Sunday, May 15, 2011
Originally posted on La Vie En Fifi, 4 November 2009
I read an article in the New Zealand Herald last week because the headline caught my eye – ‘luxury’, ‘fashion’ and ‘frugal’ in the same sentence? It was in the business section which I read faithfully (and often first), in my defence. I am happily shallow, but also aware of the world out there.
As I read on, it occurred to me that the ‘news’ is what French, and European women in general have been doing all along.
‘Luxury labels suffer as fashion for frugality thrives.’
‘Women this year opted to ‘shop their closets’ and accessorise to update their wardrobes rather than buy new clothes. When they did buy new clothes, women tended not to snap up fancy pieces that could only be worn on certain occasions, but rather evergreens’. ‘ Frugality is fashionable, even for the wealthiest consumers.’
Interestingly, cosmetic and fragrance luxury brands have been hit too, with consumers trading down to supermarket and chemist names. I have heard the French luxury cosmetic company I used to work for is struggling for sales here in New Zealand. After leaving there, and my generous staff discount, not to mention staff product allocations (free), it was hard to pay retail afterwards, and I have been trialling simple, inexpensive and often local brands with good results.
Something good to come from the hard times we are experiencing currently is the wealth of new books out (which of course I reserve at the library, rather than purchase straight away) on the topic of stylish frugality. It's actually trendy to be frugal nowadays. Five years ago I was definitely out of vogue.
When I looked for these books even a few years ago, the only frugal titles featured nerdy looking families in bad clothing (no offense to the Economides, I love their book America’s Cheapest Family and I am in awe of how they live their life).
Nowadays chic young women write books like The Thrift Book: Live Well and Spend Less by India Knight and The Spend Less Handbook: 365 Tips For A Better Quality Of Life While Actually Spending Less by Rebecca Ash (the first one is better, but get both if they’re at the library) and many, many more as evidenced at Amazon.
Does anyone sense the irony at the rash of books out which want you to purchase them in order to be frugal? I even saw a book at a shop in town which professed to help you stop shopping. But you have to buy the book and then stop shopping apparently.
I also find it very interesting that being frugal almost automatically means you become greener as well. Reusing, recycling, repurposing, using less etc. It all knits together perfectly.
Two other books which I really enjoyed pertaining loosely to this subject are Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre by Dana Thomas (very illuminating, I was glued to it and often would audibly gasp at the audacity of those nasty big luxury brand conglomerates!) and Affluenza by Oliver James (rather dry and wordy but interesting nonetheless).
Image of luxury home in France from homesgofast.com. I decided against purchasing this chateau in the spirit of frugality.