So this is an interesting topic. Of course, I’m not going to name names, but there are several purportedly “elite” designer brands that make leather bags retailing for $1,000, $5,000, even $10,000+. They have to be made of the rarest, finest materials known to man, right? Uhmm, not really.
This is where the cynical former lawyer in me gets to come out and play. You see, designers had trouble for years with other companies knocking off their designs and selling bags for a fraction of the price. Every time a designer would come up with some elaborate design, it would be knocked off, sometimes before it even hit the shelves. That can do a lot of damage to a brand and dilute the perceived value.
You might think that the designer could just sue the knock off company and get them to stop doing it. But it’s not that simple. The intellectual property laws are pretty convoluted in this area of fashion. Essentially, it’s very difficult (nearly impossible) to effectively patent a bag design. There are a few work-arounds that have to do with deigning highly unique functional elements of a bag, but even that is tricky and often not worth the effort.
But, but, but…. there is a loophole that the lawyers found. Company logos are protected by trademark law. So, certain designers started incorporating their logo into the design of the bag. This makes it much more difficult to knock-off, or at least enforceable if the trademark is misused. Pretty genius, right?
Except for one thing. It’s not super easy or practical to incorporate a trademark into full grain leather without it looking ridiculous. But it’s pretty easy to print a logo on canvas and other non-leather materials. So, you will see lots of “elite” designer bags that are made of canvas or other non-leather materials, usually with leather trim.
The end result is the designer has a bag that is more easily protected from knock-off. But a $10,000 bag or even $1,000 bag it is not. Of course, unless the bag is made of gold or an endangered species (please don’t), there is really no bag that is worth $10,000 in my opinion. It’s just a gimmick to price things that high.
Now there can be some nice bags made by “elite” designers. And some of them use fairly decent leather. But they are grossly overpriced and you are really paying for the trademark.
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