Italic Unbranded Luxury Goods: Quality > Status
Did you happen to take a peek at my instagram last week? If you did, you saw that I spent some time in Las Vegas. More specifically, when I wasn’t at my conference I spent quite a bit of time shopping (as usual).
I’m not a huge fan of Las Vegas in general, but shopping is the one thing that saves me from hating it. There are dozens of luxury boutiques crammed into a 4 mile stretch of road and let me tell you, I never get tired of browsing through them. I don’t usually buy much other than my usual makeup & skincare products though, because something in me just can’t get over that price point hurdle.
Example: lately (and by that I mean for the past year or so) I’ve really been wanting a nice mid-sized handbag. In particular I’ve been lusting for the small Fendi By The Way since I first saw it in a San Francisco Neiman Marcus a few years ago. Last week I tried it on three separate times, at three separate Fendi boutiques. I purchased it zero times.
Part of it is practical – there are so many other things I could do with $1700, like finally put a gas stove in my kitchen. But the other part is I’ve been trying to really nail down why I want it. Is it because I want a high quality bag that won’t fray at the edges and get discolored? That’s a factor, for sure. There’s something about supple leather, immaculate stitching and impeccable construction that’s hard to resist. Or do I want the rush and feeling that I’ve ‘made it’ that comes with buying a designer piece? As much as I’d like to tell myself no, I suspect that’s part of it too.
But spending 4 months’ worth of car payments on a bag? Oof.
Moral Dilemma Solved
And so in comes Italic, which I only learned about recently. These are folks that understand the struggle of wanting quality goods whose prices aren’t comparable to your mortgage payments. They want to bridge the gap by skipping the retailer step, bringing luxury items straight from the producer to the customer. It’s not an unheard-of idea – brands like Nisolo and Poppy Barley have done something similar by establishing their own factories in Peru and Mexico. Italic, on the other hand, is putting a different twist on it. They’re using the same producers who make those luxury goods we’ve been drooling over – without any branding.
I mentioned a while back on IG that I’ve gone back to school for my second degree, this time in integrated strategic communications. That involves some marketing courses, and while I’m obviously no expert, it really opened my eyes to what’s actually involved in getting a product in the customer’s hands. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of the direct-to-consumer brands that’ve popped up the last few years, but it really does cut out a ton of steps and costs. Agents, wholesalers, retailer markups, distribution costs…. you get the picture. So it makes sense.
Right, so back to Italic. They’re still ramping up so you can’t go right out and buy stuff, but it works like this. There’s a membership fee of $120 (though they’re giving a free year of membership for early sign-ups) and you can buy up to two products per month. Why the limit? Just like the eye-wateringly expensive branded goods manufactured in these places, they’re not just churning stuff out. There is a waitlist, but members can send two invites to friends. Some of the things that’ll be available at launch:
- Handbags and small leather goods from the same factories as and Prada, Givenchy and Miu Miu.
- Eyewear from the same factory as EssilorLuxottica.
- Bedding from the same manufacturers as Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons.
The designs won’t be copies of existing styles – aside from being a jerk move, I’m sure that would cause a ton of legal headaches. Instead, Italic members will get unique pieces unavailable anywhere else. Other categories (such as, ahem, skincare and cosmetics) are in the pipeline too.
My opinion on all this? I’m really intrigued, and signed up immediately after I heard about it. I’ve always been a fan of understated branding (logos all over everything just seems a bit showy to me) so the idea of completely unbranded luxury goods is really appealing to me. Of course, whether the products live up to their premier designer counterparts remains to be seen. I’m eagerly awaiting the launch (and my membership confirmation) so I can let you know.
How about you – would you be willing to try unbranded luxury goods?