Last year I was gifted a handbag that cost $7000 in-store. I have carried it less than 20 times and yet the corners are already wearing, the red coating is fading and the stitching is coming undone. It is from a haute-couture brand that allegedly upholds the highest quality standards, but the wear on this bag after minimal use suggests otherwise. What is more apparent is that the $7000 was less about the craftsmanship within the handbag and more about showing off their famous logo.
A few weeks later I visited my tailor to have a vintage Alexander McQueen dress taken in and he looked at it and commented on its high quality, and how "they don't make them like this anymore." The remark didn't really hit me until later, what was it about the dress that made him remark on the quality?
When I went back a week later to pick up the dress I asked him what made this dress high quality. He then folded back part of the fabric along the hemlines and said, " you see here, in the stitching, there are 25 stitches per inch. Nowadays, even designer items only do 12 stitches per inch."
And there it was, hidden under the hood, so to speak. I asked, does it really save a designer a lot of money to reduce their stitches from 25 to 12 per inch? The answer was a mix of yes and no, but what really matters is that the price has increased for designer items, but hidden underneath they are using less material, using lower quality stitching methods, and taking less time per garment.
I then asked if this reduction in quality is just seen with this brand and he said it is with all brands. For Chanel? Yes. For Hermes? Yes. For Louis Vuitton? Yes. Ok, well what about the jacket I was wearing? Loro Piana, a "smaller" luxury brand but represents itself as the highest quality in cashmere goods. He then pointed at the pocket and said, "see here?" and pointed to crooked stitching that was coming undone.
That damn jacket cost me $3500 and it was no better than anything else. Although he did remark that the zipper and buttons were well-made.
I asked him, are there any brands out there that still make a high quality item, of all the brands in the entire world, there must be one? He thought for a moment and said "Brioni."
The Loss of Quality
The reason why I created OUMERE was because I couldn't find quality skin care. Whether it was luxury skin care, natural skin care, or professional skin care, it was all the same low quality substance in different packaging. I just found that high quality skin care simply didn't exist no matter how hard I tried to find it, so I had to make my own.
It was difficult to believe that high quality skin care didn't exist because everything advertised and told to me said otherwise. Luxury skin care brands charge hundreds (or even thousands) for their products and their advertisements so how could it be that it was no better than the stuff sold at Walmart? But its true, the ingredients come from the same sources, the bottles come from the same factories, and the products are manufactured right next to each other in the same facilities.
And the same is true with designer textiles regardless of the brand or their price tag. They are all made from the same low quality materials in the same factories, and all made as quickly as possible to output the most product.
I believe at one point their items were very high quality, but eventually the brands got too big for their own good and had to trade quality for mass production.
There is a tipping point for quality and once you reach a certain manufacturing threshold it simply is no longer possible to maintain the same quality standards. It takes a long time to make a great handbag or a couture dress. And if you go from making 10 a day to 10,000 then a tradeoff occurs and the quality of the goods is traded for mass production.
The sad part about the loss of quality is that no one seems to care. And if everyone is still willing to buy a $7000 handbag whether it took 100 hours to make or 1, whether it has 1000 stitches or 100, because at the end of the day the logo is the most important part, then designer brands are just going to continue to reduce their quality because they are making that sale regardless.
A necessary change and a new product
I don't want to contribute to low quality production and lost manufacturing values. I would like to see its demise. I am starting a new project with OUMERE that will be expanding into textiles. We are currently working on a handbag that is meant for carrying OUMERE Skin Care. It is handmade here by a single tailor at the OUMERE facility in Orange County from the best materials I could find. More details to come as they develop.