The Bizarre Equation of Pricey and Painful

The Bizarre Equation of Pricey and Painful

I have now reached the firm conviction, based on field observation, that some women grade the desirability of a shoe brand based on a weird scale of pain-to-price ratio. I suggest calling this phenomenon the “p2p principle,” as I don’t see why silly human tendencies should be denied scientific naming!

Most people know about a certain French brand of super expensive high-heeled pumps that has women go so far as to line up outside one of its two Parisian stores for the privilege of trying–in a closet-size hardly cozy space—and splurging on a pair of perfectly uncomfortable red-soled stiletto pumps.

No devotee will admit that she suffers hell in those shoes. (Or shall I say “foot corsets”?) Love, for women, means sacrifice, doesn’t it? (And women are prone to slaving themselves to love. But is that love? Another subject.)

These are strange times for the world of luxury brands. They must seduce the rich, but in order to do so they have to become popular among the middle class! And to that end, luxury houses must court the rich and famous, and communicate around VIP events in popular media to earn status among the poor.


Luxury houses invite the privileged few to fabulous events and gifts, all expenses paid for… by the poor – the very ones who save on essentials to buy a monogrammed bag, which, as it happens, is the cheapest item manufactured by most luxury brands but with the highest markup!

Still a necessary and strategic target, the very rich are growing in numbers and they desire status as well as exclusive wearables. Highly sought-after brands, shoes and bags in particular, attract the not so rich crowd, ready to sacrifice their food budget for the next six months on a pair of famous pumps or a It-bag. For that reason, a bag’s or shoe’s high price is not enough to ensure availability, and manufacturing more shoes is not acceptable for luxury brands. Brands are left with only one option: that is limiting access based on size (for clothing) and comfort or wearability (for shoes).

For some very rich women, money alone should not be enough to buy everything (and brands have well understood this). And so for them, there is a deceitful perceived virtue and a false sense of courage in starving oneself to fit in a size 0 dress or proudly both standing tall and enduring the pain from stuffing one’s feet in a pair of 4″ stilettos, which derive from the fact that not everyone is able to do that.

So there you go with the new elitism, an improbable mix of virtue and vanity!


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