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The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Launch of Phoebe Philo: When Open Your Purse Is Not Enough


November 10, 2023/12:00a.m.

The question of whether individual existence is real has been the center of several philosophical debates. To answer this intricate question, Descartes spoke his famous quote: ‘I think, therefore I am.’ The answer is clear—I can doubt everything, but I cannot doubt the fact that I am doubting; therefore, I am real. However, the fashion industry might have proposed a more solid answer through the recent launch of Phoebe Philo. The most anticipated collection of the year has proven that nothing could be more real than the skyrocketing price tags of these garments.
On October 30, Phoebe Philo, the mother of minimalism, made her way back to the spotlight after six years with a debut collection under her eponymous line. The collection itself was highly praised and received great attention not only from professionals but also from consumers and ‘Philo’ fans.

Philo is known for her minimalist approach and her ability to create basic, wearable pieces with exceptional quality. During her era at Celine (back to the days when it was Céline), Philo demonstrated her skill in understanding customers’ preferences by launching several “it” items such as the Luggage Tote and Triomphe Bag, which have become the epitome of success for urban women. She was acclaimed as a “woman who designs for women,” shaping the zeitgeist of how women want to dress. The recent launch of her eponymous line is a continuation of Philo’s aesthetic: wearable and well-constructed garments infused with a touch of bold color and a casual silhouette. Nevertheless, the launch has received mixed reviews from fashion enthusiasts, primarily due to its questionable price tags.

The collection has been criticized for its lack of accessibility, even for luxury consumers. Let’s take a look at Philo’s website: an organza brooch priced at $1100, a leather zip jacket at $6900, and perhaps the most striking item, a basic leather tote bag with a price tag of roughly $9000.

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“I just realized that I don’t need one extra job but perhaps three of them to purchase these items,” said content creator @ideservecouture. The pricing surprised not only ordinary customers but also fashion insiders, who are assumed to be exposed to luxury items as part of their jobs. Vogue contributor, Corte Bonilla said that Philo is “trolling” all of us with her numbers. “$5,000 for the necklace that is plated sterling silver… they’re delusional,” said one top Instagram commenter.

The emergence of Phoebe Philo as a household name was supported by the luxury giant LVMH. While Philo herself unquestionably characterizes her work as ‘luxury,’ the pricing appears to be out of touch. Nevertheless, it is evident that the launch and its five-figure price tags reflect the brand’s positioning. The collection has been described as a seasonless, continuous body of work, and the stock is much lower than anticipated. “She’s trying to build a world-straddling brand; she’s trying to nurture a following,” wrote Venessa Friedman, Fashion Director, and Chief Fashion Critic of The New York Times. “Think of the line as Supreme meets Loro Piana: limited and unpredictable drops — she calls them “edits” — used to create desire and a sense of consumer urgency but applied to luxury pieces (they are awfully expensive) meant to be acquired over time,” Friedman elaborates.

Despite the online rumblings, this strategy has proven its effectiveness: much of the stock sells out within a few hours after the launch. This not-so-surprising result is guaranteed by the Philo cult, a strong community of fans who have followed every step of her career. Philo is exceptionally talented at understanding her very affluent, dedicated consumers: an aspiration to be part of an exclusive circle reflected through a distinctive wardrobe filled with desirable and exclusive pieces. “Rarity is its own kind of chic,” Friedman states.

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About the Contributor
Quoc Huy Ngo, Arts & Leisure Editor
Hi! This academic years Arts & Leisure editor is Quoc Huy Ngo. Writing is one of his passions and he has been writing for more than one year. Besides writing, reading is also one of his biggest enjoyments (especially anything about art and the fashion industry). During his downtime, he loves to clean and decorate his space, spend time with friends, or just chill and enjoy tiny, beautiful things in life. Thank you for all of your support. 

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