A mistake and a lesson at Louis Vuitton

A few weeks ago I had a sudden rush of blood to the head and bought what seemed like a very nice jersey from Louis Vuitton, costing about US$930. It had a small LV logo on the neck, but for Vuitton it was quite discreet.

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But on reflection I decided it was a mistake. After returning home I tried it on a couple more times, and realized that as nice as it was, it didn’t fit the style and direction of the wardrobe I am building.

I therefore decided to return the item – and in doing so discovered LV’s returns policy: no refunds.

Credit notes? Yes.

But refunds? No.

And that policy is clearly written both on the receipt and below the cash register, so you have very little wiggle room if all you can say is “I changed my mind” – which is all I personally had to say.

Firstly I find this interesting, as this policy partially explains Vuitton’s continually stellar and growing revenue numbers – they don’t have refunds, so cash in the bank is cash that stays in the bank, and goods go back on the shelf; other stores do return for refund, although they don’t have to do so, at least under EU law.

Secondly it is a tiny bit annoying, mainly because I blindly spent nearly $1000 without thinking about it more carefully and sticking to rules I defined publicly some time ago.

Lessons learned:-

  1. Stick to Giorgio Armani for clothes, and Prada for shoes, just like you said you would.
  2. Don’t buy anything else from Louis Vuitton unless absolutely sure you want it.

I have since used a large chunk of the credit note to buy a nice shawl as a gift for my mother-in-law, who was very happy to have it. I consider that a save.

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Another Giorgio Armani Suit Teaches Me a Lesson

Another day, another acquisition. This time a jet black suit ($1500 minus the 10% discount) that looks about 1000% Giorgio Armani.

With an Armani blue shirt, Hermes tie (acquired in Mexico) and Prada shoes I took on a major business meeting in the USA feeling relaxed and confident.

It took a while to pick this one out, as “fashionably black” is not a typical look for me, but I have to admit I am starting to understand the black thing.

Normally I would not have touched black clothes, now I am seeing the possibilities for coordinating more easily with a wide range of other Armani colours and styles. I am constantly surprised at how this little detour into fashion, style, appearance – yes, even narcissism, about which I will write some more in the future – is teaching me things that I would have considered utterly superficial just a few months ago.

It reminds me of a clever little scene in The Devil Wears Prada:-

It is a little odd that I although I once laughed at this scene from the point of view of neophyte Andy, I now find it funny from the point of view of Miranda, and quite realistic to boot.

I guess you are never too old to learn something new.

Paying Giorgio Armani Prices

I had a couple of comments wondering if this was just some fantasy site — some guy wandering around photographing various Armani stores and waxing lyrical about threads and drapes.

There is an element of that fantasy in this project, for sure: a degree of buying into the brand image, associating with what it personifies, and living in a slightly shifted, somewhat pretentious mental state.

But the buying in is real, not allegorical, as these receipts from Giorgio Armani boutiques in Florence and Munich demonstrate fairly vividly:-

Coincidentally, these payment slips also show the variety of instant discounts you can get in the highest level of Giorgio Armani boutique, just by asking politely and fairly quietly.

There are many more purchases from more recent months, also from Prada, but they spoil the symmetry of this shot — and as we now all know, how things look is more important than what they cost.

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“.