What was the last thing you bought before the coronavirus crisis hit us with full force? Whatever it was, one can be certain that pre-COVID days weren't dedicated to masks, hand sanitizers and trying to keep up with the pace of which one was best suited to keep the transmission at bay. But ever since March, conversations have pivoted, a large chunk of it all spent trying to work out whether masks (and other essentials) ought to be seen as fashion accessories, or should they be left to their function—that of protective gear.
While several countries try to manage a dangerous upswing in the anti-mask sentiment, there is another heated debate that surrounds the now-mandatory gear: Should masks be sold at exorbitant prices, labelled as luxury products? If Louis Vuitton's latest offering is anything to go by, the answer veers towards a big fat 'yes'.
Here's delving a bit deeper into the French fashion house's latest product and why it is creating a furore.
Set to release in select stores worldwide at the end of October, Louis Vuitton's latest is a face shield, a part of the personal protective equipment or PPE. Incorporating plastic and its ubiquitous monogram along the lining and on the headband, the 'LV Shield' also features gold studs. (Yes, you read that right). A press release by the brand elaborates on the PVC shield as “an eye-catching headpiece, both stylish and protective” and "a discreet yet sophisticated touch to one’s personal protection".
And while Louis Vuitton hasn't yet weighed in on what the price of this Cruise 2021 offering is going to be, given the details added to the largely plastic face shield, it's very much likely and evident that it will be retailed at a higher-end. Currently, the forecast sitting at $961 and upwards, i.e. approximately INR 70,000, as reported by multiple publications.
And as is expected in the times of social media, reactions were warranted. From thoughts that the French fashion house was capitalising on the ongoing pandemic and promoting classism to thoughts depicted via humour, here is how Twitter reacted to the luxury product.
Never knew Covid was all about Louis Vuitton making some cool cash. Why did we go through all that, even loosing lives!— Wilfred E. Orhue (@Fredolution_Now) September 15, 2020
I can see we are going to wear these forever. These idiots who follow every trend will now think they have to wear it because it is "in".— Ingrid Behnke (@IngridBehnke) September 15, 2020
Must we bring classism to everything?— Femmy Babs (@femmybabs) September 15, 2020
My cat had one.— Terry LEO (Ret) (@editor_wp) September 15, 2020
Maybe gold prevents the virus?— Terry 🎮 (@_terry2020) September 15, 2020
Even if I could afford it I ain’t buying it— crazyworld (@crazywo84380023) September 15, 2020
Back in March when COVID-19 first struck a number of countries, LVMH, the conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton, had worked on manufacturing hand sanitizers and making them available to the health authorities in France, free of charge. Currently, a number of designers and brands are dipping into the territory, most working on their own versions of the protective gear. In the past few months, many have prominently stepped up to donate or sent proceeds to charitable institutes and hospitals fighting against COVID-19—Burberry using its global supply chain to fast track delivery of surgical masks in the UK, Anita Dongre working with village artisans to produce reusable masks while setting up a fund worth INR 1.5 crores for artisan and vendors and more.
On the other hand, several luxury businesses have been deemed as opportunistic and insensitive, amid reports on the shortage of PPE for frontline workers and unavailability of masks for all.
No matter how long it is pursued, the debate around masks and luxury houses delving into it has no crystal clear answers. Though it leaves one to introspect—Will our 'new normal' have ample protective gear for everyone and not just for a select few who can afford it?
Featured Image: Instagram