06/19/2012 04:00 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

This Is Luxury

I found myself obsessing on luxury products or name brands as a kid... I was always sensitive and often stubborn when it came to brands or quality. That attention to the hand, tailoring or color palette became increasingly particular during my thrift shopping years. I spent hours over decades combing through thrift stores to find the best quality products from the '50s, '60s and '70s (not to show my age but the '80s were too recent.) Some of the best finds were in Florida during the early '90s with cashmere coats, angora sweaters, fur everywhere (less guilt bought second-hand) and early '60s tuxedos... the retiree that died and the kids didn't want his clothes... score! R.I.P. of course.

I am always asked when working with "luxury" products: Why are they so expensive? Honestly, it's all perspective and anyone can choose their own luxury within their budget. There's generally a significant amount of time spent by every person on that team to learn their perspective. Before Margiela for H&M consumes us and we have to view designer shoppers as Marie Antoinettes, there are key things to consider before looking at the price.

Time is luxury. There has been serious time spent by people who appreciate every single detail of the garment. Like a piece of art, they consider every visual detail of the piece; there can be a meeting room of people to discuss a clasp or a button and as arrogant as that sounds, it's in these meetings that people revolutionize the way you dress. I personally would like to talk to the proponents of "button fly" and let them know that sometimes I need a zipper. The way the mass retailers offset this cost is by maximizing their distribution. Luxury labels appeal to a specific lifestyle by bringing the finest resources they have available to make items that the client will cherish and want to share. All the time that is spent by members of design, production and sales come down to the point of sale; the client is not only buying the item but the time that it took to reach this moment.

The function of a garment is something that is considered from the start. The reason we have different collections is to address the environmental or social needs of the client. Subcategories keep cropping up but generally three to six months of an entire company concentrate on the wardrobe needs of a client range in a specific season or travel schedule. That kind of attention deserves a high price and should be seen as an investment more than an extravagance. Why do people buy high performance cars or vintage wine? Apparel is an investment that has a direct affect on you: It's on you. If you can afford to feel as comfortable as possible but still meet the requirements of your occasion, than that is luxury.

Telling the story of the collection takes teams of photographers, stylists, hair/makeup and the models. All within the vision of the creative director, this is massive artistic collaboration and personal expression. It's like a boxing ring and the strongest ideas or expertise make it; that's another investment. The creative director oversees all the team member's contributions and makes all the final decisions. After all this commotion, there is a peace and the product comes to life. Now it is the salesperson left with the job to interpret the collection into the client's life. The salesperson needs to know their client's lifestyle and be able to speak to all the reasons this particular item will enrich their quality of life. The client falls in love with the piece and the salesperson loves selling it to them. So much time and work have been spent to reach this moment. Once everyone is in love, than that is luxury.