Luxury brands – Vulgarity and Quality. Why Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Schiaparelli, Dolce Gabbana and many others loosing their quality and choosing vulgarity. Article by Eleonora de Gray, Editor-in-Chief of RUNWAY MAGAZINE.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun!”
The new fashion season is about to begin. There’s also the new start to move forward, and there’s also few subjects to see before we go any further. More than half of the world has or dreaming about luxury objects in their wardrobe. Shoes, bags, dresses and coats, belts and sunglasses delivered to the market by luxury brand are highly desirable and wanted.
Let’s say the luxury garments are the concept of XX century, usually comes with the certain common sense related to the quality and high end design. Let’s check the dictionary. The word “luxury” originated from the Latin word luxuria, which means exuberance, excess, abundance. So luxury fashion is characterized by high price points. Ideally, this high price point is justified by the quality of the item, which will typically use higher quality materials, design, and craftsmanship in its production. Luxury brands are regarded as images in the minds of consumers that comprise associations about a high level of price, quality, aesthetics, and rarity.
Any luxury brand should be evaluated by the constitutive characteristics of luxury, which are summarized by the following principles:
- Price: The brand offers products which belong to the most expensive products of their category.
- Quality: The brand offers everlasting top-of-the-line products, which won’t be disposed of even after long utilization or defect, but rather repaired and which often even gain in value over time.
- Aesthetics: The brand behaves like a chic and vain dandy, who would never leave the house in less than perfect style. Whenever and wherever the brand is seen, it embodies a world of beauty and elegance.
- Rarity: In contrast to mass-market brands, the brand needs to limit its production and tries not to disclose its (high) sales numbers. The brand plays hard to get and is not available at all times or places.
- Extraordinariness: The brand has a mind and style of its own and its products offer a “kick” and surprise with the “expected unexpected.”
- Symbolism: The brand stands for “the best from the best for the best”; its charisma fills the room, and regardless of whether it is of a conspicuous or understated nature, deep inside, it is swollen with pride.
Do the characteristics of luxury still stand?
After checking known marketers like Kotler, or Kapferer, or Meffert and Lasslop, let’s see if these identifications still stand:
- Price: Oh YES, that is well standing. Nothing could change that. Although besides of high price is anything else luxury brands of today are capable to provide?
- Quality: The statement about everlasting top-of-the-line products is way far fetched… unfortunately. Products proposed today by luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana for example, are very low quality, and if they are not kept under glass cloche “just to look at” and used couple of times they got torn and deformed. And as it appears today Dolce &Gabbana don’t take any responsibilities for the replacement or repair. I’ll give couple of examples in the chapter dedicated to Quality.
- Aesthetics: This is complicated subject, as aesthetics have different understanding of the concept in different social classes and groups. And the concept is getting even more vague when it comes to embodiment of beauty and elegance. Traditional concept of beauty and elegance blurred during the last 40 years, and the most ugliest things like crocks today could be considered as beautiful and elegant as they can be by certain social class or group formed by preference in music or lifestyle. For example luxury brands like Chanel, Dior or Balenciaga have crocks in mass production and available in all stores. Cultural concepts of beauty and elegance multiplied over last 20 years so much that today for some people “chunky bottoms” considered as a beautiful, and shaking them is highly elegant – “Yo, man”! What in past was considered as vulgar today became the first preference of luxury brands. I’ll give many example of this preference in the chapter dedicated to Vulgarity.
- Rarity: Well, this characteristic is also no longer standing. Luxury brands are indeed hiding high sales, but the luxury items are no longer rare. They are available at all times, on sale quiet often and produced in mass production. Example – Chanel ballerines or ballet flats with logo and black toe cap (design by Karl Lagerfeld) has been top seller year after year for the last 40-50 years, and has been produced and sold by hundreds of millions, and they are always available in Chanel store for the price 1000 € or so.
- Extraordinariness: The luxury brands trying so hard to be creative, offer a “kick” and surprise with the “expected unexpected”, although with the rush for mass- sales they often lose everything. Even worse, the luxury brands today do not hesitate to copy other brands and their products which had massive success on the market, and losing their identity in the process, together with quality and pride. I often bring this subject in RUNWAY MAGAZINE to our readers. The most known and shameless copy-maker is Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain, who announces his copies of Karl Lagerfeld, Thierry Mugler, Hermes, Jean Paul Gaultier or Pierre Cardin as his own creations. Read more about it in these articles: “Mirror Mirror on Runway…” , and “Balmain Cruise 2021 Resort by Olivier Rousteing “Papa Copy-Catto”. New managing director of Dolce & Gabbana Alfonso Dolce decided to take this road recently and last collections are filled with the copies of Jeremy Scott, Chanel, Philipp Plein, Moncler & Pierpaolo Piccioli. Read more about it in “Dolce Gabbana Men Fall 2021-2022 Plagiarism”.
- Symbolism: The luxury brands should stand for “the best from the best for the best”. It should but no longer does in many cases, due to the completely lost identity or DNA, as we call it, detachment from the original meaning of the concept created by a founder and loved by public in the past. They are many sad examples. The first which comes to mind is Christian Dior. Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of Dior, turned high class of the founder Christian Dior into tassels, fringes, clobbers, pleads, simple covering muted together into some army inspired jackets, coupled up with monkey slippers, crocks and army boots. Read more about it in “Christian Dior Fall-Winter 2020-2021“. She brought to Dior “Bobo Italian” style, which has nothing to do with the original identity, but she increased the sales by producing the bags. Men collection of Dior is not better. Today it is “Dior Cactus Jack” in Texas style. “Y’all’s Dior Utopia,” – said Travis Scott spitting on the floor, rapper, who was invited to collaborate for this collection. Read more about it in “Dior Spring Summer 2022 Men“. Another sad example is Givenchy. After departure of it’s founder Hubert de Givenchy in 2018 this brand got completely lost it’s spirit and went for grunge abandoning the clients who loved classy looks in the style of Audrey Hepburn. Read more about this loss and sad deformation in “Givenchy Resort 2022″.
Many general managers of luxury brands today don’t understand that the luxury brand is not only about its logo or monogram, it’s about creative heritage, style and impeccable recognizable style, quality and extraordinary design and craft. Creative heritage made the luxury brand famous and loved, nothing else. Losing this it’s like losing a massive chunk of a culture destroyed by barbarians, or simply a spine, or meaning of life. They are acting as barbarians themselves, they are savagely cruel, exceedingly brutal to the identity and symbolism of the luxury brand. Their management is simply primitive, and reduced to the use of its assets like logo or monogram for example on anything which could be sold, including caps, or wax and jean. But here we are.
This article I’d like to dedicate to this brutal barbarian management, and show examples that whatever luxury brands we have today, they are no longer worth attention, as there’s no primary characteristics of luxury except prices of course has left.
Luxury brands – QUALITY
There’s nothing luxurious in low quality, rude and ignorant reception by customer care services. But here we are. Today many luxury brands bring the quality down, as lower as possible, produce with independent manufacturers in China, demand maximum reduced cost. As surprising as it could be.
Let’s try simple quest. When you buy shoes or glasses on street market for 20$ or 20€ you don’t really expect anything. You don’t expect quality, you don’t expect luxury materials or creative “kick”. You know it is plastic and cheap fabric, and it’s good if it lasts a season (3 months). You are surprised if it lasts longer, and even happy about it.
But how about shoes or glasses for 900$ or 900€ from luxury brand? You still know that it is a plastic, but you expect this plastic or fabric to be eco-friendly and advanced in technology, super comfortable etc. Check “kicks” from streetwear brands like Adidas and Nike. Very impressive what these brands can do just with plastic and for very affordable price like 120$ or 120€ ! Even capsule collections with super creative “kick” don’t cost more than 300 .
Higher price you pay for an item, higher expectations you have. You might still have a creative “kick”, but not always. Suddenly you notice that it is “so last season”, or you’ve seen it somewhere else. How would you feel if your item from luxury brand after you proudly wear couple of times gets broken or torn? Sad… very sad. Normally you immediately go to the store or contact customer service online and tell about the problem. And as it was in the past in couple of days you get your item fixed or replaced. You pay high price – you get luxury service. Or if you are getting service online it might take a week or so before you get new item.
In the store you get you glass of champagne and new pair, or while it is fixed by special in-house service. You also get special promotion for any item you’d like to buy – everything for your satisfaction. And it was not even matter how much you paid – was it 3000$ shirt or 150$ ti-shirt. As long as you are in luxury house – quality is a priority, service is impeccable.
That was in the past. Little snagged thread in Missoni pants for 850€ was fixed immediately (as it was from an old collection and they didn’t have anymore the item in stoke), with immediate dry-cleaning in-house. I tried with ti-shirt of Dior for 150€ and snagged thread I made by clumsy movement- absolutely fabulous service. I got immediately new ti-shirt, I didn’t even need to show my purchase ticket. Luxury house knew their items, and knew how to handle the clients who buy even tiny fantasy ring.
But these stories are from the past. Today many luxury brands are still trying to keep the same pride and impeccable customer service. Although the quality of the products dramatically dropped. Livelihood of luxury brands like Chanel and Dior is their leather goods and glasses. So without doubt the bags, shoes and glasses are the first priority, and without doubt you can buy bags or glasses from these brands. And if there’s any problem even caused by you, even it was long time ago – the item will be fixed.
Although the clothing of Chanel and Dior is just an “animation” to the main products. So as a result the quality of the ready-to-wear pieces dropped dramatically: the cashmere pants after couple of times will have horrible baggy knees, jackets will be deformed, and don’t imagine anything about Dior dress, it’s just a simple cotton bought on flea market. So nothing to fantasies about. Brands like Zara or H&M do about the same thing.
But even if you still decided to buy Dior or Chanel jacket and after couple of times you surprised how deformed jacket got, remember the price you are paying to these luxury brands instead of buying in Zara the same thing is for LUXURY CUSTOMER SERVICE. And indeed when you address the issue to these luxury brands their customer service is still fabulous. All deformations will be fixed, dry-cleaned in-house, tailored if needed with champagne to accompany. And that’s what you gonna get for the price. So after all it doesn’t matter (for some buyers) if you wear your jacket or not – you are still satisfied. You are getting LUXURY SERVICE.
But this is not how it is today for all luxury brands. The one of the worst examples today is….. the winner is…. Dolce & Gabbana!!!!! As sad as it could be, this luxury brand for the last couple of years is no longer can be considered in any way as LUXURY. They still have creative “kicks” time to time with remaking their own designs from 90s, or reproducing designs from architects (with license of course), or even copying (design and concept) of other designers.
Checking online reviews you’ll be surprised how many negative reviews this brand has related to quality and service. Sunglasses breaks after wearing them several times, design elements are falling down. Their famous sneakers with applications and paintings getting torn after couple of times you wear them. The same about their garments. Row stitches are getting holes here and there on blouses, leopard double on black jackets is getting out… Then you think – ok, might be an accident. No matter, I love this brand, I’ll go to one of the stores and they will fix it with no time. That’s what you think…
Shhh… don’t forget about the quality. Dolce Gabbana brand is like Chanel and Dior has their main income from glasses, bags and shoes. So these products produced in masses, available in all stores, and should be highest quality, according to the price 500-900€. That’s what you think, and that’s what I thought. Although if you buy sneakers today from Dolce Gabbana expect wear them couple of times, and don’t you dare to wear them in rain! Then of course you can be sure they will be torn and deformed. That’s the quality you are going to get from Dolce Gabbana today… something like sneakers for 20€…. So then ask yourself – does it really worth to buy from this brand?!
And what about the Dolce Gabbana customer service you might ask? There’s…. NO SERVICE. You bought – you go home, that’s all about it. You have problem? Fix somewhere else, at your own tailor or cobbler, and don’t bother Dolce Gabbana service with your inquiries. You wore your garment or sneakers ones – that’s all, you torn them because you badly use them. Basta!
Do you think this is a joke? Nope, that’s the answer from customer service you are going to get, spiced up with “We are sorry to hear about this inconvenience you are experiencing.” You think that this answer you can get because you bought your item in Milan and then you try to see the store in Paris? Nope, all of them send you to contact customer service online. And there’s no matter if you have receipt or not.
You think you can get something like this because you just carelessly threw away your receipt? “They are DG sneakers, but we are not able to help you , because you don’t have receipt and also because it has been a long time and they are not repairable.” Nope, even if you have your receipt, even if you bought you 850€ sneakers couple of month ago, even if you wore them ones, even if you take photos of box, tickets, printed labels, 10 photos face and profile… you are going to get the same answer. NO SERVICE! Fix yourself!
My personal experiment. I’m passionate enough, and I waited almost 1 month, received tons of automated emails from Dolce Gabbana customer service. This time I made purchase online, so transaction is very well traceable. No matter. The outcome is the same. Oh yes, this time I got daily automated emails: “Thank you for contacting Dolce&Gabbana Online Store Customer Service. We are very sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you. We appreciate your understandings in this matter. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Customer Care team for any further information.” 1 MONTH!!!! That is luxury service indeed!!!! What is missing? The music and “Your call is very important to us, please listen 40 min flute solo”!
I of course fixed my sneakers at my local cobbler, but Dolce Gabbana customer service still keeps writing me the same automated emails on daily basis. Sad… very sad. UNSATISFACTION! Even if I like the design and my wardrobe is full of Dolce Gabbana pieces, I feel disrespected, treated badly by a luxury brand where I spent a little fortune. And I have no desire to wear brand who disrespects me so much. Well… apparently this is the meaning of LUXURY BY DOLCE GABBANA today – look but don’t buy! But let’s leave them there, where they belong. Dolce Gabbana today are getting so many bad publicity that is rarely known on luxury market, the sales dropped dramatically, no matter how hard new CEO is trying to get to Hollywood and all rappers there. Well deserved, I must say!
Shocking isn’t it? But the best is yet to come in the next “chunky” chapter about vulgarity.
Luxury brands – VULGARITY
Back to the dictionary again. Because we need this one to understand why luxury brands choose the most vulgar ways to present their products, and most vulgar people to represent them.
Definition of VULGARITY:
Vulgarity is the quality of being common, coarse, or unrefined. This judgement may refer to language, visual art, social class, or social climbers. And another: Vulgarity is the quality of being crude and lacking refinement. One more from Cambridge: Vulgarity is the quality of not being appropriate, simple, or beautiful, or not in the style preferred by rich or well- educated people. Vulgarity is the quality of being rude and likely to upset or anger people, especially by referring to sex or the body, or something such as a phrase that is rude in this way.
Let me also drop you this quotation. I can’t agree more :
“Luxury is not the opposite of poverty, but the opposite of vulgarity.”
I’d like to start this very “chunky” chapter with driving your attention to Instagram. Did you notice that this is some sort of “Can of worms”? I have an impression that daily users lost understanding that there’s a world outside of Instagram. And there you can actually see everything, and know latest news.
I noticed that many luxury brands are no longer using other social media networks or simply checking Google and see what is going on – everything is on Instagram. They look for the new designers, new influencers or singers – on Instagram. They check what others say about them only on Instagram. They consider media or influencers based only on the number of followers, as all of it is REAL. But nothing really is.
There’s no secret that almost all luxury brands, all so called “influencers” buy fake followers from third parties to let other users of Instagram know, and apparently for themselves, that they are popular and famous. Number of followers is everything! That should be considered as a virtual money after all… just kidding… Journalist Nick Bilton conducted fabulous experiment and filmed a documentary “Fake Famous”. That documentary should be some sort of textbook for luxury brands, as many are still not aware of what is really going on.
And as a result luxury brands today are still looking for the influencers, singers, and any other Instagram “popular” persons with huge number of followers on Instagram to propose them their products to promote. And their choice mainly goes to rap singers. Some of them have huge number like 153 million followers, with 9000 number of likes on every post. Strangely small number, by the way…
I’d like to give a little parentheses. I have nothing against rap or hip-hop music cultures, neither against people who represent these cultures, neither against singers or musicians. It’s not my thing, but of course I’m tolerant to it. Some of the musical tunes I like and appreciate, and some of them not. I understand that there are people who love these performers and performances. I’m not one of them, but I understand and I appreciate if I actually hear a poetry or music. This article is not against them, nothing to do with racisms, nothing against green or pink colors, or anything outside of the subject: luxury brands and vulgarity.
Two things I’m certain about that I’d never build main RUNWAY MAGAZINE communication and promotion on that public target, and I’d never count on the followers of a rap singers to buy my products simply because they are outside of their interest, they don’t correspond to them, and they can’t afford them after all. They can buy a beer and interested where’s something chunky… probably that’s all about it.
But it goes so far from luxury and everything else related to it. Why luxury brands don’t propose to classic music singers or musicians to promote their products, by the way? I can assure you that man or a woman who listen today a classic music is definitely capable to buy very expensive car or garment. Maybe followers on Instagram of a baritone or soprano are numbered, but a luxury brand can be sure that each and every follower is definitely their target. And they are millions of them… not always on Instagram of course.
It looks like the luxury brands today got lost. They are very attracted by number of the fake followers on instagram of so called “influencers” and rap singer, even these numbers don’t bring any sales, and in fact actually getting massive losses of their second or third generation of customers, and dropping number of the sales.
“Do you have a beer and the roasted chick, by the way? No? What kind of luxury brand you are?“
Many luxury brands don’t understand the demands and financial capacities of the target they choose today with the rap singers. These demands are not related to the luxury. And the people who are following influencers and rap singers simply don’t have interest and capacities to buy their products. Do you really want me to describe who follow the influencers? Horny men who are not on the Instagram to buy something for their wife. Who follow the rap singers? Also horny men, who ask for something “chunky” to m…. on.
“I like ’em big,
I like ’em chunky
I like ’em big,
I like ’em plumpy
I like ’em round,
with somethin something
They like my sound,
they think I’m funky…”
Big And Chunky lyrics by will.i.am – music Hans Zimmer – film “Madagascar 2: Escape from Africa”
And I like will.i.am, by the way. He is highly intelligent and has a great sense of humor, and he doesn’t take himself seriously.
I understand when a rap singer comes to a luxury brand and orders some custom costume, this is a client, and this is one thing. But I don’t understand when a luxury brand so desperate to offer to a rap singer its garments, so desperate to advertise with her to their devoted public the garments is totally another.
The first on my “list of horrors” is Schiaparelli, the Haute Couture Parisian luxury brand, which was for long time forgotten , reformed and reconstructed, and finally found new artistic director in 2019, a Texan Daniel Roseberry, who gave a new breath to the brand. Daniel Roseberry took a year or so to get into the archives, study the patterns, and get into the spiritual and creative heritage of the brand, known for its surrealistic roots from the beginning of XX century.
By the end of 2020 Daniel Roseberry got his first success by creating the garments for Michelle Obama and Kim Kardashian. The greatest triumph was a custom gown for Lady Gaga during her performance at Inauguration of President Joe Biden. But right after something got off the rails… starting with the costumes for sadomasochists performers, rap-singers… and for the last 6 months luxury brand Schiaparelli found itself on the stages where it shouldn’t probably be… some of the critics predicted it. But Schiaparelli doesn’t care! There’s a massive demand from transvestites, sadomasochists and rap performers in US who have interest and capacities to buy.
From surrealism to sadomasochism, very chunky indeed – that is the way Schiaparelli luxury Parisian brand choose to go. And there’s nothing to do with “time difference”, or “modern”, or “fashion of today”, that is a a choice. And probably new concurrence for New York brand “The Blonds”, who are really specializing in this kind of stage costumes.
Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana also propose their garments to the rap singers, but they don’t actively advertise it on their Instagram accounts, trying to be a little more discrete. They publish stories for 24h, or publish posts for couple of days and then remove them.
Dolce & Gabbana one of these brands who actively advertises their promotion actions by rap singers. They actively announce their pride…
And to “chunk up” this chapter about vulgarity and luxury brands I’d like to ask you 2 questions: How many people do you think want to be associated with it really? And how many people would be able to buy these very expensive (what’s left of meaning “luxury”) items? Not even a million, which is less than 1% from the followers these rap singers have on instagram. Brilliant and very resourceful.
So what’s left from the meaning of luxury on fashion market? Well – just expensive prices, huffed and puffed logos and nothing else. LUXURY BECAME AN OPPOSITE TO ITSELF!
Something to think about….