Appreciating Luxury Fashion Brands

unaffordable luxury brands

They’re not affordable, but fascinating

I’m not going to put on any show here, I’m a poor college student. I pass up the “organic” frozen burritos at Costco because they cost $2.00 per serving. With this as your gauge of my current socioeconomic status, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I can’t afford Prada, Chanel, or even Michael Kors.

In 2015, the personal luxury goods market skyrocketed to over $250 billion, according to a Bain & Co study. This data shows that now, more than ever — people are choosing luxury brands. But why?

One view of the luxury fashion industry is that brands rip off their customers by selling items that were produced at only a sliver of their price tags.  And yes – brands definitely markup their products. But the lack of affordability is the precise reason why luxury brands are deserving of appreciation.

Psychological Phenomenons

Instead of looking at the brands simply through the lens of the price of their goods, we can appreciate them by admiring their development of a psychological phenomenon that goes along with their names and logos.

In a book on fashion branding by Uche Okonkwo, she writes:

“When people purchase a luxury fashion item, they don’t just buy the product but a complete parcel that comprises the product and a set of intangible benefits that appeal to the emotional, social, and psychological levels of their being.”

Sunglasses that cost the same amount as my groceries for the entire month should be on my list of stupid and irresponsible purchases. After all, one can find sunglasses at Target or even Nordstrom for under $15.00.

However, they’re not just sunglasses. Luxury sunglasses are branded to seem like more than sunglasses – they’re sunglasses that fulfill some emotional, social, or psychological need.

A Vuitton Example

When a consumer purchases a handbag from Louis Vuitton, she is not purchasing the handbag specifically because she needs something that will carry her possessions.

She’s purchasing the what the handbag means. She’s purchasing it as a social status identifier; a picture of wealth. She carries it as a sign to herself and her peers that she has the kind of frivolous lifestyle that accommodates spending way more than necessary on something that carries her belongings.


How incredible is it that a brand was able to give her that sense of psychological satisfaction?

I think it’s freakin’ awesome. Through completely creative outlets: photography, advertising, copy writing, even architecture — Louis Vuitton was able to position itself as selling more than just handbags. Except their primary product is still just handbags!

Branding is the reason why companies can charge crazy prices for their goods and it works. That fact is endlessly fascinating.

xoxo, danika


  • I never understood the luxury fashion market for day to day stuff. Like I get the psychological benefits, but it actually has the reverse effect on me and i feel guilty.

    Rachel |

  • I’m always kind of fascinated by things like luxury fashion that are more social currency than useful item. The other day, I saw a guy driving a Maserati 4-door sedan, and all I could think was “Why on earth would you do that?” But you’re right! Being able to buy the Maserati instead of, say, a Ford, probably meant a lot to that guy.

  • Kristin Thompson

    This was such an interesting read! I’ve never thought about luxury fashion in this way before!

    The Blush Blonde

  • Audrey Stowe

    Luxury brands are always so nice and of course luxurious but I think it’s a good thing to have a mix of luxury and normal!

  • Merisa Ferrell

    Girl, this is so fascinating! My mom has been a Louis Vuitton fan all her life but we’ve never been in a position for her to buy one outright. She has a collection of vintage hand-me-downs, estate sale finds, and pre-owned handbags though. It’s definitely not the bag she loves, it’s what the brand means to her. xx Merisa | Monogrammed Magnolias

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