Monday, February 23, 2009

How much for that purse in the window?

Recently I went on a mission to find birthday party hats to use during an English lesson about party invitations. Not realizing that the pointy paper hats were one American tradition that the Japanese hadn't adopted, I found myself going to one store after another on a fruitless search. That search included a rather long bike ride to the Don Quixote store, which is basically a cross between Odd Lots, Spencer's and a corner grocery — a boxy store full of lots of cheap crap that looks like it belongs in a dorm room. The Donki, as it's affectionately called, has the largest selection of Halloween costumes I've seen here, so I figured if any place had party hats, this'd be it.

I never did find party hats there, though I did make a different discovery. In the back of the second floor, near the black light stuff, feather boas and Zippo lighters, were designer purses behind locked glass cases. The brand names were plastered everywhere on signs in big bubble letters  — Louis Vuitton, Prada, Coach. And perhaps just as prominently displayed as those luxury digs were the price tags.

Let me do the math for you. Using today's conversion rate of $1 = 94 yen, looking from left to right:
  • 89,800 yen / 95,900 yen = $948 / $1,013
  • 142,900 yen = $1,509
  • 245,900 = $2,598
  • 128,000 yen = $1,352
That's right, just these few purses (and there was a big case of them) ranged in price from $948 to $2,598. For a purse that comes from the equivalent of Odd Lots. Yeah.

It's no secret that the Japanese love luxury goods. I've read articles claiming that one in three Japanese women owns a Louis Vuitton purse. Talk about the watering down of a luxury brand — if practically everyone owns an absurdly overpriced piece of designer garbage, are you really so special or stylish anymore for owning one? Especially when they're selling them at Odd Lots? I mean, even if these things are somehow deeply discounted, who drops thousands of bucks on a purse from Odd Lots? Odd Lots, people! I don't get it. If you're going to cheat and buy the purse at Donki, why not just find a knock-off somewhere for $50?

Though, it does appear that these bags may be sitting on the shelf for a while. According to this ABC article, last December the economic downturn (which has smacked Japan twice as hard as the States) forced Louis Vuitton to cancel its plans to build a mega-store in Tokyo. Oh no, God! No extra super mega warehouse of sickeningly extravagant precious turd-colored purses! The humanity!

Hmm! Maybe the recession actually is making the world a better place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an exporter, Japan is hurting...but I think their unemployment number is lower than USA. Plus, they are used to it...for 18 years now.

What, no Filson purses? Barbarians.