Balmain is like the most notoriously expensive fashion house on the planet. Jackets are $5,000, and dresses go between $12,000 and $22,000. The cheapest thing the in the house? A damn T-shirt priced at $1,650. With holes in it! And if you really want to be fabulous, the sparkly one will run you a very cheap $3,000.
You know me — I’m all for fabulous things, and Balmain is definitely one of my favorite labels. The Balmain girl is strong, edgy, and loves to go out on the town and make a splash when she enters the room. But whoever pays $1,650 or $3,000 for a t-shirt with holes in it needs to be whooped. I know I always say that couture is fabulous because it’s expensive. But this is a T-shirt, and army green is not a very fabulous color.
If you understand the luxury goods sector, you know that the houses rake in most of their cash with small things like perfumes, accessories, belts, purses, and the like. Prada was the first house to develop an “It” bag in the 90s, and the thing sold so well that other labels started making seasonal “It” bags, too. More people have a Prada/Vuitton/Dior/Chanel bag than they do a piece from the real ready to wear collection, and luxury tycoons figured out that this is the easiest way to make money.
When you walk into a luxury boutique, you’ll find that there’s something at nearly every price point. There’s something for the super rich socialite, and there’s something for the average person. At Dior Homme, a t-shirt will run you $200, jeans $900, and jackets $6000. But after seeing those high prices, when you’re smacked by the lust for a Dior Homme piece, a $200 shirt doesn’t seem like so much. And that’s how they get you!
The reality is that this Balmain shirt probably won’t sell, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. The shirt makes news and it gets in the press and you know what they always say: there’s no such thing as bad press. Remember that skull the British artist Damien Hirst created made of diamonds that sold for $100 million dollars? The price tag was the art, just like at Balmain the price tag is the fashion.