Most of us purchase designer handbags more because of the status carrying one conveys and less because of the quality. You can get a great, quality handbag at your local JC Penney’s for less than $50, but carrying that handbag doesn’t convey the same status as, say, carrying the same Yves Saint Laurent handbag carried by Beyonce. If you can pick up a knock-off of that same bag on eBay for a fraction of the cost, then the status is gone and as well as shoppers’ desire to spend a ridiculous amount of money on it.
Here’s the truth: rich people aren’t the only ones who buy luxury products. According to a recent article in the Economist, the vast majority of purchasers of luxury products, some 60%, are aspirational shoppers, shoppers like you and me, who aspire to be rich, while trying to figure out how to survive on ramen noodles. We want the status, the lifestyle that carrying a designer handbags conveys, but don’t have the cash in the bank to truly afford the bag.
One of the ways designers get you to want their products, is by creating limited edition bags/products to create an air of envy/exclusivity not only for the bag—but also for the label itself. They create a very limited number of bags and give bags to key celebrities (sometimes they even pay for the celebrities to carry the bags), knowing that photos of the celebs carrying the bags will appear in major magazines and popular blogs, creating desire.
Now your chance of scoring one of the exclusive bags is, umm, like the chance of Elvis doing a set at your next birthday party. That’s the point. Designers bank on the fact that you can’t score (or buy) the $6,000 moon dust-encrusted bag made from the skin of baby seals and the hope of children, but in order to be linked to the status the brand conveys, you would be happy with a cheaper or less expensive version. And these versions are almost always more profitable for the designer.
So how can you avoid the designer handbag trap?
- Don’t Buy the IT Handbag. Don’t try to buy the “IT” handbag, just wait until the season is over and purchase the handbag at the outlet
- Choose Quality over Status. Just because it’s got a label, that doesn’t mean it’s worth the dough. Check the quality of leather, examine the stitching, and make sure the bag is lined.
- Find Designer “inspired” versions. This is not the same as a “knock-off”. Designer inspired versions have a similar style as the designer versions, but do not claim to be the real thing. One of my favorite spots to score designer inspired Handbags? Baghaus.com
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