There was a time when luxury was only available to aristocrats and royalty. Couture meant getting bespoke, one-of-a-kind pieces of the highest quality and a pampered buying experience. We might viewÂ Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton as the ultimate status brands,Â whose productsâ€”and logosâ€”connote high-class living, but during their lifetimes, these designers simply worked in their own boutiques, makingÂ some of the best clothes on earth for their private clients.
Now fashionÂ houses are bought out by global corporations, whose main goal is sales growth. According to the book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, a corporation like LVMH can buy aÂ family-owned business for their name and heritage, bring in a hot young designer, stage crazy runway shows for press, dress celebrities in their designs, and make profit from licensing out the brand name for accessible products like perfumes and sunglasses. Luxury for the massesâ€”and you know what? The formula works.
Now that the luxury market is about logos, and quantity over quality, those who seek true luxury must look beyond the labels. Since corporations are all about growth, they will cut corners to get their sales goals met.Â How can a bag be considered a luxury item when it’s made in a sweatshop in Asia, then shipped to Italy to get a handle stitched on to warrant the “Made in Italy” label?
Today, luxury to me still means superior design and high-quality clothes made by skilled artisans, but from companies whose workers make at least a living wage, and work in safe and clean factories. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.
I still respect the creatives of theÂ big fashion brandsâ€”many areÂ innovative, and with their big budgets, some do keep certain art forms alive and talented artisansÂ employed, butÂ I’m picky about who I buy from, and I research where everything is made before I take the plunge. It takes more effort, but it’s much more rewarding to know that I’m contributing to the growth of good companies, and not the ones who are exploiting people and the environment.
Luxury is owning pieces I love and respect, clothes I’d want to wear season after season. I always ask myself whether the quality and design of a piece would stand on its own if the labels were removed.
Every piece I’m wearing in this outfit is well made, classic, and versatile.
TheÂ black silk camisoleÂ is from Everlane. The silk is thick and soft. It’s in a loose cut that can be dressed up or down. The label proudly proclaims that it’s made in Hangzhou, China, in an ethical factory.
My high-waisted wide leg pants are from Maiyet, one of my favourite ethical luxury brands. They work with artisans from around the world or make their pieces locally. TheseÂ pants were made in the US. I feel really chic whenever I wear them. I bought them from the Maiyet store in New York. They tailored the pants to suit me and delivered it to my hotel once it was done.
The white purse is from Rachel Comey, ethically made in China using wicker from the Philippines and vegetable-tanned leather from Italy.
The boater hat is from a traditional millinery called Lilliput Hats. I had my eye on a similar style from Eugenia Kim, but it turned out that buying a custom-made hat here in Toronto cost less, believe it or not.
I recently got these CastaÃ±er ‘Carina’ wedgesÂ and now I live in them. The arch support is amazing and I hardly feel the 3.5-inch wedge. CastaÃ±er’s Espadrilles are popular, the ultimate Mediterranean shoe. The company has been around for decades. They made Espadrilles for Yves Saint Laurent in the ’70s and have collaborated with other top fashion houses. To this day, CastaÃ±er is one of the few family-run Spanish shoemakers who use traditional craftsmanship.
WHITE PANTSÂ â€” MAIYETÂ