WEEK NINE: Introducing Kiki – Expert Shopper, Shanghai

This week I interviewed a friend, Kiki who likes to refer to herself as an expert in the field of shopping. To understand the extent of this expertise, you must know that Kiki travels the globe on her shopping endeavours. This is due to the extensive research she does prior to embarking on a ‘mission of materialism.’

amy and kiki

It is well-known that Australia enforces drastic tax fees on all goods, even those produced in our own country! These prices can not compare to those in Asia or the USA. Some thing which we spoke about was the fact that both of us had noted that Oroton, an Australian brand though available globally, was more expensive to buy in Australia than many parts of Asia. This made me question whether perhaps this is why Australian culture does not have large focus on luxury items.

For example, Kiki wanted to purchase this Prada Saffiano leather bag. In Australia it was retailing online for $3525.50. This is not the store price, which she informed me was even more than this, as opposed to buying the exact same bag in the US, (instore/online price at Saks Fifth Avenue) for $2950. Now when we consider the exchange rate, this may not seem like much of a saving, though for someone who buys in bulk and this purchase is merely an accessory, these savings can total $100’s, even $1000’s of dollars.

prada bag shopstyle VS. saks ad prada

Australia certainly has a substantial fashion presence, with designers which are recognized globally, such as Ellery, Manning Cartell, Aurelio Costarella, Zimmermann and Josh Goot, though these brands are considered ‘luxury,’ they do not compete with European or American designers such as Chanel and Prada. There are on a different global scale for many reasons. The companies are no where near as extensive as these mentioned European brands, they are not as established and do not receive the same global attention. Where the products may prove to be a high quality standard, they are not using such premium materials, thus they can not charge such disproportionate prices.

There is not a large market for luxury designer labels in Australia. Just to search the availability of the items both online and in-store gives us a rough idea of the buying power in each country. I had a look at Australia, USA and China, to note how many Prada stores are available for consumers. I found that in this vast, enormous country, Australia we have merely four stores; Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Perth. Where USA has 18 stores across the country and China has 16 alone, this does NOT include the mass of stores throughout Japan and South East Asia.

When speaking to Kiki about this, she was not surprised and said she’d noticed that those Australians who did own luxury fashion items, were generally 40years or older. Whereas, where she is from, it is more common to see younger people sporting Chanel and Dior. When asked why she believes they spend so much on these items, Kiki found the question hard to answer. I asked her why she spends so much on these products and she stated that ‘she felt proud to wear her Prada bags.’ These items symbolize status in China and can present opportunities for you which you may not find with a cheap imitation.

I found this very interesting, as I pondered what kind of opportunities she meant. This leads me to my next weeks post!! I will include further information about our interview and I am going to have a look into a bit of Chinese history!

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2 comments

  1. Interesting post. I really like that you chose to interview your friend and get a different cultural perspective on your topic. You focused on this idea of luxury and the limited value Australian’s place on these luxurious items, finding out from your friend that they symbolise status. I would argue that they also symbolise status in Australia, but in terms of an individuals gaining status first through working hard in their lives and making enough money necessary to get these items and show them off when they are older to symbolise status. Perhaps in China, and what your friend means by opportunities are that by owning these items you are more likely to achieve a position of status in your life, rather than the other way round in Australia.

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  2. I recently purchased a Michael kors bag online from an American company after sussing it out in sydney stores and realising it was almost $100 cheaper to buy it overseas (including shipping). I have many friends who have expensive tastes (or just genuinely like spending money on luxury/designer labels) and many who just don’t understand the hype so I know it has a lot to do with the ‘feeling’ the product gives you rather than the product itself.
    In saying that, I feel as though luxury fashion bloggers have a massive influence in this industry and and it would be interesting to see how blogging habits vary (or are similar) internationally given that the access to these bloggers are generally more knowledgable and fashion savvy than every day shoppers.

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