Chanel: A Cycle of Wants and Never-Wills
I found myself wandering into a Chanel store a few years back and remembered falling in love. One of the perfumes in the Chanel store, the Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere, gripped me with fervour. Ever since, it has been a relationship of much longing; me looking wistfully at the gorgeous bottle and my wallet holding me back.
A month back, I summed up the courage to part with about RM400 to finally purchase that bottle of perfume. So money in hand, I walked into the store at Ion Orchard (Singapore) and casually asked the store assistant for the price for the largest bottle. The store assistant fumbled for the item scanner (Chanel hardly displays the prices) and broke the news to me. It was nearly RM600. I let out a soft moan.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The moan was not only for the fact that I was definitely not going to pay so much for a scent, but because I realised that “Oh no, Chanel decided to go ahead with a global price increase this year.”
Let me stick this in your head. Chanel is recession-proof. To buy a Chanel bag and keep it in its pristine condition, only to sell it off 5 or 10 years later will probably give you better returns than the stock market. Even as the world’s economy takes a dip, the house of Chanel stands strong in pricing. They do not reduce prices. They do not hold ‘sales’. No, they actually increase their prices when almost the entire world is in a recession (like now). I’m sure you understand why a moan escaped my lips.
Global price increases of 20-30% may not look too bad. You’re already paying so much, what’s a little extra? Alas, Chanel bags have prices in the 5-digit range. A friend once checked out the Chanel store at Ngee Ann City (Singapore), and bluntly asked, “Aren’t there too many zeroes on this one?” In case you’re still not getting it, here’s an example: In June 2013, a Chanel Large Classic Flap was priced at about RM16,000. A few months later, it suddenly shot up to nearly RM 20,000. That price increase could have probably fed a family of four for at least a month.
The worst part is that Chanel can increase their prices all they want, and the demand will not waver. Caviar 2.55s in Black with Gold Hardware are still selling out all over the world as we speak. To hold a Chanel bag in your hands is like a worldwide sign of having ‘made it’. That sign is so well-believed, that people who can’t afford the real thing now look for knock-offs. Sorry, was that word too harsh? Surely I meant ‘inspired’ instead.
There are now not only AAA-grade Chanels, but you can also find ‘SUPER GRADE!!!’ and ‘1:1’ replicas without too much effort. Replicas are so widespread that sometimes it can be hard to discern whether it is an original. To rub salt in the wound, these replicas are not cheap. They can reach RM2,000 for a single bag. 2K for a replica! I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.
That, ladies and gentlemen is the power of Chanel. The metal used for the chain links and the CC plate is not even pure gold. It’s 24K gold-plated or 22k gold mixed alloy-plated. It means that with enough wear and tear, the gold will start chipping off your RM16k handbag. It might just rust. That knowledge still does not change anything though. People are still going to keep wanting Chanel bags, and you can be sure that it’s not just the tai-tais buying it.
In the end, I looked back at my family and thought to myself, I’m from a middle-income family and I have relatives who are struggling to make ends meet. Who am I to crave this expensive bag, and what do I gain from it? And so I said a half-hearted goodbye to Chanel and this endless cycle of wants. It’s not all that bad. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get it in a hantaran. Maybe my pay would be so great one day that it wouldn’t hurt so much to think of the price. I mentioned this to my best friend, and she (jokingly) told me that she would take another road that never crossed my mind: she would go on to Craigslist and post “HMU need suga dadi 2 pay 4 ma Channel [sic]”. I laughed at the satire.
Pictures were taken from Chanel’s official site and can be found at http://www.chanel.com.