The luxury industry and its role in self-actualisation, along with the modern phenomenon of branding and its effects on the consumer, have been widely covered, but what we all really want to know is often ignored: are expensive things worth it?
In short, yes and no. An ambiguous response maybe, but one not entirely my fault. Why? Because the companies got clever - often doing such a faultless job on marketing, aesthetic and concept - that we forget about the price entirely. It used to be that elite members of society provided a crutch for the luxury goods market, but now, with such an expanding middle class, regional consumerism has been dramatically altered.
Let's start with basic materials. At a time when they are considered a wiser investment choice than others, more traditional assets win. In other words, look for quality over quantity. Leather, gold, cashmere, silk - all materials with inherent value, and of course usability. Remember that rarity doesn't always mean quality - in fact, more often than not it only leans toward a gimmicky aesthetic.
So why the continuing thirst? It's hard to ignore the fact that clothing covers 90 per cent of our body, so we had better get it right. Consider the emotional response that shopping generates. If you do choose to invest, make sure it is in something you like. And I mean really like, because you and it will have to spend a fair amount of time together.
My advice: bags, shoes and, maybe surprisingly to some, underwear. The first two speak for themselves (forget the decorative expression of fashion and remember that one great pair of shoes is going to look better and last longer than four pairs of passable), but underwear is largely forgotten in the chain, which is a crying shame as the right underwear can utterly transform your entire shape.
The bottom line in most fashion houses is that time is money. So look for attention to detail - hand finishings, quality lining, complex embroidery and leather soles hardy enough to run through an Irish bog. Certainly, don't be afraid to ask where things have been made or what exactly they are made from. Take your time and do your research.
But let's face it, if it were really about investment we would buy shares, not shoes, so let's stop calling it that - it only makes us sound silly. And remember, there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending crazy money on something we love. Quality, innovation, durability, all matter, of course - but not as much as our emotional attachment, so if nothing else be sure of that. Otherwise, we have lost the battle. Which goes far deeper than fashion.
This week's highs and lows
METAL WORKS This metallic purple studded "Fortune Cookie" bag from Les Deux at Boom & Mellow is on the top of our shopping list.
BEYONCÉ'S BABY BUSINESS First there were doubts about whether her pregnancy was real or not; now she's launching a maternity line as a part of her (foul!) House Of Dereon brand.
BULGARI X ABU DHABI We're looking forward to the jewellery brand's collaboration with Zaha Hadid for this year's Abu Dhabi Art.
FASHION PANIC We've done all the cool costumes we could think of, so how are we going to top our own outfit this Halloween?
TSUMORI CHISATO Our fave Japanese brand launched its online shop. Bring on the kooky prints.