Last month, I had a small article published in The Hindu Weekend, about the Valentino shoes that I had purchased during my holiday in Spain. This was more personal, but I had a draft that also went deep into the money aspects of it. So I thought I’d expand on it and publish it here! I’ve split it into three parts – the where (the cheapest place to buy luxury goods), the what (deciding what kind of luxury goods to buy) and the how (saving for luxury goods).
Which is the cheapest place to buy Luxury Goods?
The question seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but hey this is what happens when you’re both a fashion victim and an alpam. As for the answer, it is undoubtedly, Europe. For starters, 90% of luxury goods are manufactured in Europe (usually France or Italy) so the item doesn’t travel much and therefore, doesn’t attract as many taxes (like import duty), for example. Additionally, you get the VAT refunded to you.
I think it’s also significant that the prices quoted in Europe are inclusive of VAT, as compared to the US, where the prices on the websites are usually exclusive of tax. So what I like to do is go up to the last stage of checkout (just before payment) to see the extra charges that can come up. The UK also has tax refunds, so that’s a great place to purchase as well.
Some of the Asia Pacific countries like Thailand and Singapore also have VAT refunds but remember that the goods have traveled to get to where they are so they will be more expensive.
Dubai is another place that’s popular for their luxury shopping but nope, take it from someone who’s actually bought stuff there (me) – it’s not cheaper than Europe. Dubai recently introduced Value Added Tax and as a result, stuff is even more expensive, not to mention that they haven’t yet rolled out the refund system for tourists (it’ll likely begin November 2018).
So if you’re planning a holiday to any of these places, plan for your purchase as well and start saving up at the same time!
Doing Your Research
It’s 2018, friends. Please learn to google. If you like an item, google the name and add ‘prices’ and the year to your search. Pretty much every brand has an e-commerce website now, including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, YSL, Prada etc. If you’re unable to view prices, it’s probably because you’re on an ‘international’ site. You can fix this by changing the country settings (usually found in the bottom of the website) to Europe or USA. You can also track prices through websites and forums like Brag My Bag and Purse Forum.
A luxury good is a luxury. It might look nice on your Instagram feed, but it will not feed you, pay your rent and at the end of the day, it’s just a bag or a pair of shoes or whatever. If truly want to master your money, you need perspective and the fact is that when it comes to luxury goods, you’re only paying for the name of the brand. Chanel’s leather isn’t astronomically better than the leather used by mid-range brands, so don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re holding something whose value is justified by its materials, because it’s not. Even the craftsmanship angle is a bit contrived, the fact is that fashion houses charge a massive markup because they’re giving you something that is intangible – status. So what you’re really paying for, is social mobility. Once you’ve realized you’re okay with that, hop on over next week to Part II where I talk about the best kind of luxury goods to buy.