As someone who once tried to launch a blog called a Fashionista’s Guide To Technology the last 6 months have been hell in my blog reading and podcast listening life. Listening to tech dudes of all stripes ramble on about the fashion industry and it’s clientele has to be how developers feel when they listen to non-developers talk about software and technology. I’ve listened and read the as they wring their hands about the impact of a 10,000 dollar watch on apple retail and how will apple step up it’s retail services in the future to accommodate such fashion items. I hate to spoil the magic of the illusive luxury brand shopping experience but you’ve already had it.
It’s a saturday morning. You’ve had breakfast with your family. You hit up the mall where you want to do some shopping. You know what you want. You walk into the crowded store, past the security guard and make your way to the display of what you want. Once you gotten their attention, you let them know what you would like. They check the stock and return from the back with it for you. You pay, they bag, and you leave.
So did you buy an iPad or a fancy LV handbag? The answer is I don’t know. Unless I knew if you left with a white bag or a brown bag I couldn’t tell you. This is the everyday reality of modern luxury shopping. It’s not store clerks trying on clothing for you while feeding you cheese, fruit and wine . It’s not the shopping scene from Pretty Women. This is not the everyday occurrence of luxury shopping. Personal shopping happens but it is not the norm and to think other wise is fantasy.
I hate to break it to you but all the reasons that you love apple are a lot of the reasons that someone else loves a luxury house. Luxury Houses use proprietary and premium materials. So does apple. They all understand the concept of keeping as much as possible in house. LV, Chanel and Hermes all own their own tanneries. LV has it’s own proprietary coated canvas. Think of it as the handbag equivalent of designing the hardware and the software. Luxury fashion house and Apple push design boundaries that become iconic and trickle down thru their respective industries. Swap out a few details from the fictional Miranda Priestly's Cerulean blue sweater speech and you have the story of the iPhone and the way it changed smartphones forever.
The biggest reason that apple is right at home with most luxury houses is they know who their customers are, but more importantly who their customers aren’t. Louis Vuitton never has sales. Never. Not even when a bag is being discontinued. The bag is sold at full price until all stock is gone. Any long lingering bags are destroyed. Here is the price of the bag. Here are the sizes and shapes and colors it is sold in. Take it or leave it. Apple is the same way. While apple does have sales. They are unapologetic about how they wield and disregard current technological advances. Here is this years iPhone. We included what we thought were the best choices for our users experience. Buy it, or there is the door.
Cars Vs Fashion
Slap the word luxury on something and people tend to think it’s market must work in the same way. I am sure that in marketing and other factors that can be true. I think that the luxury end of any market mirrors that market more than each other. So when Cars are Compared to handbags and trench coats it makes me laugh. The biggest difference is modern cars are a semi disposable commodity. The Car industry as a whole has bought into the idea that people will drive cars for X amount of time and then get a new one. You don’t find that mentality at the heart of luxury fashion houses. Rolex knows that it will have far less interactions with it’s clientele than say BMW. I think that if people want to compare an Apple Watch Edition to another luxury market it would be more akin to luxury cars then say luxury accessories. Both apple and the car company have to keep making it compelling for you to want to drop 5 figures on basically same product multiple times in your life. Rolex, LV and Hermes would like you to do the same, but they operate in a market where that isn’t a given. Once you buy a Speedy from LV they hope that they can tempt you back in for a wallet or a Speedy in different canvas or size. You are less likely to find that in smartphones, cars, and computers. People tend to buy the newer model of what ever was working for them. The newer model of a handbag, is still that same handbag so why buy it again?
Women don’t wear big watches, these watches are huge.
I’ve seen more than my fare share of this comment being flung around. The fact is it’s bullshit. Don’t believe me? Search for #ArmParty on Instagram. Say hello to the 42mm and 45mm Michael Kors Chrongraphers watch. This watch is the darling of fast fashion watches of the past few years. You wanna get on the same level as the new Apple Watch Edition? Search for Chanel J12. People have have been going bonkers for this Unisex watch since it’s release in 1999. Most popular size? the 38mm. The same as the smaller apple watch.
So how will apple go about selling this 10,000 dollar gold apple watch. Well there are two schools they could follow. The Louis Vuitton Sac Louis route where they have an small well appoint space that is secured by appointment. You get to touch and preen with the Sac Louis. They fawn over you as you make your choice of color. Then you place your order and the bag will be shipped to the store where you will finish paying for it as described before in our little role playing scene. My money is they take the Hermes route where spending 10,000-80,000 dollars on a Berkin bag is not treated like a grand extravagance. You walk in buy the watch and walk out.
I am excited to see Apple coming full circle into being a luxury brand because they do it the right way. They ofter something that is attainable and extravigant. For those that want to be utilitarian and those who want to be fashion minded. I think that tech has always placed utilitarian ideals over the “frivolities” of fashion. Apple is trying to balance both. I think the inclusion of gold in their laptops is another step in that direction. The sheer number of female fashion/lifestyle bloggers I’ve seen swooning and lusting over that macbook way out numbers the cries for ridicule and hate from the male enthusiast press. I think however it will take some time for the tech press and fanboys to get over the idea that apple isn’t just their playground anymore. As someone who loves fashion and technology, I couldn’t be more excited.