When it comes to looking at retail prices, nothing quite skews the average sales figures like luxury designer brands. A single designer logo can increase the price of one garment (of the same quality and materials) tenfold, with people keen to show the world that they’re sporting the latest from Luis Vuitton or Chanel.
But are these brands really worth the money? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of high-end designer good rose by an eye-watering 60% between 2003 and 2013, and they have continued increasing in the years since then. Obviously these price rises way outstrip inflation, and the increase in the cost of materials doesn’t nearly account for such a substantial hike in retail prices. In many cases, the prices are going up simply because people are willing to pay relatively large sums for designer items, and the brands are cashing in.
There is no doubt that the quality of construction and materials used on say a Hermes bag or pair of Chanel sunglasses is much higher than the equivalent high street product, but this doesn’t nearly account for the retail pricing, yet people are willing to part with their money regardless.
It would seem that the answer lies in our desire to present a certain image to the outside world, and we’re willing to hand over inordinate sums of money to portray something about our spending power, social status and sense of style. According to a study from the Netherlands, it would appear this approach works too. Rob Nelissen and Mrijn Meijers found that logos, particularly those of expensive brands, can make a person seem more approachable, and even help them when it comes to landing new jobs. Essentially, people equate designer logos to quality, and that extends to the person wearing them.
So in terms of quality and craftsmanship, although designer brands are leagues above their high-street equivalents, they’re not really worth the price tag. However throw in the social currency and the fact that many top-end designer goods hold their value (or even increase, making them a sound investment), it would seem that luxury designer goods may indeed be worth their price tag.