Louis Vuitton started in 1854 as a manufacturer of trunks in Paris and is currently owned by LVMH, an ultra-luxury holding company, which includes companies and brands such as Dom Prignon, Veuve Clicquot, TAG Heuer, Marc Jacobs, Fendi , and Kenzo, among countless others. Pretty impressive, huh?

Louis Vuitton bags are very well made. Extremely well made. I’m not dismissing the value of craftsmen, but luxury brands are about association more than craft. If you can instill thoughts of hipness or royalty or whatever happens to be a desirable association for your product, into your product, then everything else, including craft, can take a back seat. Don’t believe me? How about the craftsmen (factory workers) that make $400 Dolce & Gabanna jeans? Or the bartender that hands me a $12 Heineken with attitude in an Ian Schrager hotel? Or the line cooks who make the food at a Wolfgang Puck Express? Yep, brands are about association.

The point, and I find it remarkable, is that this is a highly sought after product which sells for a lot of money, but is essentially ugly. That’s amazing to me especially because this is a fashion product. So, what are you buying for seven hundred f***ing dollars? It certainly isn’t the leather. It is the lifestyle, the envy, the feeling of success and accomplishment. Being established. The name, the identity, the image of sitting in the middle of Ducasse sipping tea. Lounging by the pool with Mommy and Philippe. Walking Muffy on Park Avenue. It is a Harry Winston necklace, Mikimoto pearls and having the driver pull the car around. It is a presidential fundraising luncheon. It is everything, all rolled into a seven hundred dollar bag.

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David Weinberger is a graphic designer and brand consultant based in New York City. At FutureBrand, New York, David creates visual and strategic branding programs for clients such as General Motors, Rubbermaid and United Way. He is also an author for Speak Up,” graphic design’s most widely-read and influential online forum. Parts of this article previously appeared on “Speak Up.” David Weinberger can be contacted at info@davidweinberger.com.