Thursday, April 28, 2011


Hermes is one of those magical, mysterious and timeless high end brands that clearly depicts the whole idea of 'fashion fantasy'. Fantasy in the way that just the name alone is so coveted and represents so much status, that people are willing to spend sometimes over $15,000 on a single purse (hello, birkin. i see you over there girl. and by there, i mean far, far away from my closet.) As a fashion marketing student, I find brands like this to be the most interesting. Of course Hermes products are beautiful, of high quality and classic. But are they entirely worth how much consumers are paying for them? Well, that's up for discussion.

Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, fashion can be about two things: presenting clothing to humans for a way of covering up their bodies and simply getting through the day, or to represent status and present a specific way of life to society. Of course there are gray areas and plenty of reasons why fashion exists in between but on the whole, those are the two main arenas. Maybe they're the most interesting areas of fashion: People who care too little and people who care too much. People who spend too little and people who spend too much.

That's when luxury brands come into the picture. Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, etc. These are labels that represent a specific type of dream. People buy items from these brands of course for aesthetic reasons but on the whole..they want to say "It's Gucci.", "It's Chanel". Or they simply want to tote their quilted 2.55 on their arms as they silently go about their day, but knowing in the back of their mind that people are most likely looking at the bag. Same goes for fast and flashy cars, big boats, over the top expensive wine (um? haven't you guys ever heard of Leaping Horse $6.95 wine from Kroger? No? Well, you don't know what you're missin', I swear to christ!)

Some may say that all of this is stupid, a waste of money, a waste of time and shows the downfall of society and how vain everyone can be. To that, I say "what's your damage?" and "relax". Everyone has their vices. And also, who is to say that it's a vice? If you can afford it, then why not? How people spend their money is none of your bizniz. But me? Some girl on a tight budget, sittin' in her Target v-neck and Urban Outfitters leggings? It kind of is my business. It's what I'm studying. So what do I have to say about all of this? I think it's tremendously interesting. I swear to the Angel of Michael Jackson that anyone who is interested in psychology and sociology should absolutely read into the fashion industry and consumer behavior. I never find it boring, and there is always something to discover.

Hermes is probably the most mysterious and intimidating fashion brands in my opinion. People even get nervous when they try to pronounce Hermes. It's like they freak out that the fashion gestapo is going to start knocking down their door, with sirens going off like in an old black and white war movie if they say "Herm-ies" instead of "Air-mess". HOW DO YOU SAY IT? I DONT KNOW THE RIGHT WAY TO SAY IT! ISN'T THERE A TEN YEAR WAITING LIST FOR THE BIRKIN BAG? AH! I CANT DEAL WITH IT. Hermes seems to produce sheer panic and total intrigue. Maybe I'm wrong but I feel like that's a perfect marketing scheme.

This week, during the Derek Lam lecture, his partner (both in life & in business) Jan Schlottmann joined the stage. He's a marketing and branding man who was chock full of good advice. He explained that he chose to be involved in luxury brands as opposed to just regular ol' brands because there is more of a sense of fantasy and creativity. You create this whole lifestyle and dream that people will spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on and buy into it in order to somehow fulfill their own personal goals. In a lot of cases, purchasing can make people happy. It can better their way of life. Of course it's an issue if shopping is the only way to make you happy. that's a whole other issue. a psychological issue and I'm sure as hale not equipped to bark my opinions on that. That's like blaming McDonalds for obesity. Just don't eat it. Simply. So you can't blame fashion and marketing for personal bankruptcy. Ultimately, it's up to the individual person to make their own decisions.

So, lady who lives in a pile of Louis Vuitton bags, wears only Jimmy Choos but can't afford to eat anything other than tuna from a can? Let's reel it in with the conspicuous consumption. You're not fooling anyone, girl.

Some may say it's trickery or a big scam. Just some bullshit. Maybe it is? But countless jobs rely on this whole realm of bullshit. It's a billion dollar industry for a reason. Maybe a woman saved up for years to finally get that Birkin, and she leaves the store feeling accomplished. What's so wrong with that? What's so wrong with goals, even if they're fashion related goals? All of it is up for discussion, but in the end, it's pretty amazing to step back and see (from both a marketing and psychological perspective) how it all works.

Looking at these ads, I find it really cool that they really portray this young & bohemian vibe. It's a bit of a strange way to portray what they're selling. When I think of Hermes, I think of middle aged/older wealthy customers but they're clearly trying to broaden their horizons and show that they are versatile. They are versatile. The dream of owning an Hermes item knows no age.

Maybe it's just me but I love how luxury brands are very theatrical, dreamy and dramatic. Take a boring pencil that's worth 50 cents, slap this logo on it, and mark it up outrageously. Someone is going to buy it at full price and feel cool about it. They will probably even say "Do you like my Hermes pencil? It's so fabulous."

There are some silly people out there and I love it.