Why is luxury fashion so expensive?

When it comes to updating your wardrobe, quality over quantity has always been the luxury rule of thumb. Not only do luxury items tend to look better, but they last better, too – and choosing to invest smarter into clothes you could have for years to come means you avoid contributing to the damaging effects that ‘fast’ fashion’ is known to have on our planet. Even so though, many designers today sell their latest new season pieces at astronomical cost to the consumer – and while many of us will happily pay the price if it means having that new Prada coat or Gucci handbag, you’d be forgiven for wondering where the numbers come from.

So, why exactly is fashion becoming increasingly expensive? We take a closer look.

Synonymous with quality

Luxury fashion is based around the sourcing of high-quality fabrics, and no corners are cut in the printing and dying process as they tend to be in fast fashion.

Where clothes are produced cheaply and quickly, cheaper, more toxic chemicals are often used to achieve the desired effect in record time, but the cost to our environment is high. These chemicals make their way into our rivers and streams, before inevitably ending up in our ocean – where they have a detrimental effect on marine life and on the health of ocean habitats like corals and seagrasses.

Luxury brands, on the other hand, have traditionally ensured that their high standards are adhered to at every step of the production process. They have always worked with the very best printers and dyers to achieve a show-stopping final effect across their garments. That even extends to their packaging, too – which any designer fashion consumer will know is almost as important as the item itself. Those beautiful jewellery boxes you get from Cartier? They’re created with bespoke printing by Downey – because in this industry, branding is everything.

These days, however, the tide is starting to change. With a finite number of big-name brands monopolising the luxury market, they have a stranglehold on the market – and, if people want to keep wearing their logos, they may find themselves having to pay an inflated price.

With the rise of influencer marketing has come an increased demand for designer goods – so much so that it is edging towards mainstream – yet the prices continue to go up and up. Brands are under increasing pressure to turn collections around more quickly and to do that, they need to slash quality or increase prices, and by and large, the majority have opted to do both.

But is that a sustainable way to work for some of the world’s biggest names in fashion?

Branding rules

When you buy a Rolex, its reputation precedes it. Image credit: shawnwilliams4433/Bigstock.com

For many consumers, it’s not even the quality or the print of the material that entices them towards a garment or accessory – it’s quite simply that feeling of exclusivity it gives them when they strut out of their favourite designer store, brand bag in hand. A beautiful new dress can make you feel like a million dollars – and all the more so if it has the right label on it.

Similarly, when you buy a Rolex, its reputation precedes it – and just being able to sport a brand name on your arm that is renowned for its esteemed quality is enough to make you want to make the purchase – irrespective of the actual watch itself.

But how long will people keep paying for just a feeling – and will the prices get even higher?

As production steps up and more millennials than ever are splurging their paltry wages on the latest designer bag, that elitist feeling could soon start to fade – and buying new Yves Saint Laurent jacket may no longer produce the buzz it once did.

A tough choice for designers

The luxury fashion market is an ever-expanding and growing niche

For designers, it’s decision time – keep feeding the mass demand, or return to creating exclusive, high-quality pieces in smaller numbers to cater to an affluent market?

If the former wins out, we could stand to see the fashion landscape change forever – and sporting your beloved Gucci bag may no longer give you the buzz it once did.

The answer? Start to think outside the box when it comes to updating your wardrobe. If you want to own something truly special and unique, invest in a piece from an up-and-coming independent designer instead. Not only will you be assured of quality, but you’ll be guaranteed to find something that nobody else has. It’s a return to how designer fashion used to be – and holds all of that original appeal.

Image credit at the very top of the article: Sorbis/Bigstock.com