It may not be the most important question during this delicate time but it’s an interesting one for collectors and lovers of fashion: How will the Corona virus affect the luxury market?
So lets rewind for a moment... there I was trying to digest what was happening in the final moments before the quarantine became real. There were constant updates all over Insta and Twitter about manufacturers, retailers and entire malls starting to completely shut down and not allowing any members of the public inside. My mind drifted towards shopping. The new reality seemed unreal. Naturally I started thinking about the situation and wondering would this would be the best or worst time to continue buying luxury items since the prices were likely to drop? Could it be an opportunity to get my little paws on some nice investment pieces? What if some brands suddenly got wiped off the face of the planet and luxury becomes irrelevant, would it lead to loss?
To be honest, these days I’m less about buying investment pieces that are going to sit in a box at the top of my closet and more about brands I know I’m going to wear every day, you know, those things that have fun, ironic vibes. My work wear basics consist of Off White, Philipp Plein (dont judge me), Moschino, Kaws, a hypebae vibe but in the minimalist way, its relaxed, comfortable and fits our casual dress code but when purchasing more established brands, I try to be more thoughtful about my purchases instead of just popping it into an online cart.
Brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Chanel are often referred to as the holy trinity and it’s generally taken for granted that items will increase in resale value every year which can be a deciding factor to purchase for a lot of boujee bitches (myself not excluded). But how will things change and what’s the impact going to be? There are a few points to consider.
Who is the luxury market?
Consider this: over the last decade with the rise of social media, its influencers, flexing and the pressure for the younger market and middle class to wear designer items it’s going to be interesting seeing who has really been carrying the sustainability of the luxury market. Is it really the elite or actually the working class?
Boredom shopping versus survival
There are also millions of people focused cutting back at the moment however there are still many who are bored at home still making purchases. When quarantine started, I was doing quite a bit of online shopping. What can I say… retail therapy is better than no therapy when you’ve been quarantined for 14 days with no end in sight, however once it got to a point where I realised there wasn’t really anywhere to wear items, I lost interest. I suspect that a lot of online shoppers would feel similar. Also, of brands like Chanel do not sell online directly unless it’s a third party website or a pre-loved site like Vestaire or luxury closet, so I’m curious to see how will they sustain themselves or if they will finally go online if the situation continues.
The reselling market on the other hand seems to have a lot more inventory than usual and independent sellers keep reducing the prices. It’s definitely a buyers market at the moment. Goods like Hermes seem to be holding their value but a lot of the sites where people resell investment pieces appear to have sellers more motivated to negotiate. It might be because of the uncertainty of how long lockdown will continue so people feel inclined to stay liquid.
Sales and Discounts.
There are reductions at all of the popular online stores at the moment. I’m seeing Off White tshirts for under AED 600 ($163), Philipp Plein for under AED 1000 ($273), clearance sales on Farfetch.com, MyTheresa.com, Luisaviaroma.com with discounts on items that range between 25% and 50%.
Designers getting involved
It’s pretty cool to see that luxury brands are getting involved in the efforts to combat the virus, LVMH who owns Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari amongst others is producing hand sanitizers and hydralcoholic gels while others such as Prada getting involved of the manufacturing of face masks and protective overalls which is positive to see.
I feel like the way luxury is enjoyed or consumed in coming years might change if the quarantine becomes long term. We do not know what the future holds and if the situation continues for a year or two and the world economy gets much worse, brands might end up moving away from the whole boujee, logomania vibes like they did in the early 2000s and following world wars in previous decades to be subtle in their branding as a way of being sensitive and less flush in light of what a millions of people are going through. And… even if it does recover in the next few months people are likely to still be cautious with their spending after this little scare but then again there is the likelihood that shoppers are starved for living their best life and end up going totally overboard on the luxuries, I guess we’ll have to stay tuned.
Read next: Fine dining in quarantine.