Opinion

Prices of Designer Goods Have Become Astronomical, Will It Ever End?

Has luxury fashion's air of exclusivity turned into an air of exclusion?

In late 2019, I wrote an opinion piece on the price of designer goods and my relationship with the luxury industry. It seemed like handbag prices were becoming ludicrous, unreachable to even those who had once been within reach of the luxury industry.

A Chanel Classic Flap was $5,600 then. Today, nearly five years later, the cost of that very same bag is now $10,800. Back in 2005? It was a mere $1,650. That amount of money will now buy you a basic designer tote or a mini bag.

And what will $1,650 get you at Chanel? A small pouch.

Chanel Prices
Chanel’s twice-yearly price increases continuously come under fire

These days, it feels like even entry-level price points aren’t accessible to most consumers. While this is exactly what luxury brands aim for, that air of exclusivity, is pricing out aspirational shoppers a sustainable business practice?

Is it working?

Prices Rise Across the Board

Brands like Chanel and Hermès have continued to blame inflation and the ever-increasing rise in the cost of both materials and labor for their exorbitant price hikes. Meanwhile, it is not just inflation driving price hikes.

Brands like Bottega Veneta and Loewe push a commitment to craft, citing increased quality and attention to detail, but many still feel that the prices are less than warranted. While we’ve come to expect sky-high handbag prices, the rising cost of ready-to-wear, too, can easily cause a sticker-shock-induced heart attack.

Not to mention, big businesses prioritize profits without offering consumers anything more than before. Last month, popular fashion whistleblower Diet Prada took a swing at the ridiculousness of the industry as of late, calling out the insane costs of runway pieces from luxury Houses like Chloé, Gucci, and Hermès.

Luxury Prices

Still, even as 40% of luxury sales are made by the top 5% of luxury clients, brands are risking a lot as their target audience continues to shrink. With the post-pandemic luxury boom slowing down and US luxury sales on the decline, out-pricing aspirational shoppers is a risk.

After all, there’s still a clientele making up the remaining 60% of sales, many of whom are finding themselves out-priced. Whereas once, those aspirational shoppers found saving for splurges a couple of times a year, or even once a quarter, manageable, now it feels impossible.

As prices continue to increase, does that air of exclusivity turn into an air of exclusion? For many, yes. What do you think?

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Anna
Anna
1 month ago

It’s interesting to see an article about the astronomical prices of designer goods but then at the same time PurseBlog frequently promotes new bags that fit into this category (lately without even mentioning the price, as I called out on this article about the Prada Buckle Bag https://www.purseblog.com/prada/presenting-the-prada-buckle-bag/#comments)

I completely understand that a lot of revenue for this site is driven by promotional pieces, but it would still be nice to see some critical pushback about the prices of the bags being promoted and how the quality, craftsmanship, and customer service (especially after purchase) hold up in comparison. We can’t expect anything to change when designers indefinitely jack up prices while allowing everything else to decline, yet still get celebratory, uncritical promotional content published.

Jaime
Jaime
1 month ago

I love my bags but had to do reality check on my luxury needs. I have decided to embrace what I have. I just can’t justify the prices. In the past I did try to justify it. But I want to justify trips, updates to my home, experiences. I tap out.

Tiffany
Tiffany
1 month ago

As long as enough people are willing to pay, prices will continue to increase. The only way to stop it is for market demand to dry up.

Lori
Lori
1 month ago
Reply to  Tiffany

I totally agree with you. I think it’s the only way to get through to them.

Passerine
Passerine
1 month ago

There are designer products that I could afford but won’t because there is such a disconnect between price and quality. For example, since I’m a hybrid worker, I was looking for an attractive backpack for my laptop etc. My husband has a terrific LV backpack (Michael model, Daimier Infini leather) that he bought for 2100 euros in Paris in November 2022. It’s sold out now, and the replacement model, which isn’t as attractive and the quality seems a bit less, is available for 3100. One thousand more than he paid less than 24 months ago and for a step down in quality!

I went down the street to Ferragamo and found a beautifully made leather backpack perfect for my needs and priced under 2k. I looked at their bags as well; some gorgeous models for less LV, Dior, etc. Some great bags at Tod’s as well. I’m still shopping in the premium brand space but at a lower level.

As for the higher labor costs excuse, I doubt that the workers at these premium brands got raises commensurate with the product price hikes.

Pat Holub
Pat Holub
1 month ago
Reply to  Passerine

Ferragamo makes beautiful high quality bags and they are still reasonable. I bought my first bag 40 years ago and it still looks like new.

Ned
Ned
1 month ago

I feel like this was fun, and now it’s no longer fun.

Suki
Suki
1 month ago

I have lost interest in luxury items as i often see in Social Media the type of people that go to those stores in most Us cities, and they are the least elegant, glamorous people you can imagine. So it is now almost tacky for me to wear those bags.

Slim
Slim
1 month ago
Reply to  Suki

I so agree with you!

Layo
Layo
1 month ago
Reply to  Suki

What an awful assessment of your fellow human beings–I wonder what they would say about you? It’s okay to want exclusivity when you purchase, it’s not okay to tear down people whose lives and money are just as valuable as yours.

Momin4inch
Momin4inch
1 month ago

Refused to buy Chanel many years ago. Their prices do not reflect quality and craftmanship any more. And they keep rising their prices.
Customer service is non existent.

Lorelei
Lorelei
1 month ago

FAURE LE PAGE is another brand we rarely hear about. It is a fraction of the cost of a Goyard, but as interesting and similar in style. My fear is at some point when people discover them, will they begin to quadruple their prices? Or will they be content to be on the global map and not just in France.

Tony
Tony
1 month ago
Reply to  Lorelei

FLP’s prices have also increased astronomically. If my memory serves me right, the price of their medium tote was under $1000 USD about 2-3 years ago. It’s now at $1500. They also seem use some of the cheapest leather I’ve seen on bags at those prices.

Amber
Amber
1 month ago

Thinking LV got the message. They have new product(s) which reflect pre-2000 logic. One watch brand (Rolex?) didn’t have a PI which is the equivalent of a price decrease.

Thehoneybug
Thehoneybug
1 month ago

As more and more teenagers and young people wear designer items, Big brands want to remain exclusive and not available for everyone.