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Well-off Koreans have failed to beat their addiction to global bling despite the recession, with Louis Vuitton handbags and Tag Heuer watches still high on the list of must-have accessories. According to data from the Korea Customs Service, a total of 33,897 Louis Vuitton handbags were reported to customs by Korean tourists returning from trips abroad from 2012 until July of this year.
One staffer at a luxury brand store said, "It looks like Prada handbags, which are slightly cheaper than Louis Vuitton handbags, are more popular due to the economic slump." Customs also confiscated 1,317 Tag Heuer watches from 2012 until July of this year, topping the list of timepieces.
In recent years, the concept and ethos of the luxury business has shifted from exclusive to accessible, leaving industry insiders questioning the very essence of “true” luxury.
During the last half decade, however, an emerging "luxury for less" or "affordable luxury" industry thrives on emulating what once was considered exclusive and making it accessible to the masses. Owner of high-end brands such as Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent, Kering remained mired in stagnation for all of 2013 with consolidating revenue from continuous operations posting a 0.1% reported change over 2012. Some of the factors that underlie this rather disappointing performance include a challenging European economic climate, shifting consumer behavior in emerging markets, especially China, as well as the country's new anti-corruption campaign that bans lavish gifts.
Based on the report's key findings, 65% of the world's ultra wealthy families are first-generation upstarts while around 80% of them are "self-made," meaning that they may not fit with the aspirational consumer profile many luxury houses target. These people gained upper-class status not by keeping tabs on the latest fashion trends, but rather by setting sights on growing their businesses.
At the same time, an unfolding "democratic fashion" movement tolerated and, in some cases, enhanced by luxury brands themselves is indeed disrupting the luxury industry. It's slowly but surely fueling more price-conscious consumer behavior, notably among Chinese consumers. It all started the moment the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Jimmy Choo begun courting popular, high-street retailers such as H&M. When a high-street retailer with a nightmarish store environment teams up with a high-end, well-regarded designer and promotes the product as an insanely cheap, but still luxury good, what does that say about the luxury industry as a whole? 65% of international high-end retailers analyzed by design consultants Knight Frank and Woods Bagot, including Prada, Hermes, Gucci, and Burberry (LSE:BRBY), failed to reach their target number of store openings in China, the home country of the world's top consumers of luxury goods.

Not to mention Coach (NYSE:COH) is taking China by storm, capitalizing on the current "luxury for less" norm. Like a Coach handbag compared to a Louis Vuitton original, there's a huge difference between a good stock and a stock that can make you rich.
Born and raised in Greece, Fani is currently pursuing a PhD in International Political Economy.
From famous clothing companies to the most fashionable jewelry and shoes brands in the world. The second best things are very, very expensive," the queen of elegance Coco Chanel once stated. For instance, from 2010 to 2012, Louis Vuitton (NASDAQOTH:LVMUY) experienced double-digit organic revenue growth rates, recovering quickly from the 2009 downturn. Kering's largest luxury house, Gucci, recorded the weakest fourth-quarter sales in the last four years while its revenue sunk 2.1% in 2013. Even so, these headwinds could have been counterbalanced by increasing demand coming from the ever-growing population of global Ultra High Net Worth families, the luxury industry's niche clientele. This "democratic fashion" movement, which enables "affordable luxury" brands to take products once reserved for the rich and transform them into lower-priced alternatives, has never been more relevant. It sacrificed service and quality for the altar of profit and shifted from being the essence of an aspirational lifestyle to nothing more than a facade.
On the other hand, lower-priced, fast-fashion retailers like Zara and H&M beat their expansion plans. It's giving Louis Vuitton a run for its money by selling $400 handbags, as Bloomberg reported. Trying to reach the thirsty masses while risking your brand integrity will not get you far.

She keeps a keen eye on politicians' shenanigans and focuses on explaining their impact on the global economy. We will explore the slick, sleek and trendy logos that ensemble these world famous fashion brands.
And 2,117 Prada bags were confiscated over the same period compared to 2,093 Louis Vuitton.
During 2013, though, the luxury behemoth's growth rate saw a moderate, yet worrisome decline to 8%. The "true" luxury industry needs to steer clear of everything "accessible" simply because, by definition, luxury was meant to be exclusive. Besides that, she enjoys digging deeper into unfolding fashion trends and retailers' business strategies, as well as the emerging wearable-tech market.
In the world of "true" luxury, the relentless effort to create something that's in a class by itself was always rewarded with a sky-high price, which only an exclusive group could afford. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.
We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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