Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Conspicuous (-ly stupid) consumption

Some interesting thoughts on the 'smoke and mirrors' of luxury consumerism from Access Asia (via Boing Boing) in a review of Dana Thomas's new book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre.

From the review:

An increasing number of brands manufacture in China. Those luxury handbags women crave? Mostly now invariably made in China, though manufacturers sign strict confidentiality agreements with the brands never to reveal this fact. Several Guangdong factories make bags for a range of brands you pay fortunes for – hence a nice 15% minimum margin on bags. Access Asia was recently in a Chinese factory where the same workers on the same production line were making US$2,000 bags for an Italian brand, and US$35 bags for JC Penney, at the same time. Ever wondered why Coach has so many stores in China? Easy – they make virtually all their bags here. Prada, LV, Furla – all now largely made in China. And that’s where the cost cutting starts, and then continues, with no linings and cheaper thread, glue rather than stitching, as well as cheap labour. Still feeling classy? And typical mark ups on bags once you move to China? Think roughly under US$100 to make a bag, which then retails for US$1,200 upwards. Still think you’ve bought status? And it’s also the high-end ties and scarves. About US$25 max to make in China, and retailing for somewhat more. Still feel exclusive? Or just conned?

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