Pop culture, fashion and luxury: they have gone hand in hand for ages, but their bond seems stronger than ever now. Why is Delvaux selling Game of Thrones handbags and how is Kim Kardashian helping the worldwide demand for luxury brands?
Exclusivity trumps quality
How does a fashion company innovate when everything has already been done and fast fashion players instantly copy what you do, but at a fraction of the price? It is a conundrum for fashion labels nowadays. What distinguishes their “haute couture” from the every-day fashion? Exclusivity seems like the obvious answer and it is also the most lucrative answer.
Critical shoppers realize that quality no longer justifies high prices: the industrialization has made quality a bare minimum. Quality is no longer a sales argument by itself, as former Colruyt director Jean-Pierre Roelands already noticed in the food industry. Mass-produced fashion is also unsurpassable when it comes to speed: luxury brands therefore turn to scarcity to keep the value of their products up.
Streetwear brand Supreme is a pioneer in that regard: “Mass-produced fashion usually revolves around summer and winter; you showcase your products on a catwalk, they arrive in stores and then you discount them. People know that. Supreme has an online catalog with everything that will be on sale. You just do not know when it will be on sale and how many we will make. That turns up the value”, store / gallery owner Jeff Hoogendijk explained in De Morgen.
Supreme’s accessories have also ended up at Hoogendijk’s concept store, Almost Not Done, where he sells a Supreme X Coleman-CT200U-mini bike, a small bike with stickers from the label. Aside from this collector’s item, worth up to 10,000 euro, he also has designer brands like Raf Simons and Comme des Garçons, modern pieces of art and exceptional used clothing.
500,000 dollars for an Instagram post
Major fashion labels are also very willing to publish “limited editions”, preferably in collaboration with other major names or “influencers”. To make sure items are “hot” and wanted, the right type of associations is crucial. With the gap between poor and rich on the rise and uniformity as something people loathe, traditional marketing and mass advertising’s best days are behind us. Celebrities and “influencers” on Instagram have gained in influence.
Reality tv star Kim Kardashian earns the most, with up to 500,000 dollars for a single sponsored post, according to Forbes. Her well-known family members also earn several hundred thousand dollars for a sponsored post on their social media, Michael Heller admitted. He is CEO for digital marketing firm Talent Resources, which often signs deals for the Kardashians. He feels those are not absurd sums, as a Kardashian-backed product immediately sells out.
“Research shows that teenagers and young adults’ purchases are heavily influenced by these celebrities”, market research firm eMarketer’s Debra Aho Williamson said. These youngsters dream of brands like Balmain and Roberto Cavalli and not of Vogue and Elle, solely because of Kim’s selfies.
Game of Thrones bags for the saturated closet
Why does it need to be exclusive? The consumer goods market is getting saturated and the same goes for the Western middle-class consumers’ homes and closets. There are two ways for purchase behavior: either people become less materialistic (minimalists are the new hipsters, according to fashion label Elle) or they use products to highlight their lifestyle and identity. Purchases have to be worthy of an Instagram post, have to be exclusive or special, never just “plain”.
Belgian handbag brand Delvaux has tapped into that sensation for its new Christmas collection: four handbags (in a limited run, obviously), seemingly inspired by the popular tv show, Game of Thrones. The Christmas Couture Exclusive Collection is backed by four animations, one for each bag, created by artist and Instagram powerhouse Nic Courdy. Everything is very social media-friendly, designed to be “shared” and to go “viral”. Will a scaled Daenerys handbag appear under the most fashionable Christmas trees soon?