A fine morning for summer fashion in Hong Kong - 20 June 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
a copy Birkin on offer in mainland China
I live in Hong Kong and just over our borders on the mainland there are entire villages devoted to selling fake goods of any description. The only ones that seems to be properly policed are the very high end goods like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Hermès. Pretty much everything else is sold right out in the open. Balenciaga is everywhere, as is Tory Burch, Goyard, and many others who do not seem to have the clout with the Chinese government that the big three have.
I have the sense that among Westerners the only prize worth hunting for is Hermès. And Birkins are high on the wish list. I am not the slightest bit surprised. When you go into an Hermès store with your best Sunday outfit and you ask the employee in front of you with your warmest smile whether you could get on the list to buy a Birkin, you will inevitably be told "the list is closed". Believe me, I have tried. Last year my husband bought me a silver bracelet at Hermès, I was there with him and asked again.... And the answer of course was "no". They exist, they are handed out to Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian like there's no tomorrow but I cannot buy one with all the good will in the world. And then a friend tells me that she constantly gets emails from a posh concierge service with lists and lists of available Birkins at Hermès. That makes me want to take a train to Shenzhen right now.
The contention that only a French craftsman could make such a work of art is pathetic. As early as 1997 I saw amazing handbag samples coming from factories in Taiwan. And with China's cultural heritage it's clear the arts are highly valued here. Unfortunately the government in China does not protect its workers like European governments do, particularly in illegal businesses, but there are fabulously talented workers in China, and what's worse for France is that there are probably millions of them.
According to this article on www.yatzer.com, an Hermès craftsman makes 2 bags a week. Let's say he makes a net salary of 2,400 Euro per month. If he makes 8 bags that month, each bag costs 300 Euro in labor. Let's add 200 Euro for materials and 100 per bag for overhead and all the PR bags for the likes of the Kardashians. I am just making it up as I go along, but what's fairly obvious even without accurate numbers is that the mark-up on these products is pretty extraordinary.
Would counterfeiting stop if Hermès readily sold its bags to nice willing customers like me at a fair price? No, I don't think it would. But they would certainly sell more bags and cut out the shady second hand market in Birkins. And then when Hermès would go whining to the newspapers about the fakes, I might actually have sympathy for them.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Sunday, June 16, 2013
This is an outfit by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac - I would happily wear it now (if I had that tiny waist) even though this suit was designed 30 years ago - I have loved this picture since I first saw it. Photo taken from my own copy of Vogue Paris
Volume with just the right proportions - all runway photos from www.vogue.com
Best outfit in the show!!!!! (on a model who looks exactly like Charlotte Casiraghi)
dress over shorts
Since the Spring 2013 collections were shown on the runways last year, another 4 seasons of fashion have happened. Since then there have been Pre-Fall 2013 Ready-to-Wear shows, Spring Couture 2013 shows, Fall 2013 Ready-to-Wear shows, Resort 2014 shows. It's exhausting just to write it down. This morning I thought I'd go back and have a look at what designers proposed last year for spring - in other words, for right now. And for me, Clare Waight Keller's collection for Chloe best represents what I want to wear this spring.
The second to last picture (white skirt and tank with arrows) is my favorite outfit from the show. I love those arrows in particular because they remind me of some seriously fun and over-the-top clothes Karl Lagerfeld made for Chloe in the early eighties. She managed to bring those arrows back and make them minimalist and modern. Just gorgeous. By the way I can't afford Chloe - so I'm hoping the people at COS liked Clare's clothes as much as I did!
Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe Fall 1983 with the arrow dress in the middle - photo taken from my own copy of Vogue Paris
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
When I lived in NYC there was still a system called "lay away". You would go into the store and make a down payment on something you wanted, let's say a bag, and then you would come in on a regular basis and pay it off in installments. At the end of the process you got to take your bag home. If such a system existed in Hong Kong, I would have been tempted to pay some money down on the red bag far left. A month later, I would realize I actually really like the new brown color with red lines. And yet another month and I would have gone for the plain black, thinking it won't date as easily. And today, I am happy I have avoided all of it because I am already sick of looking at these bags. What a fickle business, fashion...