boycotting louis vuitton for good

By • May 3rd, 2008 • Category: The Bitch

louis vuitton at champ elysee

I recall that one time when I was in Louis Vuitton’s famous establishment located at Champs Elysées, Paris. I was strolling down the streets, soaking up the Parisian air when a couple of Chinese Nationals approached me. Do you speak Mandarin?, one of the two faces asked. Yes, I do, why? I replied with a cigarette lingering on the side of my cracked lips.

We’ll like to buy this bag from LV…

To my amusement, a LV catalogue was fished out into our conversation.

Can you help us get the bag? Here’s the cash.

To my shock, one thousand Euros were placed in my cigarette-free palm.

Why can’t you get it yourself?

They wouldn’t let us in.

I suppose any organisation can refuse entry to their premises, after all, they’re the ones paying rent. But I’d like to understand what the basis for discrimination is. And like how we boldly state “NO ANIMALS ALLOWED” at the store front, I think it is only fair that organisations to state their specific customer preference and save others the embarrassment of being rejected at the store entrance.

I haven’t got a clue why these Chinese Nationals were denied entry. Perhaps it was because they spoke Mandarin, and not English. Perhaps their appearances were telling; fake leather pouches with no other designer brand in sight. Or perhaps they should’ve uttered moshi moshi to the store manager.

I got their desired Louis Vuitton bag for them, threw my prima donna attitude on the entourage of sales people serving me at Louis Vuitton (I have powerful friends in Tiffany and Rolex with me at that point), and left the store utterly disgusted by the superficiality of this god damn society.

I have not bought a single piece of Louis Vuitton ever since, but it wasn’t quite a boycott then. I couldn’t be arsed to be affected by how superficial the society is. After all, I’m in Advertising for crying out loud. It’s my job to make you want things you don’t need. In fact, such is my detachment from the evilness of consumerism that I even thought the most recent Louis Vuitton ad campaign, shot by Annie Leibovitz, was absolutely beautiful.

And then this hits me.

simple living by nadia plesner

Louis Vuitton sues Danish artist, Nadia Plesner for trademark infringement on her Simple Living T-shirt. where 100% of the profits from sales are donated to Divest for Darfur. Here’s the laughable quote from Louis Vuitton:

Although we applaud your efforts to raise awareness and funds to help Darfur, a most worthy cause, we cannot help noticing that the design of the Simple Living Products includes the reproduction of a bag infringing on Louis Vuitton’s Intellectual Property Rights, in particular the Louis Vuitton Monogram Multicolore Trademark to which it is confusingly similar. We are surprised of such a promotion of a counterfeit bag.

We are surprised of such a promotion of a counterfeit bag. Right. Words cannot explain the utter disgust intoxicating my soul. It’s extremely disappointing to see a brand, once known purely for its heritage, design and quality, be overshadowed by its own arrogance. If you ask me, I’ll be embarrassed to say the least, to be associated with such a brand. No, I refuse to be caught up with such superficiality. I may be materialistic, but I like to be reminded that I am valued by my colleagues, family and friends, by my character and not the fucking Louis Vuitton bag I carry. I’m not sure if I can say for half the rude Louis Vuitton customers who aren’t even civil enough to say thank you to the waiter at the restaurant.

There you go, no more Louis Vuitton for the rest of my life.

And besides, there is always Hermès.


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27 Responses »

  1. If I’m not wrong, there’s a limit on the number of pieces you can buy (something about re-selling in other countries at higher prices).. and I’ve heard of many other similar stories (I too was approached along champs elysées), in a way i don’t really blame LV for having to adopt such measures.

    the simple living/darfur matter is another one altogether, of course.

  2. well on the chinese not being able to buy from paris LV… its really the prc at work again and not LV snobbery.. (only in this instance. hah)

    basically these ppl buy the bags to sell it in other countries coz its much cheaper to buy it from paris. however, LV has a limit on the number of bags one can buy to prevent reselling. once they hit the limit.. business can’t go on anymore, so they get unsuspecting tourist to buy for them.

    well you were lucky you didnt get caught but apparently you could have been fined 1000 euros by the police for facilitating that transaction!

  3. w. and vivian

    Here’s where I don’t get it. Limit a person to the number of pieces per product variant, yes, why not… but how does that constitute to the denial of entry on anyone at all? I mean, a Chinese National could enter, and purchase only 1 unit per product variant, right? Why do we need to deny anyone entry?

    Let’s put it into perspective. Say we have a handful of locals who commit illegal resale of luxury goods. How would you feel if it was you being denied entry at any luxury brand boutique because of such. Do you not think it’s a little unfair for such generalisation of an entire nation?

    And as for being fined… I don’t see how that’s valid. There is a need for criminal intent, and there was none on my end. Ignorance can be bliss, eh?

  4. I was wondering if you dropped me from your Twitter before you protected your Tweets. If you’d be interested to let me follow you, please add PoonPiPi. thanks. :)

  5. Dear Patlaw

    this has been a long and common problem.
    they are banned not because they are PRC, but because its the same old people going there to buy bags, and the staff recognise them.

    its quite common, just ask most of the local theres. its the same face again and again, asking innocent and quick-to-criticise people like you to help them buy so they can procure a large amount of bags every day for resale.

  6. Hi local chinese,

    Thanks for the information. How many ignorant tourists like me can you con before you procure your supposedly large amount of bags for resale and break even with your accommodation and travel expenses though?

    And most luxury brands’ prices are controlled, aren’t they? If I recall correctly, the price difference wasn’t much. 25% tops. Somehow, as much as I’d love to believe your story, no offence, but it doesn’t make any business sense.

  7. I look down on people who buy LV bags or any branded shit anyway. Whats the point of paying so much money for some brand? Do some good with the money instead.

  8. I have heard, they refuse entry to PRC and Koreans, cos they are famous at counterfeiting.
    They buy one back, and make many fake products by reverse engineering.

    Well, I mean that doesn’t really stop the real counterfeiting organizations from getting their hands on one. They can buy one anywhere and pay a high price, but earn back by the sheer qty of fakes they produce.

  9. Hi there! Strangely, this topic was brought up between me and my friend who just returned from her Europe trip yesterday, and it happened to her too(I was joking I should go there just to shop and get paid to buy a bag for someone else). My friend, is a chinese female, but she was let in, without her passport checked. (I mean, if they are against PRCs, they wouldn’t just allow anyone looking remotely Chinese in… or so I assume?)

    And my friend was telling me how they are willing to even pay tourists to just go into the shops to get the bags for them! And every single day, it would almost be the same people who will be there, and that’s why they are banned. Price difference is indeed 25% but that 25% is couple of hundred dollars, and if you are selling 10 of them, it would be what I earn in a month.

    Apparently, my friend also echoed what CalamariForThought brought up, that the counterfeiting problem is one of the reasons why.

    Sidetrack a little, PRCs have lotsa pride. To be treated this way, I guess they would just walk away and not return, instead of letting a snotty shop stamping their esteem.

  10. Calamari For Thought, I heard of that theory too. Not sure how accurate it is, but if you think about it, the brand is at a stage where if you’re seen carrying one, you’d be asked “real or fake” instead of “how much?”. I don’t see that happening to a Hermes.

  11. Scarlett Ting, the estimate profit to be earned still doesn’t appear to warrant such attention to me though. Or perhaps I place too much emphasis on opportunity costs.

  12. I would prefer Loewe or something. Every mother’s daughter has an LV or a Gucci nowadays. Where’s the individuality?

  13. Maybe if it would have been a diamond studded t-shirt and not a simple one with a black boy drawing (plus the charity background of the story), they would have embraced the idea like a charm! Marc himself would have signed the t-shirts! Disgusting! Even more when finding out they don’t allow certain people in their store. What undercover racism justifies this?

  14. Pat,

    I would have to call you out on this, and agree with several of the other readers above.

    1) There are no practical ways for the LV staff to systematically pick out PRCs vs. other Asians except for checking passports. And if they do indeed do this, I am sure it would have made headline news. LV would have heard of what Hermes did to Oprah last year (or 2 years ago?).

    2) I’ll put it to you that the PRCs who approached you were indeed profiteers hoping to beat the bag-limit-per-customer quota.
    • The fake pouches on them is a flashing red warning sign. They are not people who truly appreciate genuine designer bags. The LV you bought for them is meant to be resold.
    • Yes, your theory about opp. cost is not strong. Their fare and accomodation might be comped by a company, or government. Lots of civil servants, normal employees and maids get sent overseas with full board paid for.
    • If aunties fight tooth and nail at sales, or devise all sorts of ingenious shenanigans to save money or beat the system, I have full faith that even if it was a 15% profit instead of 25%, they will go for it. It’s not hard to keep asking 10 tourists to buy 10 bags.

    I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to the PRCs, but in this case the odds make it very difficult to do so. In my mind, LV is overpriced crap, but not discriminatory of their customers.

  15. And yes, your genuine desire to help and compassion has been taken advantage of.

  16. aw,

    Thank you for your constructive feedback. It’s always refreshing to see an individual with such strong conviction.

    Theories, without substantiation, will always be weak. As you would deem my personal opinion a theory falling short of being strong, I dare say unless you have any substantiation, your above mention claims aren’t any better.

    Yes, we can argue on the basis on logic, but there are too many possibilities of which should not be ruled out unless actual data and evidence are available to prove otherwise.

    I do appreciate your feedback, and I’m curious to know if there are available data (case studies, news articles, etc) which has driven you to feel so strongly about illegal resale PRCs.

    I look forward to your favourable response.


  17. aw,

    I’ll put it to you, as a phrase, is very telling.


  18. no point arguing anymore since u live in a black and white world.

    dude, wake up and be realistic. they dont even need to be tourists. there are local chinese in the city staying there and buying bags every day just to supply the syndicates.

    a $100 profit may meant nothing to u (I’m an economist but to hear u use “opportunity costs” smells of elitism) but it meant a few weeks of income for some pple.

  19. Aiyo, just wake up la… People have cited the reasons why the shop is refusing some kind of people from entering, and you must be really stupid not to have any sense knock into your head. You think you did a noble cause, but little did you know you had been taken as a fool…some people just can’t take the truth too well…

  20. local chinese & Pooh,

    It is my preference to keep an open mind unless otherwise proven with substantial evidence, rather than hearsay. I hear you, but I don’t reckon I need to agree or disagree with you.

    Yes, perhaps a $100 profit vs a trip potentially amounting to 30 times more make no economic sense to me, but I assure you that my view stems not from elitism (haha) but from the fact that I do not have substantial knowledge to make a claimable judgement – and hence you find none.

    Aside to Pooh, I don’t think I ever said I think I did a noble cause at all. What I’ve done so far in my article, if you do bother to read in detail, is to recall my experience. There is a difference between refusing to make a judgement due to the lack of actual evidence, and being in denial of the truth. Not sure about you, but someone making a claim does not equate to the truth for me. Nice nickname, by the way.

  21. i was in paris in 2000 and this was the same thing that happened to me, some guy passed me cash to buy something (as in ANYTHING) from LV.

  22. Very interesting comments here… I was about to purchase an LV but I guess, nah….I totally agree with Annoyingbarfly about every mother’s daughter has an LV. Also, there seemed to be no difference between a genuine and a fake one…

  23. (Antounians v. Louis Vuitton et al, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC396340).
    A brother and sister who operated a retail store on the Santee Alley bargain strip in the Fashion District of Downtown say they were falsely accused of dealing in counterfeit merchandise and forced out of business by “malicious prosecution” pressed by representative of the Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior fashion labels.

    George and Marijeanne Antounian recently filed a lawsuit against the two Paris, France-based luxury brand giants and their attorneys. The Antounians claim that a prior suit that the companies filed against them was itself unlawful.

    A federal court eventally dismissed the lawsuit against the Antounians and awarded them approximately $70,000 in lawyer’s fees. That covered about half of what they spent on legal representation in fighting the case, according to a lawyer representing them in their suit against the luxury brands.

    The Antounians are seeking unspecified damages from the companies in a malicious prosecution suit alleging that representatives of Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, and their respective lawyers, knew that allegations of copyright and trademark infringement against them were not true but nevertheless continued with the litigation.

    The cost of the defending against the charges eventually forced the Antounian’s to close their Bijou Palace shop on the 1100 block of Santee Alley, according to the couple, who claim they were also forced to liquidate their inventory, a process that typically involves selling off merchandise at very low prices.

    The Antounian’s malicious prosecution lawsuit claims that representatives of the two giant luxury labels hired a private investigation company called Investigative Consultants in 2005 to determine whether stores on Santee Alley were selling counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior wallets, purses, and other goods. An investigation of nearly two years led to the firm to wrongfully conclude that the Antounians had sold fake Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior products, according to the lawsuit. The Antounians claim that a video used in the investigation showed such counterfeit transactions occurring at adjacent stores and on the pathway of Santee Alley itself, but not at Bijou Palace.

    “The Antounians’ store sold only costume jewelry and was not in the business of selling purses and wallets,” said Sean Macias, managing partner of Macias Counsel, Inc. in Glendale, and the lead attorney representing the Antounians.

    William Salle, co-counsel for the Antounians, said that a member of the investigation team, Arianna Ortiz, admitted she provided false testimony in identifying Bijou Palace as one of the stores selling knockoff products.

    “Ortiz alerted Kris Buckner, president of Investigative Consultants, and lead counsel Janine Garguilo for Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, of the errors in the investigation reports months before trial, but legal action still proceeded against the Antounians,” according to Salle.

    The Antouians lawsuit also alleges that during a trial on accusations against them, in July 2007, Buckner testified that he never saw handbags, wallets, or sunglasses—or any Louis Vuitton or Christian Dior items—for sale at Bijou Palace.

    “These were the same items that the Antounians and Bijou Palace were to have allegedly sold,” said Salle.

    Macias said that efforts to combat counterfeiting of merchandise are understandable, but contended that his clients were wrongly caught up in the efforts.

    “Maybe they wanted to send a message to would-be counterfeiters that they mean business,” Macias said. “Instead, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior succeeded only in destroying an innocent small business.”

    Representatives of Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior could not be reached for comment, as of presstime

  24. “I got their desired Louis Vuitton bag for them, threw my prima donna attitude on the entourage of sales people serving me at Louis Vuitton (I have powerful friends in Tiffany and Rolex with me at that point), and left the store utterly disgusted by the superficiality of this god damn society.” Pat, admit it…you are just a Disgustingly Foolish Superficial Snob.

  25. Harlow Regina,

    Superficial? Hell yes. While I can be extremely good friends with fat people, and I love them for their intelligence, personality and charm, I can’t see myself fucking them. Not that I didn’t try… I just wasn’t turned on.

    Snob? Why yes, and thank you, by the way, for that compliment. I’ll be a snob to all snobs and I won’t be shy about it.

    Disgustingly foolish? Hmm. I would love to hear your definition of this.

  26. Oooo! This is a point mentioned. I like when everything in place while it is understandable to mere mortals.

  27. “And besides, there is always Hermès.”

    I have been to the Hermès shop down here in Melbourne twice. Not to shop, once to look for a summer job and once to accompany a friend looking for a gift for her brother. Hermès sales assistance has shown me not only respect but kindness. They knew it is expensive but they nevertheless asked us for our budget to see if they could help in anyway. Louis Vuitton and Gucci were disgusted by me and wants me to get out once they know I am not a genuine customer.

Say something.