Cheap Luxury

I’m not a person for luxury brands=I’d rather save my money for atrip compared to spending thousands of Renminbi on a jacket- but I can of course see the appeal in them. After all, how are you supposed to let other people know that you’re worth more than them if you’re not wearing a Cartier watch as you zip about in your Maserati.  The thing I’ve been noticing here in Chengdu though is that my first impressions of people with ‘nice things’ is changing.

There’s a pretty simple reason for that, and that’s the tuhao 土豪. Nouveau riche-newly rich-in China has taken on a slightly different meaning. See that 25 year old guy driving at 100 km/h along a busy road in a brand new Lamborghini? Tuhao土豪.  See that guy splashing cash about dressed like a taxi driver? Tuhao土豪. The guy on his brand new iPhone 6 chain-smoking, spitting and yelling indecipherable peasant-speak? Tuhao土豪.

Now, it’s all well and good fro people to make money- that’s what ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ is all about – but how hard is it to have just a little bit of class?  It’s been getting to me recently, especially when I saw a few cars the other week:a Bentley painted bright pink and a Rolls Royce that had a terribly shit, over the top paint job.  It’s not just cars, either. Walking past the brand new Armani shop in Chengdu, it’s easy to see how the flashy (tacky) preferences of the tuhao土豪 have managed to influence the way that foreign luxury brands operate in China.

Luxury goods just don’t seem particularly luxurious anymore.  International luxury brands may be making truckloads of cash out of the tuhao土豪, but at what cost?  In my eyes, they’re sacrificing everything that they used to represent just to make a quick buck, and forever damaging their reputations in the process (at least in the eyes of foreigners in China…or at least me)


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