The Joy of Sticker Shock

I guess a lot of people want Giorgio Armani designed clothes but are put off by the expense.

The sticker shock of a $600 t-shirt or a $900 pair of pants can be extreme. You have to take a deep breath to get beyond it, and many people cannot.

I personally witnessed this during one of my trips to Giorgio Armani — actually just about the point where I became an insider, a regular customer — on the third consecutive day I visited and bought something.

As I was admiring some very handsome finely-woven tops, a middle-aged English couple came into the shop. The wife loves the clothing. The husband plays along, asking about some shapes and styles.

But just as soon as he sees the prices he recoils physically, immediately, and quite violently saying “I don’t like any of it! None of it! No, nothing!”

This little back-and-forth between them goes on in front of me and a couple the shop staff for a minute or so, and we all studiously ignore the conversation, which is a feat in the church-like still of the Armani chambers. But the staff share some bemused looks with me that are almost conspiratorial. We all know what he is hiding.

After the couple are gone one of the staff sighs, shrugs, and tells me: “You have to be in the right place mentally to understand Armani prices.”

And honestly I totally understand what they mean, now, but I would not have understood 10 days ago. Back then I would have been that guy. Today I have committed myself and the price is part of the commitment.

You have to be ready to embrace the joy of sticker shock, it is actually a big part of the experience you have decided to embark upon.

As my friend Damien reminded me today, there is a famous French movie quote: “Le prix s’oublie, la qualité reste“, which translates to “You’ll forget the price, quality will remain“.

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