A new book out by author Dana Thomas, called Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre, explores how the manufacture of luxury goods, and in particular luxury clothing, has been outsourced almost in its entirety to a handful of developing countries such as China and Turkey.
Dana Thomas knew it was time to investigate ‘luxury’ when her clothes started falling off. ‘In 2002, I bought a pair of cotton-poplin cropped trousers at Prada for $500. I put them on, and the gentle passing of my foot ripped the hem out. I put my hand in the pocket and it tore away from its seam. I squatted down to pick up my two-year-old and the derriÃ¨re split open. I hadn’t had those trousers on 10 minutes and they were literally falling apart at the seams. I mentioned this to a former Prada design assistant. “It’s the thread,” he told me. “It’s cheaper and breaks easily.” Of course, not all Prada goods are shoddy . ..’
Thomas explains that despite the protestations of certain luxury house owners, the competitive landscape for luxury goods companies is one which makes this phenomenon hard to resist.
For the last sixty years, the actual production of luxury goods themselves has become much like any other type of product. The big difference is the way in which these luxury goods have been marketed to make you feel a particular way.
How? By creating a desire so powerful that, as Tom Ford, the designer and marketing genius behind Gucci, puts it, “It’s like you’ve gotta have it or you’ll die.”
As Thomas notes in her book, the lion’s share of a product is made in China but then a small piece (a piece of stitching or pocket, for instance) is added in the West so that the ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ label can be avoided and the luxury illusion can be maintained…
The book isn’t especially well written or well edited but Dana has a wicked sense of humor and pulls no punches in describing the decadent denizens of the “Deluxe” world.
Even if you know nothing about fashion, this book will fascinate, educate and entertain. The section on Louis Vuitton is eye-opening. The chapter on the making of a Hermes bag is priceless. Also, in the last few pages of the book, Thomas describes what the truly rich now buy, which is basically what you can see everyday on Luxuo :)
DELUXE: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre by Dana Thomas
Allen Lane Â£20/$40 pp376