Only an elite few can afford the above fashion items, however these are not the one of a kind, produced for runway only, couture items. These have been made for the ready-to-wear, everyday woman (all be it a rich one) to pair with her other “investment” pieces, the cheaper stuff (coming in at the 4 figure mark, spare change really!).
Mary Katrantzou’s FW14 sweater is made from glossy Saga Mink which is embroidered in gold bullion with the embroiderers being Hand & Lock, who also serve the royals. It retails at about £20,000, however getting down to the nitty-gritty of it, why was it necessary to create a sweatshirt that is so expensive?!
It is true that the cost of luxury goods has risen 60 percent in the last decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry points to the rising cost of raw materials like cotton and leather and increasing labor costs, but that’s only half the story.
Katrantzou says ” It was about taking an everyday garment and making it really stand out for its decorative nature and luxury value”.* I, however, think there has to be more to it than that. Perhaps it is a reaction to the high street stores who are knocking off designer pieces and are selling them to the masses. In order to keep the exclusivity of the pieces perhaps it is necessary to add those luxury touches that can’t be knocked off, such as the use of mink and gold thread.
Last year, at Louis Vuitton, there was the fear that, due to its under-performance, that the Louis Vuitton customer was losing their appetite for their luxury goods due to them being considered too “mass”. For this reason they introduced the Capucine bag, retailing at $4,600 USD and even with the long waiting list, they quickly sold-out all over Europe.
It is important to not just concentrate on the price tags, but also to consider the time and effort that goes into crafting each of these pieces. For example Delpozo employs a full-time embroiderer from the celebrated Maison Lesage in Paris, and pieces in the collection require an extreme amount of handwork. Pieces may be expensive, but you get what you pay for.
The craftsmanship of these pieces is undeniable, but unfortunately for me and millions of others the price is still comparable to the price of a small car or even a down-payment on an apartment. I would not consider these “investment” pieces as I couldn’t save for one of these pieces in a life-time, never mind a season. I hate to say it but I think I will be making my way to the nearest ZARA & Co for the best offering of an imitation.
*Quote from British Vogue September 2014