Why we want luxury items


I actively look for antique glassware at thrift and charity shops. I’m close to a full set of 4 on at least one of the patterns. I’ve even found pieces that match the glassware I inherited from my grandmother. I’ve always thought matching dishes were a bit overrated. Probably because of Fiestaware that grandma had when I was growing up.


Not bullshit. How do you explain the success of the Kardashian luxury brand?


For this idea taken to it’s most entertaining conclusion, listen to the “Haunted Doll Watch” segments of My Brother, My Brother and Me (or just search for haunted dolls on eBay, and eat up all the delicious back-story-as-sales-pitch inadvertent literature)


I guess that’s one way to look at it, though I would suggest there is some definite crossover.
I bought a pair of made in the USA “casual” boots recently for 350 bucks that I consider to be a luxury for me as it was purchased only because I liked them. Then again, they will likely outlive me, so they are quality, too.
I have a couple vintage mechanical watches that are 40 and 50 years old that are a luxury for me. Doubtful that anyone would even know what they were unless they were watch collectors.
A Pendleton costs 150 bucks for some of their shirts, but they look just like a flannel, albeit clearly quality. I consider a purchase of that as a luxury item at this point for most people.


What were they successful at doing, precisely? I was never informed of what their goals may be. Also, I am not sure if there is any consensus about what “luxury” they may or not even provide. If people here are defining luxury as “that which gives them pleasure” (which would actually be voluptas, rather than luxuria), then it seems to obviously follow that not all people derive pleasure from the same things.


The line of clothes and accessories that Sears dumped earlier this year? Pretty sure no one enters Sears with the expectation of any apparel within possibly being described as ‘luxury’. Aspirational, at best.


I have no experience with their stuff, and frankly I wouldn’t buy it because I don’t care for them, their ilk, or the shit they manufacture.

Apart from that, the success or failure of a particular brand does not correlate to the performance of the item in question. A luxurious BMW M3 will shit it’s transmission just as easily as a baby-shit-brown Toyota Tercell.

Saudi royalty may fly around in a gold-and-diamond encrusted 747, but those bathroom fixtures and tables work just as well, if not better, without the gold plating and Brazilian Rosewood.


The article dances around, but doesn’t explicitly say that the individual purchaser’s motivation in acquiring said item does help to define it as luxury or not. Of course, it’s a weird article that poorly defines “luxury” but also poorly defines it’s goal, which, as far as I can determine, is to argue that liking luxury items isn’t as purely negative and superficial as some would argue.

I agree with you that there is a certain set of goods that are not necessarily luxury items, but can become so, depending on the motivation and intended use. A sailboat, to a person running a sailing school, or a person living in a time where sailboats are the cutting edge of transportation technology, are necessities. Quality, for them, equates to wise investing. But it’s clear to see how this easily becomes a luxury item in other contexts. The same could be said for “good” boots. On a person for whom boot quality is a matter of wise utility, they are not luxury. For a person who buys those same boots for superficial reasons, they are luxury.

This extension of Bloom’s “people want an item with history” argument is missing in the original article, and actually more interesting. People who buy a subset of luxury items that have been in the correct context important and wise purchases, actually get a unique kind of satisfaction from wearing those items as luxury items. Almost so that a little of that old-world wisdom will rub of on them as a kind of transposed class and “plausible deniability” that there purchase was mere fluff.


Yea, but if you want to enjoy your drive, the former is much more fun and comfortable… :smile:
Though you can get about the same amount of fun from a GTI - nice compromise and half the cost. As usual, somewhere in the middle is a good place to land.


I earn part of a living selling a luxury item: the wrist watch that is worn by a famous engineer. The fact that he wears one accounts for a significant percentage of my sales. Other than that, the item’s novelty appeals more than its practicality or durability. I have no explanation for the social phenomenon, but it pays the rent.

I mean, watch this video and try to not want one!


it’s nice, but I hate wrist watches : P


What percentage comes from mentions on here? :slight_smile:


The Woz can really show and tell.

eta Also that’s some pretty serious nerd cred, having a YT with Woz you can point to and show your work.


Good on you! I was aware of this largely because of /. or thinkgeek.

On second thought, I’m not sure which is worse.

But the Woz is unimpeachable!


I’m starting to get a better picture of your Larder now… and why there are so many deaths associated with it :meat_on_bone:


It makes more sense if you misread wants as warts.


Blecch! Rotten food! You finish eating the Kop Kaptain’s corpse.


Historically luxury had connotations of quality craftsmanship and time spent in production in pre-industrial societies. The history of any one item was both the history of its creation - the development of materials and techniques - and its ownership and life since its creation.

The essential function of industrialisation is to drive down costs of production in time and materials making any one product’s creation less and less individually interesting. We don’t want to know that our luxury items are mostly now produced in factories in the Far East like everything else. (The only story left is one of its saving someone’s life, to be put on eBay, etc.)

Ironically it was the skills developed in watchmaking which were essential for the invention of the Jacquard loom and the Babbage engine whigh made the industrial revolution and computing possible.

I suspect that we all spend more money on some items than is strictly necessary and have myriad ways of justifying it to ourselves unless you want to feel that you work only to afford the bare minimum. That is probably what luxury is in industrial societies not maxing out all your cards on designer labels.

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