I’ve read articles about how luxury brands mass-produce their products with lower quality, including excerpts from Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas. But none of those affected me the same way as my recent experience.

I came across a YouTube video from a cobbler who was resoling a pair of boots that I absolutely adore from a luxury brand. I won’t name the brand. I’ll just describe it as a sleek boot with a 1.5-inch stacked heel that, to me, adds magic to an outfit with skinny jeans. I love the boots so much that I have six pairs in different colors and materials.

The video revealed the inner workings of the boots as the cobbler described how the boot would be resoled. As the video progressed, the cobbler described how difficult it was to resole the boot, which included the replacement of the stacked heel. Do you want to know why a cobbler is having trouble resoling a supposedly well-made boot from a luxury brand that costs $1,145? Could it be that the leather is too delicate? Or the materials are too fine and can damage if taken apart? Or the cobbler could not replicate the quality of the materials used on the boots? I would have thought these were the answers, at least for a luxury item.

The real answer? The sole is heavily glued on, and the stacked heel is fake. It isn’t stacked at all. It is just a veneer made to look like a stacked heel, actually concealing a hollow plastic core.

Betrayal is the only word I can use to describe how I felt.

At a price over $1,000, the brand could not even make a real stacked heel? Even lower-priced brands sell truly stacked heel shoes for significantly less.

For those of you who don’t know, a stacked heel is a heel made from several sheets of cowhide stacked on top of each other that will slowly wear away layer after layer until it is resoled where new layers are applied to replace the old ones.

When it is simply a veneer made to look like a stacked heel to conceal a plastic core, and there are no leather layers, the cobbler cannot even restack the heel. The heel has to be completely reformed by the cobbler. The customer who submitted the boots for cobbling will finally have a real stacked heel.

It gets worse. The website clearly says that the product has a stacked heel. So not only is the stacked heel not actually stacked, the website is falsely advertising that the heel is stacked.

Heavy on the glue = Heavy on the cost-cutting measures

The excessive amount of glue is an indication of heavy cost-cutting. The glue sets the components together quickly without anchoring the pieces firmly while stitching. The less time it takes to make the boots, the more boots can be made, and the lower the cost of each boot for the luxury brand. More money in their pockets, right? Combined with the fake hollow plastic stacked heels, with similar cost-cutting measures in other product categories, it means more money in a brand’s pocket.

What happened to luxury?

Is it really that costly to make a stacked heel? The cost-cutting measures will save them pennies, if not a few dollars per boot. The least I should expect from a luxury brand is to have a stacked heel when the website makes such a claim. The level of deception is awful, especially when they went to lengths to still convince customers that the heel is stacked, with the veneer showing what looks like grooves of different layers of leather.

Now some of you may suspect that the cobbler was repairing fake boots—I thought that too at first, but at second glance, the details completely match the boots I have, down to the fake stacking. All of this led to the question at hand: Times change, yes, but shouldn’t brands keep the luxe in luxury? I know I can’t be the only one who has experienced quality issues first-hand. Members of our PurseBlog and PurseForum communities have reported quality issues from various brands too.

Take edge-dying or glazing, for instance. How many people have experienced uneven edge-dying or cracking? The unevenness is because the job is rushed. The cracking is because a thick paste is used to seal the leather edges to hide minimal sanding of the edges (the thickness hides the uneven edges), and then the paste only needs to be applied once. Real, quality edge-dying should look like the finish on top of the flap of the Hermès Birkin.

It is done where several leather pieces are sewn together, and the edges are sanded down to be even. Then a thin edge-dye is applied once, allowed to dry, and then reapplied (with drying intervals) over and over again to achieve a nice, even finish that won’t easily crack. While it’s hard to compare the process that Hermès uses to other brands, a luxury product should still withstand normal wear and tear.

When paying thousands of dollars for a bag, customers should expect bags that aren’t lopsided, straight stitching, gold-plated hardware, durable clasps, and luxurious full-grain leathers where scratches can be buffed out.

Maybe you can sense the irritation and anger from the betrayal that I felt. I actually thought the heels were stacked on these boots that I love. At the very least, I didn’t think a luxury brand would deceive consumers about its construction methods.

Where do we go from here?

The video changed how I feel about many of the brands I love. I don’t want to pay top dollar to these brands who play me for a fool, making me think that the artisanal “making of” videos actually reflect what goes on in the production facilities of the products. Interestingly, one of the brands with rumored quality issues makes videos animating the pieces of the bag coming together on their own (without showing the artisan). Maybe not showing an artisan helps them circumvent the rules around false advertising because there is no actual artisan?

Not all brands do this, although I often wonder if most of them do, especially with shareholders that keep pressuring the brands to increase profitability and profit margins. I suggest looking into brands with outstanding quality if you feel as betrayed as I do. Hopefully, where we spend our money can pressure the majority of luxury brands to focus on quality. At the moment, it is a race to cut quality, not increase it. And customers are still buying, so why should they stop?

What do you think? Have luxury brands taken the luxe out of luxury?

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Kim
Kim
5 months ago

“Is it really that costly to make a stacked heel?” The point of YSL making the interior a polycarb core is not for cost cutting, it’s to make the shoe lighter. It’s always been like this. The allure of the shoes is an everyday appeal with comfort. To use a fully leather stacked heel would inhibit a balance by making the back heavier. Additionally, using a polycarb heel isn’t a negative indication of quality or performance… have you heard of complaints or major issues that the shoe’s function is decreased because YSL didn’t opt for a full stacked leather heel?

“When paying thousands of dollars for a bag, customers should expect bags that aren’t lopsided, straight stitching, gold-plated hardware, durable clasps, and luxurious full-grain leathers where scratches can be buffed out. ”

Ngl some of the posts I’ve seen on the forum err on OCD. These products are hand assembled and passed through machines BY HANDS, let some margin of error be. and “luxurious full-grain leathers where scratches can be buffed out?” leather is leather is leather. Scratched leathers not being able to be buffed out isn’t a decrease in quality, and these luxury brands aren’t alchemists that go against physics. With this logic, you shouldn’t bleed or be able to massage away a mark if you accidentally scratch yourself. With this logic, silk twill is the lowest quality fabric because of how fragile it is! Gold-plated hardware? get over yourself.

If you’re that picky, I suggest going to John Lobb Bootmaker in London and requesting a custom pair that follows your every whim, along with your gold-plated hardware and scratch resistant leather.

But regardless, this point is the most important: Please disillusion yourself thinking you’re getting the best of the best when buying from luxury. What you’re paying is name first, design second, and anything else comes after or never comes at all.

Last edited 5 months ago by Kim
Lori
Lori
5 months ago
Reply to  Kim

While you do make some really good points, I suggest you watch the video. The cobblers point out shortcuts all over those boots. I think this article starts with a misleading stacked heel, to which you bring up good points, but really goes into corners being cut throughout.

Jamie
Jamie
5 months ago
Reply to  Lori

100% agreed. I found the video super fascinating. They used a lot of glue instead od stitching things. In places where they could of used full length leather, they used a half sheet.

Personally I expect a higher end shoe to be more easily repairable.

I recently grabbed some YSL Oxfords from the outlet, I decided to look at them a little closer. The construction seemed to be much higher quality, but perhaps some different choices are made for boots than the flat shoes I have.

Jen
Jen
5 months ago
Reply to  Kim

Aggressive much? Who hurt you?

Fact is there is a significant decline in quality from luxury brands over recent years. Just take a look at purseforum of people asking if loose stitching/lopsided flaps on bags are normal. We shouldn’t be too nit picky but we do need to expect a certain level of quality for the money.

CDa
CDa
5 months ago
Reply to  Jen

Then why continue to enable these luxury brands to cut costs by continuing to buy from them. You are contributing to the very reason they continue to cut costs and decrease quality. Very clearly you’re complaining about Chanel, yet every month those mostly purchases threads fill up to the brim with posts about their recent purchases.

Complaining on a purseblog comment section or blog post isn’t going to immediately make these luxury brands reevaluate their cost-cutting measures and quality decrease, but boycotting them will.

Make it make sense.

Katy
Katy
5 months ago
Reply to  CDa

Quality, or lack of, and huge price increases are the reasons that I stopped purchasing Chanel in the past 2-3 years. However, as you stated, people continue to buy so there’s no motivation for Chanel to improve their products.

Due to this, I started looking into vintage Chanel and found a bag, 24 years old, that was in amazing condition! My friends and family couldn’t believe it when I told them! I see bags on FP, for instance, that are less than a year old and already show wear on the corners. No thx! 🙄

Kim
Kim
5 months ago
Reply to  Jen

My comment was targeting the type of people complaining about creasing on the flaps than actual grievances of quality.

But to frame the discussion around a brand using a polycarbonate interior for a heel as a decrease in quality — yet they’ve always done this, and it doesn’t hinder durability and functional value AT ALL — is inaccurate.

and I said to disillusion yourself thinking you’re getting the best of the best when buying from luxury. If you keep buying despite legitimate cost cutting measures, then you continue to enable their cost cutting measures.

Marie
Marie
5 months ago
Reply to  Kim

Thank you for this!! I don’t know why this forum has such a unattainable standard of quality.

im pretty satisfied with my saint laurent shoes, albeit not boots, but they’ve lasted me for sometime now with no problems at all.

Zoe
Zoe
5 months ago
Reply to  Kim

i agree 100% with your last statement. i think the issue of quality that does not match the price tag is more profound on clothes. hundreds of $ for t-shirt of questionable quality. if there was no logo on it would remained on the shelves and bought during sales…

Morgan Blake
Morgan Blake
5 months ago

The designer is named..it’s in the video that’s linked. Why does it matter? LV glazing has been terrible for years. On the forum there are tons of photos of LV bags with wonky sewn zippers. I just returned a LV cosmetic bag because the sides were sewn wrong and it looked like someone punched it in on both ends. All designers are cost cutting. They don’t care. Why should they? If 3 people or 3000 people swear off YSL, they’re hardly going bankrupt.

Katy
Katy
5 months ago

It is absurd that the designer wasn’t named in this piece.

J B
J B
5 months ago
Reply to  Katy

I agree just for ease of reading … I don’t want to click thru and endure at least 2 you tube commercials before I have to watch a video that is likely interrupted in like 3 minutes with another set of commercials just to find out the boots referenced in the article.

Marin
Marin
5 months ago
Reply to  Katy

It’s absurd you couldn’t click the hotlinked video in the article which immediately names the designer

Katy
Katy
5 months ago
Reply to  Marin

I didn’t see it. However, why is it even necessary to click a link? Why not just mention the designer in the post? 🤷‍♀️

Lori
Lori
5 months ago
Reply to  Marin

To the defense of those who wanted the name, I didn’t realize he had included a hot link, so I googled. Thought I was being. so sleuthy too!

J B
J B
5 months ago
Reply to  Marin

No not absurd …

Nechama
Nechama
5 months ago

This is just how it is. Big brands cut costs. If you want artisan goods, buy from a small artisan company. It won’t be a big name.

Lori
Lori
5 months ago

I found the video, YSL mens boots. Very interesting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-xYlnUnQzc

Terri
Terri
5 months ago

This is why I do not buy bags from LV, Chanel, Gucci, etc anymore.
I get an artisan to craft a made-to-order one-of-a-kind bag that suits my liking/needs.

Magdeline
Magdeline
5 months ago

How can anyone possibly comment when the designer is not revealed in the item in question? The brands I purchase do not do this, so who is the designer referenced here?

Zoe
Zoe
5 months ago
Reply to  Magdeline

watch the video 🙂

Magdeline
Magdeline
5 months ago
Reply to  Zoe

I completely missed it; thanks for letting me know. 😊

psny15
psny15
5 months ago

Next time name the designer before you ramble about your experience

Amazona
Amazona
4 months ago

I just commented on a Youtube video about LV’s deteriorating quality, and I’ll say it again; high end luxury is turning into fast fashion. For exceedingly climbing prices you don’t get the quality, you only get the name with several heritage brands.

londoncalling
londoncalling
5 months ago

Does anyone make a real stacked heel?
Veneer over a plastic core is strong, light, and stable. Seems like an improvement to me.

CDa
CDa
5 months ago
Reply to  londoncalling

usually heritage and traditional menswear shoe brands do this, but their stuff is notoriously heavier.

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