“Bottle Water is the most revealing substance for showing us how the global capitalist market works today. It tells us that we’re no longer buying things for their use value. In a sense, we are buying choice. We are buying freedom. We are buying all sorts of insubstantial things,” says Richard Wilke, professor of anthropology at Indiana University.
Indeed. What bottle water are you? Mariah Carey famously requests Evian as her bath water. Evian is also available at London Fashion Week. Jennifer Aniston is the face of the Gatorade pure water. Over here in Hong Kong, Watson should be the choice for healthy and bright children, as seen on their city wide national campaign… What you drink as H2O isn’t a frivolous choice made between bottled and tap. Or that’s what the bottle water multinationals try to tell you.
Today during dinner mother and I discussed the ridiculousness of the price of designer handbags. Validity of this discussion is amplify by the fact that we have both acquired authentic designer bags from trusted source (ie the brands themselves) at rock-bottom, or rather “value prices”.
My mother owns a red quilted chanel in calf leather (sans chains), bought at the grand price of $1,900 (about £150) at a Chanel staff sample sales. The bag has seen 90% knocked of its tag. The bag is perfect, just as it should be on the Chanel boutique shelves. Except: the person who served her didn’t offer a glass of champagne or water, didn’t handle her bag in white servant gloves. The bag is no frills: $1,900 worth of leather, zip, clasp, threads and craftmanship. In my view, a price worth paying.
I owe a rather modern artifice. It possesses the kind of “new silhouette” goggledegoop that I’m a sucker for. After all, how many messnger bags and totes in variations of colours, materials and sizes can the wardrobe accommodate? It is the only piece of Phoebe Philo circa AW10 that I want, and you know the bag I’m talking about.
The shop which sold it was near Gough Street in Central. And rather unglamorously it situates towards the end of a wet market; where butchers sell beef in the glory of their open carcasses, fishmongers gut fish in the full view of padestrians. Nonetheless, the shop is unmistakably interesting.
In walk I, through shelves of pencil cases, purses, totes, messenger bags made out of recycled milk cartons (we don’t use plastic milk bottles here, rather a material like the UHT milk containers), newspaper and such. They are strengthened to weave like a Bottega Veneta bag, and they are in the range between $300 and $600. Owner of the shop Max Wong, also a designer, conceived the idea and decided to make these in his factories to sell too.
Max Wong’s factory also makes manufacture samples for Balenciaga, Alexander Wang and Céline. I don’t know how exactly does the fashion mights choose their factories, but I presume like any businessman would, they test out who’s the best fish on the market?
And from Max’s shop I spotted a squarish shopping bag in its lonesome, sitting on the shelf unloved. Mainly it is its princely $3,500 price tag comepared to the Pug bag (literally a bag shaped in the outlook of a pug) going for $380 that deters customers. But it is trying to grab peoples attention with its novel shape and beautiful design. A love affair is not to happen until now.
I inhaled its aromatic leather in its full glory. I caressed its sheepskin handlebar, its suede exterior, calf skin side finishing, and full sheepskin interior. The bag’s phermone intoxicated me. Houston, we have found heaven.
Back to a Céline boutique, the very same darling in canvas begins at $19,000. Would you say a shopping bag is worth 19,000 packets of pocket tissue? Or about 6000 apples? Or 2 cleaners for a month? Or 4 and a little bit domestic helpers for a month? You’ve got to be shitting me. No matter how much I love Philo’s designs or how successfully Céline has reinvented itself, god no.
Max Wong went on to tell me that it is a sample made for Céline. I didn’t follow up on whether what he said is true. He neednt tell me that. By the look of the bag: immaculate seams, excellent sewing techniques, perfect shape that holds up… It doesn’t need to be a Céline. Its the kind of craftsmanship I’m willing to pay $3,500 for. No more, no less.
Well, my newly acquired love can certainly accommodate a 2-ltr Evian. But at a restaurant I will still order tap water. And at 7-11 I will still buy home brand water on offer. Ask any chemists how different is H2O and H2O, and how easy it is to reincarnate the composition and taste of Evian locally without rocking up tragic “water miles” half way across the globe? Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone