantities manufactured (and readily available for purchase) per style. Brands contradict these sustainability promises by continuing to churn out ugly merchandise, most of which won’t sell anyway and will only trickle down to outlets and discount stores. And many of these merchandise may still remain unsold even after huge markdowns. A recent visit to a handful of warehouse-sized outlets of department stores and then seeing all the unsold merchandise only affirms the fact that brands are nowhere near fulfilling their sustainability promise to a growing number of environmentally-conscious consumers. Sustainability, you say? Then why not stop producing more fashion garbage?

This is the sad state of the industry today. We are sold the promise of a luxury item from big brands that weave beautiful stories about their heritage and core values. But the ugly truth is this: to them it isn’t about offering us luxury. Core values? It boils down to commerce. It’s about them making money, lots of it. So before you buy that next “luxury” bag, think hard. Are you really willing to spend $6,000 on a new Chanel classic flap? $3,000 on an LV monogram canvas (take note, not leather) bag? Because the real luxury in this equation is just your ability to afford and to pay for something expensive. But what you’re getting back, though expensive, is no longer a “luxury” item.

Companies have been trying to cut costs through the years while continuing to increase their margins. But why do we see brands consistently increase their prices once or twice a year? Because of higher cost in labor/materials? That’s what they say, but no. The truth is far removed from the press release. Because they have gotten to know the psychology behind consumer behavior very well. Because they know consumers like us are all so drunk on the idea that we are buying a “luxury” item, thanks to all those big-budget ad campaigns that have successfully convinced us. Because at the end of the day, while we will complain about the price hike, we will still buy the item.

So what’s next for our favorite brands like Louis Vuitton, after “creating” a monogram canvas airplane, a monogram canvas carrot key fob/ pouch, and the latest, a monogram canvas duck bag? How about creating monogram canvas bags or charms in the shapes of the 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac for the next Lunar New Year? That’ll definitely sell well. And perhaps work on another Takashi Murakami collaboration and create a cheeky multicolor “poop emoji” bag? Perfect companion for a customized monogram canvas toilet bowl, no?