Luxury Brands - Should we possess them?

Posted on 03.12.2009

I have my roots in very humble beginnings. The modest environment where I grew up nurtured in me a strong urge to travel overseas and explore the world. Till today I remember, every quality gift, however small, would let a wide grin cross my face. I loved them, one because they were not readily available in my country and the second being my advocacy for quality even at that tender age. I simply adored the boldness and confidence of superior quality. But quality came at a price and so my appreciation for quality remained confined within the bounds of those fond gifts of mine.

Even today, when times have changed, my appreciation for quality has not. I travelled the world, graduated from Banana Republic to Marks and Spencer and then to finer things in life. Today I am fond of brands like Zegna, Louis Vuitton and Loro Piana. However, wise advisors around me still counsel me saying that it would cost me a fraction of the money to get a suit stitched in Bangkok, with its inexhaustible list of good tailors. But then, I ask them in lighter vein, who is NOT a tailor in Bangkok? Jokes aside, I have never felt the same strong emotion and confidence that a luxury brand exudes from a stitched suit and I guess, I never will.

Yesterday I went to a very small Indian restaurant to eat some street-food-favorites. One friend admired my jacket. Nice jacket, when did you get it? he asked. Just 9 years. I saw his gaze turn to admiration and I could see it was all for the quality of the material itself which seemed off the shelf for only a few hours (or was it because I managed to fit within the same jacket for 9 years? I assume the former)

I am back from a recent trip (which was sponsored as so I'll skip the details) that made me reinforce some of my takes on quality. It is how certain folds are unfolded and certain unfolds folded, that make a brand. I have always strongly believed that quality is here to stay and brands should tell the world if they are good. I also learnt, six years back, that if you have a great product but do not know how to package it, you are not a businessman.

So why this fuss over the brands, the branding campaigns, fashion shows and all the glitz and glamour? I think this is because it's important for the brands to shout to create awareness that they are the best. I solemnly believe that there is nothing wrong in a brand proclaiming that they are the best, if it is truly the matter. Stating facts is not arrogance. Also, it is important for luxury brands to create awareness which keeps counterfeits away. Counterfeits never support the legitimate government, they support parallel economy. Whether advertent or inadvertent, by associating us with counterfeit goods we never serve the right cause for humanity

Below are some of the brands which according to the Luxury Institute Survey (www.luxuryInstitute.com) deliver the best combination of quality, exclusivity, customer experience and peer prestige

-- Women's Fashion:

-- Chanel-7.56
-- Valentino-7.54
-- Louis Vuitton-7.53

-- Women's Shoes:

-- Christian Louboutin-8.37
-- Manolo Blahnik-8.35
-- Jimmy Choo-8.30

-- Handbags:

-- Hermes-7.84
-- Chanel-7.69
-- Jimmy Choo-7.66

-- Men's Fashion:

-- Loro Piana-7.79
-- Ermenegildo Zegna-7.32
-- Giorgio Armani-6.94

-- Men's Shoes:

-- Bottega Veneta-7.83
-- Piaciotti Cesare-7.77
-- Salvatore Ferragamo-7.64

-- Automobiles:

-- Porsche-7.53
-- Mercedes-Benz-7.24
-- Jaguar-7.18

I mention below my take on certain categories on men's grooming that bear some resemblance and difference with the Luxury Institute's verdict.

Men's Fashion

Loro Piana
Louis Vuitton
Ermenegildo Zegna

(I am now moving away from normal Zegna (except Su misura) as I do not respect brands going on sale or discount, which denies the right value to its true customers)

Shoes

Stefano Moreschi
Fratelli Rossetti
Tod's

Watches

Breguet
Parmigianni
Patek Philippe

Wallets

Loewe
Louis Vuitton
Hermes

Scarfs(men)

Loro Piana
Hermes
Pink

Shirts

Stefano Ricci
Kiton
Louis Vuitton

Ties

Marinella
Brioni
Hermes

Cuff Links

Breguet
Links
Louis Vuitton

Pen

Mont Blanc
Cartier
Montegrappa

The above list is taster of my personal favorites in the men's grooming category. However, I do not advocate these brands in any way. Over the years this profession of catering to finer experiences in life has brought my personal tastes in alignment as expressed in this list. Keep reading as in the next post I bring up some of my hot favorites in eating out and travel.

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