How Do You Rationalize A Luxury Purchase?

Today's Financial Times reports that French luxury goods group LVMH had strong third-quarter sales, thanks in part to the Louis Vuitton "Neverfull" handbag, pictured. Additionally, Burberry also had revenue growth thanks to its line of handbags. In a video posted on the NY Times' website on Sunday, controversial Times columnist Deborah Solomon hits the streets of Manhattan and tries to figure out why purses these days cost so much. Well, not why they cost so much, but why people are willing to spend so much.

Solomon begins at Chanel, highlighting the venerable French brand's classic handbag ($3,150). A passerby admits that she is going to score one by simply asking her mom to buy it for her. (Gotta love spoiled New York bachelorettes!) Some Swedish tourists explain that they're shopping at Chanel because it's cheaper here than in Sweden (damn dollar!) Solomon goes on to point out that unlike a house in the Hamptons or a painting, you can take a bag with you where ever you go — so everyone can see your status symbol. Wielding a $1,700 patent purse at Prada, she asks, "when did bags start to cost as much as cars?" Actually, Ms. Solomon, it's been a while, at least since 1998, when the Fendi baguette spiked in popularity thanks to Sex And The City.


But for us, the moment of clarity comes when unnamed guy says, "You reach a level. You have a house. If you got any brains you have the house first, and then you get the Prada. But getting the Prada while you're in a small apartment? You've got the priorities wrong." Those words stung. Even though ours is Dior and not Prada. We're totally guilty of buying into the luxury brand brainwashing even though we know it's evil. We're not Carrie Bradshaw, with $40,000 worth of shoes and no savings account, but we have made some absurd purchases that made perfect sense. And what that guy doesn't understand is that we're living in a world in which we're constantly being judged. No one can see your wit from across the room. The basis of who we are begins with what we wear. And that can include a well-chosen, well-made, tasteful handbag that just happens to be expensive. Also, some of us have a bag problem. We're working on it, okay? (And by that we mean thinking about buying another bag.) Anyway, here are the top 5 rationales we use when considering expensive shit:

  • 1. It's classic. (For the next 6 months, anyway!)
  • 2. It's so me. (Not taking my credit limit into account!)
  • 3. I'll use it forever. (Or at least until it falls apart, gets lost or I fall in love with something else!)
  • 4. You can't get it anywhere else. (eBay be damned!)
  • 5. It makes me happy. (Momentarily!)

Handbag Sales Boost LVMH [Financial Times]
Handbag Sales Boost Burberry Revenues [Financial Times]
The Power Of The Purse [NY Times]
Earlier: Does The Average Woman Really Have 21 Handbags?