Tuesday, 25 February 2014

50. The Great (Fashion) Debate: Is Fake a Faux Pas?

Fashion designer and businesswoman Ashley Olsen steps out in alligator backpack, $39,000 (c. £23,400) from her line The Row.

The fashion set are tough to decipher.

One season it's alright to wear animal print when it was once considered trashy, another season it's the done thing to sport baseball caps with pencil skirts.  Animal fur in particular is condemned by many as being immodest and insensitive towards animal torture, with the faux version increasingly embraced by fashion's high society (read: Stella McCartney) as being equally as fashionable as the real deal - albeit for reasons along more moral lines.

But why can't the same apply to other luxury goods? Is it not also, to an extent, highly immoral to price what is essentially a sack made of animal skin which carries other things at an amount which could also serve as a down-payment on a well-placed London apartment? What about the importance of money management? Is it not immoral to charm young fashion lovers' minds into thinking that it is socially acceptable to scrape their current accounts, student loans and overdrafts clean of savings to purchase such a sack, only then to endure a month-long diet plan rich in bread and beans?

Please note, reader, that there's a log in my own eye too. There's something about luxury fashion that I love, despite its slight frivolity. When I finally bought my first luxury handbag after working part-time (in a luxury fashion boutique, ironically) during university and saving up in anticipation of the eventual crusade to Old Bond Street (seriously underwhelming by the way - the staff at Chanel weren't very friendly), my boyfriend at the time ignored me for at least 24 hours and then, when his words finally returned, mocked me for about a month. Every time I wore my new bag outdoors, he respond with "you could have bought a car with that money", or "you could have gone on two holidays with that". And he was right. But in my mind at the time fake was not an option, and so break the bank I would.

Which is why I almost fell off my chair when I read Shini Park's post on the (highly coveted) Chanel Boy bag. A well-respected fashion blogger admitting that a luxury item is not an essential? Is this the writing of a hacker?

Shini Park of Park and Cube wearing the Chanel Boy handbag, c. £2,500.

It’s borrowed, don’t ask. I’m flattered though, that anyone would assume I have enough speech & debate skills to convince my husband, to whom Tommy Hilfiger is couture and Tom Ford is the CEO of Ford – the car company – that spending three months’ rent on a bag (a transparent one at that) is reasonable...we (I say we, but I mean me) are not yet in a junction in life to warrant a brand spankin’ new Chanel boy bag...I still want to work towards a stage in life where I can afford a Chanel/Hermes/LV bag without disrupting priorities.

Of course, Park's bag is borrowed and is indeed authentic, but does she grieve at the inability to purchase one for herself? Not really. What we have here is an acknowledgement of the irrationality in purchasing an item for which one's finances do not allow (or, in modern day speak, understanding the importance of "staying in one's lane"). To an extent, it's not even solely about an inability to purchase at the premium price; during my (part) time in luxury fashion, I met a significantly wealthy client who once admitted that her entire Louis Vuitton collection was counterfeit. I would never have known.

In the same way that fake (faux) fur has been accepted by fashion circles from Sloane Square to Sydney to Stockholm and back again as a more affordable (and more moral) version of its mammal-like counterpart, will it ever be acceptable for young women to tote the latest Céline calfskin tote *whispers* in its imposter version and thus at a fraction of the price?

Let's talk about this. Comment below/via Twitter because I'm still torn.

You can read Shini Park's blogpost here: http://www.parkandcube.com/pinstripe-coat-leather-trousers/

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