Luxury's Luster Lost: The Consequence Of Brand Oversaturation
Left to right: Lil Kim (photo by David LaChapelle), Cristal, Louboutins, Louis Vuitton bag

Fantasy fulfillment by way of luxury goods is ultimately about the unattainable, with consumers fantasizing about how life is enhanced by a luxury brand.

And these days, with designer collaborations, lower price point diffusion lines and couture outlets, everyone has a chance at a slice of luxury.

But there was a time when luxury wasn’t only a product for the masses; it was a lifestyle that was only affordable to an aristocratic world of celebrity, royalty and established wealth. Luxury was tradition, superior quality and a pampered buying experience. Now, the unattainable has become attainable for many, making the luxury consumer  an all too common reality.

One might argue that upscale brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Fendi have lost their exclusivity in the minds of consumers.

Jennifer Lopez's Louboutins
Jennifer Lopez’s cover art for
her “Louboutin” track

Perhaps one reason for this might be the excessive reference to such brands in the media. From Jennifer Lopez releasing a single in 2009 about her love for Christian Louboutins to hip hop artists splurging on bottles of Cristal in nightclubs, these notable brands are no longer signs of a refined palate.

The trend that celebrity endorsements made luxury products more desirable, expensive and exclusive is now the opposite. As the media showcases these brands as every day necessities (remember Jessica Simpson’s 2003 “With You” music video using her Louis Vuitton bag as a laundry hamper for dirty clothes and for mopping the floor?), the public has increased its need to adopt these high-end brands into mundane living. This has led to an industry of designer replicas that tarnish the once iconic.

Another area of controversy for high fashion brands is its complicated relationship with the hip hop community. Though celebrity endorsements of luxury fashion have always been important for brands, some couture houses are shying away from their hip hop connections.

Jessica Simpson Mopping In "With You" Video
Jessica Simpson using an LV bag to mop
the floor in her 2003 “With You” video[divider]

Take managing director of Cristal, Frédéric Rouzaud’s view that hip-hop culture was “unwelcome attention.”

Lil’ Kim posing with the logo of the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton from head to toe on her naked body arguably takes the LV name from luxury to the pedestrian in seconds flat.

High-end brands once represented exclusivity and wealth, but the aspirations of consumers to look and live like the celebrities that they see in the media has caused upscale brands to lose their value and prestige.

Perhaps Kreayshawn says it best in her “Gucci Gucci” lyrics, “Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada/Basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother.”