389 pages, 9.75 × 6.75 × 1.25 in
August 21, 2007
Penguin Press (HC)
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1594201293
ISBN - 13: 9781594201295
About the Book
Thomas, the style and cultural reporter for "Newsweek," takes a hard-hitting look at the world of new luxury, and argues that globalization and corporate greed have ensured that old-time manufacturing has bowed to sweatshops and wild profits to produce mediocre merchandise.
From the Publisher
A hard-hitting behind-the-scenes look at the luxury fashion industry today There was a time when luxury was available only to the rarefied and aristocratic world of old money and royalty. Luxury wasn't simply a product, it was a lifestyle, one that denoted a history of tradition, superior quality and offered a pampered buying experience. Today's luxury marketplace would be virtually unrecognizable to its founders. Gone are the family-owned businesses dedicated to integrity and quality; the industry is now run by multi-billion dollar global corporations focused on growth, visibility, brand-awareness, advertising and above all, profits. Handcrafted goods are practically extinct, and almost all manufacturing has been outsourced to large factories in such places as China, where your expensive brand-name handbag is being assembled right next to one from a mass-market label that will cost substantially less. Dana Thomas, a journalist who has covered style and the luxury business for "The Washington Post," "Newsweek" and "The New York Times Magazine" from Paris for the past fifteen years, digs deep into the dark side of the luxury industry to uncover all the secrets that Prada, Gucci and Burberry don't want us to know. Traveling from the laboratories in Grasse, where the ingredients for Christian Dior and Prada perfumes are produced, to the crowded factories in China, where workers glue together "Made in Italy" bags by the thousands, Thomas explores the whole of today's high-end shopping experience to answer some pressing questions: What is the new definition of luxury when advertising for this lifestyle is targeted mainly toward the mass market? What are we paying for when quality has givenway to quantity? Can integrity survive in a corporate culture driven to meet regular growth and profit projections? Is luxury still the best that money can buy? Thomas has traveled all over the world to interview corporate heads and factory workers, old-money, old-luxury clients and new luxury-obsessed middle-market consumers, and she paints a surprising picture of today's New Luxury. With "Deluxe," she delivers a fast-paced, uncompromising look at the real world behind the glossy magazines and red carpet couture and asks: How did luxury lose its luster?
Back in the late 1980s, the Prada backpack - made out of black or tobacco-brown parachute fabric trimmed in leather - became the "it" bag for many would-be fashionistas. It was hip, modern, lightweight and at $450 expensive, but not as expensive as the stratospherically priced bags made by HermAs and Chanel. According to the fashion reporter Dana Thomas, that Prada backpack was also "the emblem of the radical change that luxury was undergoing at the time: the shift from small family businesses of beautifully handcrafted goods to global corporations selling to the middle market" - a shift from exclusivity to accessibility, from an emphasis on tradition and quality to an emphasis on growth and branding and profits. With "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster," Ms. Thomas - who has been the cultural and fashion writer for Newsweek in Paris for 12 years - has written a crisp, witty social history that's as entertaining as it is informative. Traveling from French perfume laboratories to Las Vegas shopping malls to assembly-line factories in China, she traces the evolving face of the luxury goods business, from design through marketing to showroom sales. She gives us some sharply observed profiles of figures like Miuccia Prada, who was a Communist with a doctorate in political science when she took over her family's small luxury goods business in 1978, and the business tycoon Bernard Arnault, who relentlessly built LVMH into a luxury monolith with dozens of brands (including Louis Vui