September 28, 2011  ·  culture  ·  style

Deluxe and the defence of Hermès

The recent success of French luxury brand Hermès in fighting off a hostile takeover bid by the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy monolith might, on its surface, look like the kind of thing about which we couldn't give a flying f**k—nobody here really wants nor could afford a $5,000 weekender bag or a $1,100 sweater. But the players in this latest drama both figure prominently in Dana Thomas' 2007 book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, reminding us how relevant the book is for anyone interested in couture in general. Regardless of what we may think of Hermès place in the market and its target audience, they remain a "true" luxury brand; at least part of their high pricing is attributable to the high quality of their source materials and time-consuming hand-rendered workmanship. And given the well-documented history of LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault, it's pretty much a given what his ownership of the 174-year-old house would have meant: logo-covered, Chinese-made crap; diffusion lines; and glued-together bags rotting in outlet stores. Thomas' book not only spells out the philosophical chasm between these two companies, but also does a wonderful job of demonstrating how little most luxury brand logos really mean anymore.

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