The best designers are going even further upmarket and raising their prices in an attempt to make up for losses during the pandemic, he emerged. The strategy takes advantage of a growing demand for luxury from the super-rich, many of whom have grown even richer during the pandemic.
The fashion industry came out of their forties in chic heels last week after an almost 18-month absence from live shows. How much the industry has changed was revealed at Fashion Week in Paris and, in a premiere by an African-American designer, in New York City. In both cases, new methods of operation were apparent in a world changed economically and by the demands of racial justice.
For some, like Chanel, this has meant increasing the price of handbags, first in May of last year, citing the cost of raw materials, and again this month, customers being asked to pay around 15% more. This comes after the decline in the company’s income 18% in 2020.
A recent industry report of Bernstein’s “untapped price increase reservoir” identified Rolex, Dior, Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton as brands that have increased their prices. The analysis found that the price of luxury bags had risen to twice the level of the broader Consumer Price Index over four decades. The top brands had translated the growth into rapid price increases in what Bernstein called an “unrealized price hike.”
Bernstein analyst Luca Solca said: “Most luxury brands have increased their prices during the pandemic in order to mitigate the impact of declining sales. Chanel was particularly aggressive in this approach. Highly desirable brands have the option of raising the prices if they wish. This, Solca added, “has the advantage of reducing the risk of overwhelming the market and jeopardizing perceived exclusivity. “
While this may be the uncompromising business logic of luxury, one of the realities of the creative end is to act against decades of mass market luxury, with brands wanting to become more exclusive, rarefied and expensive enough to bear the costs. additional craftsmanship and durability.
Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution, a fashion activism movement, said: “The luxury industry has to go back to some sort of semblance of luxury because it has hardly been immune to the virus. of poor quality and large quantity. There is so much wrong with luxury these days, but the main problem is the lack of transparency.
She added: “To imagine a truly luxurious luxury industry, they have to reinvent their parameters, get back to the essence of what luxury is – craftsmanship, respect for labor and human skills, and beautiful materials. . None of this can harm people and nature, if we are to regard it as a luxury item. In other words, goodbye to the discounted handbag, hello to the full price or better.
Last week Demna Gvasalia, the radical Georgian designer behind Balenciaga, who presented his first couture show in 50 years, said her fashion would lean towards a dressier style, but “not at all carpet-style. red”. This, according to the Guardian, is in part a response to the industry’s urgent need to “regain control of the fashion narrative” which has lost ground to trends led by Nike and Netflix, adding that “the reopening of haute couture represents Balenciaga taking the upper hand on these suitors “.
At the same time, a fashion show in New York City also offered an indication of how things are going. Elaine Brown, former president from the Black Panther Party, delivered an uplifting speech to an audience that included Tracee Ellis Ross, actress and activist daughter of Diana Ross, and Bethann Hardison, the highly influential fashion activist, before a fashion show by Kerby Jean-Raymond, head of the Pyer Moss design label, and the first African-American to be invited to the official Haute Couture Chamber of Commerce, the governing body of the sewing system.
The show, which was rescheduled to Saturday after the Hurricane Elsa front flooded the walkway and audiences, represents symbolic redress for an industry that has been criticized for its lack of diversity.
Lauren Preston, a consultant, said there have been improvements but “it won’t be genuine and genuine until you see the change at the top. It seems temporary from now on, but we’ll see. Designer Tatiana Franklin said, “Black designers like Kerby and Heron Preston are on board. But it can also be cultural appropriation as they still rob black designers and then put them on a pedestal. It’s interesting to see that and where the designs come from.
Chi Ossé, a newly elected progressive member of New York City Council in attendance at the show, said fashion has the power to change perspectives. “I think all fashion is black because it comes from streetwear and it starts in African American communities. For black fashion to be recognized it has to be bold and authentic, but we also need the resources that white designers have.