The t-shirt is the blank canvas of menswear. They’re versatile, timeless, and generally flattering if you get one that fits. Best of all, it’s not hard to find a reputable brand that sells them by the handful at fair rates. After all, why would you need to spend a hundred-plus on something you will thrash day in day out and grace with pasta sauce?
Alas, the princes of luxury menswear supposedly have the answer.
Enter Givenchy’s newly-released Appliquéd Printed Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt. They’re retailing this bad boy at $1,067 with a straight face – no discounts. And it’s just a t-shirt.
You might want to know what the hell is up with these people. We do too. Here, we’ve taken a look at this Givenchy tee and what sort of witchcraft leads to a brand to ask us to part with a week’s salary, for the privilege of wearing something we’d normally be happy to sleep in after a big night out on the tins.
The Lowdown On $1,000 tees
So you could buy this tee, or treat yourself to a quick holiday. But, while it won’t make you taller or better looking, there’s a (heavily contested and by no means authoritative) method to the madness of luxury retailing.
“By making things more expensive, it’s postulated that snobs are more likely to make a purchase if it lets them signal wealth to others…”
Luxury brands like Givenchy generally use premium fabrics and employ the services of elite craftspeople. This shirt in particular is produced in Portugal, a respected manufacturing centre, from 100% cotton. Appliqué in particular, if done by hand, requires sophisticated work above and beyond what you would see elsewhere. This all costs time and money, especially with EU production costs.
Economists don’t agree on this, but some brands use inflated pricing to attract a particular breed of consumer. By making things more expensive, it’s postulated that snobs are more likely to make a purchase if it lets them signal wealth to others and cement their position in the hierarchy of affluence. Sounds ludicrous, but look up the Veblen goods theory if you have a free weekend to lose yourself in dense economic theory.
You also need to consider that income growth across the globe is concentrated among those who already have it pretty good. The customer bases that prop up luxury retailers like Givenchy have more and more money to spend on items that most of us would never conceive as legitimate purchases. That’s not to say the luxury market thrives on inequality, but it does benefit from wealthy people consolidating their riches.
At the end of the day, it’s all about status, and the sensation of being part of an elite club. It’s why people go nuts over a Supreme metro card, anything Kanye lends his name to, or a triple-patterned Gucci shirt. Status symbols make you pay for the honour of joining the clan. Simple as that.
The Market Trends
Despite economic turmoil and some forecasted trouble with luxury retail, there’s a strong market for expensive-as-shit basics and luxury brands aren’t going anywhere – for now.
“Brands like Givenchy are safe to dictate absurd prices for a little while longer.”
According to a recent study, global luxury retail is estimated to grow by 2-4% in 2017, driven largely by an increasingly hungry and well-heeled Chinese market, both at home and in tourist locations across the EU.
However, the forecasts aren’t too encouraging in traditional hotbeds like the US. Regional assessments are less promising than the big picture. But if Bain’s growth projections are on the money, brands like Givenchy are safe to dictate absurd prices for a little while longer.
Are They Actually Worth It?
Should any of us simple folk part with over a grand – which could pay for a couple new suits, or chip away at a mortgage – for a t-shirt? Probably not.
It doesn’t stop bullets. It won’t get you that executive promotion you think you deserve, or make women fancy you any more than they do already. Sure, it gives the subtle nod to passers-by that you’re a filthy rich big shot, but it’s just a t-shirt.
But there’s still a market for people who don’t see it along those lines. Until that market dries up, the good people at Givenchy won’t lose too much sleep if you go to DJ’s instead.
If, however, you do need a hand sourcing basics that are worth the dollars, we can point you in the right direction if Givenchy can’t win you over.