This post originally appeared on Terumah, a site for smart young women looking for fun insights on style, beauty, travel, art and pop culture. I loved Annie’s outfit so much, I asked if I could feature it here!
There was a time when luxury was only available to aristocrats and royalty. Couture meant getting bespoke, one-of-a-kind pieces of the highest quality and a pampered buying experience. We might view Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton as the ultimate status brands, whose products—and logos—connote high-class living, but during their lifetimes, these designers simply worked in their own boutiques, making some of the best clothes on earth for their private clients.
Now fashion houses are bought out by global corporations, whose main goal is sales growth. According to the book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, a corporation like LVMH can buy a family-owned business for their name and heritage, bring in a hot young designer, stage crazy runway shows for press, dress celebrities in their designs, and make profit from licensing out the brand name for accessible products like perfumes and sunglasses. Luxury for the masses—and you know what? The formula works.
Now that the luxury market is about logos, and quantity over quality, those who seek true luxury must look beyond the labels. Since corporations are all about growth, they will cut corners to get their sales goals met. How can a bag be considered a luxury item when it’s made in a sweatshop in Asia, then shipped to Italy to get a handle stitched on to warrant the “Made in Italy” label?
Today, luxury to me still means superior design and high-quality clothes made by skilled artisans, but from companies whose workers make at least a living wage, and work in safe and clean factories. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.
I still respect the creatives of the big fashion brands—many are innovative, and with their big budgets, some do keep certain art forms alive and talented artisans employed, but I’m picky about who I buy from, and I research where everything is made before I take the plunge. It takes more effort, but it’s much more rewarding to know that I’m contributing to the growth of good companies, and not the ones who are exploiting people and the environment.
Luxury is owning pieces I love and respect, clothes I’d want to wear season after season. I always ask myself whether the quality and design of a piece would stand on its own if the labels were removed.
Every piece I’m wearing in this outfit is well made, classic, and versatile.