On the rare occasion when you are ready to bring some new items into your life, it is important to do it responsibly. High quality, responsibly manufactured items are often more expensive than what you would find at a bargain store but are not to be confused with luxury items.
Stores like Wal-Mart do everything they can to acquire and sell the cheapest and most irresponsibly manufactured items possible in order to be able to sell items at a low price and still maintain a large profit. The reason you can buy a pack of three t-shirts at these stores for less than five dollars, is because they are manufactured in countries with the lowest labor cost and that have the most lax labor laws. They are made of the cheapest possible materials and are designed to last only a few wash cycles before they begin to fall apart. This planned obsolescence is causing you to return to purchase more items; increasing their profit; proliferating their poor manufacturing morals; increasing their foot traffic through their doors and exposing yourself to their marketing tactics. This in turn, adds to the amount of clothing waste as these items are so poorly made that they do not have a secondhand life. This causes more material to be harvested with all of the equipment required to convert them from nature to material to shirt. Uses an enormous amount of energy and water to complete this conversion, often from developing countries where water and energy are an extremely limited commodity. Leading to increased climate change, and the eventual peril of the planet. All for the sake of saving a few dollars and not being inconvenienced by having to travel to more than one store. But I digress, this is a soapbox for another day.
Luxury items are often expensive due to the brand name attached to the item. They are more of a status symbol than a functional item with a high return on investment. Luxury items sole purpose is to elevate one’s perceived status, regardless of the quality of the item. These items are often tempting due to the marketing tactics of the brands and the draw of celebrity endorsement. Endless barrages of social media ad placement and television commercials promoting these brands in combination with a high price tag transform these items into luxury items. They are designed to separate the low and high income classes via a prominent brand name or symbolized association.
With all of that said, luxury items are often also quality items. Luxury items can be bought, utilized and kept for long periods of time. Most often though, the extra high price tag makes the return on investment hard to achieve.
Quality items are gauged by their return on investment and durability. You are paying for the reliability, responsibility and peace of mind that you receive when you purchase a quality item. Quality items are made of quality materials and are assembled in such a way as to make them useful, reliable and long lasting. The higher price tag that comes with quality items is due to the time put into the manufacturing an item in a responsible matter, with a lot of thought put into the design and the quality assurance that the item is well tested and known to be reliable for an extended period of time.
For example, a well made watch that will last you for innumerable years and keep perfect time is a quality item. When the word Rolex is attached to the item and an additional zero is added to the price tag it becomes a luxury item. In contrast, a cheap, irresponsibly manufactured watch that is designed to be replaced completely if the battery dies, has questionable time reliability and never works the same after it falls off a dresser one time will have one less zero on the price tag and will be on sale.
With this said, luxury items are often but not always high quality items, and cheap items can on occasion be quality items. A Rolex watch has been known to keep exceptional time and last for many years, even being passed down through generations. For the additional cost of the brand name Rolex though, being passed down through generations is what it takes to achieve the return on investment that was put into it.
You could purchase, say for instance, a Citizen brand eco drive watch and receive the same amount of quality and reliability for a fraction of the price. Both are quality, responsibly made items that could be purchased one time and last a lifetime. Weighing the up front cost in this situation is the determining factor.
Fast fashion brands on the other hand do not correlate luxury and quality as well. Brands such as Forever 21, H&M and Nike all sell what would be considered name brand, luxury, status symbol items. They do so though, while manufacturing them in developing third world countries utilizing cheap labor and questionable labor practices and still charge a premium price. They are able to do so and still claim the items are U.S. made because as little as 3 or 4 percent of their products are still made in the U.S., in this instance luxury does not equal quality.
The most reliable vehicles of the past decade…Toyota owns the top 3 spots; 4 Runner; Prius; Camry, in that order. In no way would those three high quality vehicles be considered luxury vehicles. Lexus holds down the number 4 spot, and is the first luxury car to make the list.
Do Your Research
So how do you tell what is what? Simple answer – research, research, research. One luxury that we all have, and we all happily pay for these days is the internet. Researching quality brands and the manufacturing processes of any and all brands of any object is at our fingertips.