Instagram – March, 16th 2022
“Luxury has become fast fashion”
“High prices don’t match the quality”
“Nothing feels exclusive anymore”
Have we had enough? Is the “designer bag bubble” coming to an end? Did social media ruin it all? Are we just all blasés?
Before anyone had a social media account, the only way we came across designer pieces was either through magazines, the people around us, billboards and window displays. Meaning, if you did not have any interest in the matter, you could easily not see it.
Luxury pieces were thought of as qualitative and expensive of course but also, exclusive and special. The fashion luxury world was then more secretive and slightly intimidating.
Fast forward to the 2010 era where on YouTube the trend consisted of “What’s in my bag?” videos and viewers started to grow an interest in what other people on the Internet from around the world were wearing. Bloggers at the time were also posting their outfit ideas to inspire their readers – remember Tavi Gevinson from “Style Rookie”. The business model was simple: normal people to normal people. Relatability was what made them stand out from the classic media channels and the unreachable influential crowd.
Now, as Erica from “Ericas Girly World” said in her video responding to fellow YouTuber Alex from the “HRH Collection” channel, it looks like there is a designer bag bubble that is close to coming to an end just like the makeup bubble that happened mainly on YouTube. Alex goes as far as to compare this designer bag obsession to the designer jeans trend students in the 2000s used to wear to belong to the “cool club”.
As mentioned above, relatability was the key to grow an audience on Internet – although it only came completely naturally at the time since money was not yet involved – and brands started to see the potential behind this trusting relationship as a powerful selling tool. There is no harm in showing your favorite purse or lipstick – all the better for the brand.
Looking back at the makeup craze on YouTube, it all started with collecting M.A.C lipsticks, Makeup Geek eyeshadows or O.P.I. nailpolishes. Little by little, beauty lovers switched from E.l.f. reviews to more high end brands to report if the makeup was worth the price – the Hourglass Ambient Lighting powder comes to mind as well as Chanel’s Soleil Tan cream bronzer – then brands started reaching to them, sending them items to try in front of the camera. Their makeup collection grew bigger and bigger – collecting eyeshadow palettes was all the rage. We saw new makeup brands emerging and new products being released every other month or week – poke ColorPop. Kylie’s Lip Kits were constantly sold out, YouTubers and brand collaborations were all the hype, and beauty trips to Bora Bora or other dream places became part of the lifestyle. All was good under the sun until… Until we all realized it was too much – plus, the pandemic happened being the last nail in the coffin for sure.
“How is this related to the topic of luxury handbags?”, you might ask. Well, we can clearly observe a pattern that is being reproduced with big names in the fashion content creation industry who are being payed or gifted luxury handbags to showcase.
I personally don’t have anything against content creators who are simply doing their job. However, I do think these luxury Houses need to rethink their strategy.
Sure, for some people, being shoved a bag down their throat can eventually grow on them and lead to a purchase. But honestly, most of the viewers get sick of these new releases being pushed to them as the “new it-bag” when in reality, two weeks later this so-called “it-bag” has been long gone forgotten.
In addition to that, having constantly new bags being pushed, not only does it decreases the exclusivity that is so dear to luxury Houses but also it decreases the bag’s value. Why would I pay such a high price for something people are getting for free? If I wait long enough, I might also be able to find it secondhand for a better deal – yet, by the time I get to that phase, the interest I once had might have simply disappeared.
Still on the topic of the decrease of exclusivity, with luxury being splashed all around social media, it has sort of become part of our normality the more we are exposed to it – which is insane just thinking about it. Luxury has become a normality – at least online. And that’s when some Houses realized, maybe they didn’t want all this visibility after all. They were now part of hauls on YouTube just like fast fashion brands. Were they on the verge on becoming basic? To counteract this situation, some Houses simply skyrocketed their prices so they would be less attainable for people. Some others, just removed themselves completely from social media by deleting their accounts.
The difficulty here is to balance a good visibility – without overflowing everybody’s feed – while keeping an exclusive image – without pushing away current and potential customers. Houses don’t have to go to such extremes to control the situation – it’s like suddenly using the front wheel brake of a bicycle when rolling down a slope at a high speed: brutal, reckless and dangerous.
Instead sending gifts or lending pieces to all their PR list, the solution for Houses would be to – just like they do with models – sign contracts of exclusivity with content creators. They could choose their content creators just like they choose their muse models and/or actresses.
Content creators are both the media and the face. Sometimes this can lead to confusion in whether to consider them as part of the classic media crowd and invite them to every PR event or as a personality and work with them on a more personal level. Some creators and Houses already work closely and in all exclusivity, which for the viewer seems more genuine and is not upsetting because this creator doesn’t do as many partnerships and only keeps close the few Houses that make sense to their image and personality as well. This is something hard to do as a fashion content creator because you may enjoy a lot of Houses but I guess restricting yourself to only a few names is wiser and may feel more natural to the audience.
That said, people are free to buy whatever they wish for with their own money – under contract or not – and that’s when they let their personal taste shine through – which to me is more interesting because then you really get to see what these content creators like to buy and it’s usually not what is being pushed by a House – or maybe it is and that’s completely fine as long as they enjoy it.
In conclusion, how to make the best of both worlds? Instead of pushing a certain bag – or even a complete look sometimes – why not let the content creator, with whom a House has an exclusivity contract, choose among the new collection pieces what would fit his or her image. The idea on both ends is to appear genuine and work in an organic manner. Then, only maybe a piece can become iconic because it is well-loved and regularly worn by this or that person. Forcing the process simply won’t do it. As a wise Regina George would say: “Stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen.”