The hottest accessory brand in the world at the moment would have to be Bottega Veneta, the respected Italian luxury house headed by British born creative director Daniel Lee.
His oversized pouch bags and quilted mules have been a huge hit with the fashion and influencer crowd, and the prices are not for the faint-hearted: a pretty blue leather pouch bag with a chunky gold chain strap will set you back a whopping $5200, and I am pretty sure that handle isn’t 24 carats.
But there was some blowback on the internet this month when the eagle-eyed team behind the popular ‘Diet Prada’ Instagram account pointed out a Bottega Veneta beaded necklace, very similar to daisy chain necklaces one could find on Etsy for $25 or the type of seed bead necklaces and bracelets made by Indigenous Mexican artisans and sold (too cheaply for the work put into them) to tourists for under $100. The Bottega necklace was retailing for $3390. That’s quite the mark up for something that has no luxury value at all expect for the brand name, no precious stones, and in fact, no originality.
The justification behind the huge prices at designer stores is normally workmanship: smell the fine leathers, feel the whisper soft double-faced cashmere, admire the hand stitching. This I can understand. I also believe in paying a premium for good design and would much prefer to give my money to the designer who created something beautiful, with an artist’s integrity, than buy the knock off.
Daniel Lee’s handbags are works of art. But there are times when you just have to look at an item – a pair, say, of plastic pool slides in Prada with a fluffy fake fur strap for $1200 – and say “WTF?”. Mind you, I will also sigh with delight at the pale pink gossamer silk chiffon trench coat in Prada and would happily hand over the $3000, if I had it, lol.
But not every luxury item is worth the big dollars. Value is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, and my eye sees more value in buying authentic beaded jewellery from an indigenous designer than from a jaundiced luxury house that is pretty much just parting a fool from her money.
There is a lot of wink-wink irony going on at the luxury houses, like $1500 hoodies, but the joke is on the customer. There are things I am prepared to pay more for, like cashmere knits, soft leather jackets and boots, tailored jackets, silk lingerie, anything handmade, embroidered or beaded. But there are also those wonderful basics that don’t require a designer premium: jeans, workout gear, denim or flannel shirts, sneakers, black leggings and, of course, fluffy pool slides and plastic beads, all of which can be found at Big W, Kmart or Cotton On.
I admire the design integrity of Bottega Veneta’s handbags and shoes. They are way out of my budget, but I won’t be buying the fake version, out of respect. So when it comes to charging $3390 for a beaded necklace, I think they should have some respect for us.