There have been many efforts to make luxury more accessible to the general public. Brands that the wealthy do not even consider when thinking of "fashion" or "style" often label themselves as luxury brands. I don't know about you, but I don't consider mid-market labels luxury brands. The definition of a luxury good is something excessively expensive, that has a cheaper counterpart, is coveted for pleasure, that is of higher quality, and which is hard to obtain. Thus while I think that brands like Coach and Kate Spade (Forbes reference) are overpriced, and most likely meet all other requirements, they are not hard to obtain.
But this leads to the question of, is anything that can be purchased with money hard to obtain? Perhaps Hermes and limited time goods are the epitome of true luxury, for can you not buy an LV bag as long as you have the funds for it? You don't even need the funds in today's society, not when you have a credit card. I heard there was a woman who conned people into giving her tens of thousands of dollars for a business venture, but ended up spending it all on luxury goods (i.e. clothes, jewelry, bags, shoes). So if you're whole paycheck is a Coach purse then yes, it's a luxury good for you, but what if your whole paycheck were more like a YSL purse? Does Coach cease to be a luxury good for you?
I think yes, I think the definition of luxury is relative to your financial situation. The problem with today's society is that most of us don't realize this. Why do I own Louis Vuitton when I don't have the trust fund nor the paycheck to buy another one tomorrow? Why do I own a Gucci bag when I cannot afford to buy another one at a drop of a dime? Why do I even desire luxury that's not in my range?
...What levels of luxury are there?
This is a difficult topic because it touches on one's personal finances, the core of where you come from and where you are right now. Do you earn an LV bag every month now? Do you think it's too much of a luxury and settle for Coach? Or are you earning a Coach and settling for Guess? Are you ever going to get a Hermes salary?
Luxury goods have been studied to be related to how we want to raise our status in society. I do believe in this, as I do think people judge you by the quality of what you wear, the cut, and how it suits you. I don't think they judge you by the pattern on your bag, nor do they care that you spent hundreds of dollars on a pair of Coach sneakers. I believe there's a fundamental difference between spending money on high quality goods as a way of selling yourself, whether to find a mate, to impress at work, or to gain better social standing, than buy an LV purse to match with your Abercrombie and Fitch shorts & tank top.
I know many of you bloggers disagree with me--I've read plenty of posts on how buying a luxury product will make you feel good because everyone wants what you have and as a result you feel like a million bucks. But do you know how I see it? Everyone is not looking at you, they're looking at your luxury purse. You're like the runway model wearing designer clothes; few people even see you unless you happen to be more gorgeous than the piece you're flaunting.
You know what I'd rather you spend your money on? Making YOU look GOOD. Who cares if your purse is not great as long as what you wear makes YOU look like a million bucks. What do you think now?