The Lure of Luxury


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Why are luxury goods priced so high and why do people want them in the first place. This needull looks ate different possible reasons for the lure of luxury.

Postrel quotes James Twitchell, in Living it Up (2002), talking about a visit to the Beverly Hills Armani store with his college-aged daughter. He describes how customers would stroke the suits and how his daughter, originally skeptical, found herself entranced by the items. Twitchell sees the attraction of such goods as rooted in self-image and personal identity, but for Postrel it is simpler than that: “People pet Armani clothes because the fabrics feel so good. Those clothes attract us as visual, tactile creatures, not because they are ‘rich in meaning’ but because they are rich in pleasure.” Twitchell’s daughter is captivated “not so she can impress anyone else or feel affiliated with prestigious brands. She wants these luxuries because they are aesthetically appealing, because they are, in a word, beautiful.”

The pleasure of these objects does feel immediate and sensual. But Postrel is too quick to dismiss Twitchell’s claim about meaning. The shoppers know, after all, that they are stroking Armani suits. Would they react the same way if reaching into the discount rack at Marshalls offered the same sensory experience?

Probably not.

The complete article

Paul Bloom — Boston Review

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