Americans, and the other nouveau-riche nations (looking at you Russia, China), love to be outrageous. There's an entirely different attitude to luxury in the old world although even that might be changing with the power of marketing. Warning: stereotyping and generalizations to follow. One thing I love about Italy and many other European countries is that they don't seem to be obsessed with consumption. They like nice things, will spend to buy them, but also do so within their means and do not glorify the process. For instance, I was surprised in Vienna to see Prada being sold at a non-descript shoe store without fuss or pomp. What? This is just a regular ole shoe store? This is just normal life?
Windowshopping in Vienna
Having worked with several small-medium sized private Italian, family-owned companies now, I have noticed that the emphasis is not on growth and accumulating more and more, but instead on creating a valuable product for the family legacy, their employees, and of course, their customers. This is seen in everything from manufacturing goods down to mozzarella at the little deli on the corner. The attitude toward "things" or "wealth" is not about just wanting more and more, but it's seems to really focus on achieving the "good life." Thus, you see the lovely shoes just being sold in stores not to represent some achievement of status, but just because they are nice, quality things and deserve to be in everyone's lives--at least this was my interpretation.
On the one hand I do love nice things. On the other hand, spending a few thousand on a bag just seems like an awful waste with the shareholders of LVMH (et al) laughing all the way to the bank. Ah, internal conflict.
I type this as I enjoy my daily hit of Starbucks and $12 salad lunch. I'm not sure what I'm saying. I hate the cult of consumerism yet am stuck in it as much as anyone else. Oh, and also the price increases on luxury goods are just ridiculous. I mean ok, fine, the Chinese are doing a lot of the buying these days and they do have serious inflation, but still. It's crazy. Dead cow stitched into a nice shape with a honkin' shiny logo is not worth it (although I will gladly accept a gift haha).
All right, this blog post was totally scattered. Excuse me now while I go find some quality leathergoods, probably Italian-made by some small private company without a hefty marketing budget tacked on. Quality for the sake of quality--not for some imagined fantasy of status and wealth along with its 20% price increases! What-ever, Chanel.