I worked with a wedding photographer last year who was wearing the most fantastic suit. Dark blue with a very feint grey windowpane overcheck, it was among the most elegant outfits I’d seen in a while. I enquired after where he’d bought it and with a wry smile he confided that in fact it was one of his father’s Savile Row suits, handed down and altered to fit. Can you imagine doing that with your own child, niece or nephew decades hence with something in your own wardrobe today?
One will often hear people talking about that “investment” coat or bag. That thing which is probably a bit expensive, and may seem indulgent when compared with similar looking items on the high street. By saying it’s an investment, we are perhaps justifying the high cost, perhaps making an excuse not to appear wantonly extravagant. It seems like a justification, but when this new acquisition is tried and tested season after season, looking just as good as the day it was bought or indeed performing the function for which it was intended flawlessly for years, this is exactly what it has become.
“Buy to Last” sounds a little bit like something one thinks about when shopping for mundane essentials like a school overcoat or boring black lace-up shoes. Buy to last really doesn’t sound all that exciting. But Buy to last is making a very big comeback in our age of apparent plenty and is rooted in very sound ecological and economical principles. By investing in something well made, well designed for its purpose and beautiful, one negates the need for future costly repair or replacement. The energy and resources which went in to making something of this nature have been well used and wastefulness minimised. And after the initial outlay, the cost-per-use becomes negligible over decades of enjoyment and usefulness.
Louis Vuitton, the global luxury goods powerhouse, relies on our addiction to the new to keep us returning season after season for the latest beautiful thing. Their products are best in class and admittedly can be eye-wateringly expensive. But a visit to Christies South Kensington in November will bring the opportunity to acquire a Louis Vuitton trunk made in 1915. The estimate, £6-8k, is probably not wide of the cost of this item when it was new (relatively speaking). But it does prompt one to think about an item of luggage which has probably seen a fair bit of the world in its 96 year lifetime. This trunk is the perfect example of something built to last, coming to market with a real value, which will last a further lifetime as an interior accent piece, the basis for a chic coffee table, or indeed as a storage trunk for blankets and linen. I wonder if the original purchaser ever thought that their trunk would end up in an auction room in London to begin a whole new life. Whatever they thought and whether or not they knew it, they certainly did Buy to Last.
Christies Interiors Style & Spirit 22nd November, Lot 501 Est £6 – 7k.