The luxury market has shaken the confines of the physical, marking a transformative moment in consumer culture where digital and conceptual goods challenge conventional value.
Today, in an era where consumer interaction with commodities is increasingly digital, re-defining ‘luxury’ can be considered crucial for some brands to survive in a world shaped by technology and social media.
From Victorian miniature mesh chatelaine purses to Jacquemus Le Sac Chiquito bags, fashion history tells us that we have been getting closer to total material evaporation for quite some time. However, in June 2023, the goal posts well and truly shifted, changing our definition of the ‘micro’ bag forever.
Selling for $63,000 USD through Pharrell Williams’ latest venture, Joopiter Auctions, MSCHF’s reproduction of the iconic Louis Vuitton OnTheGo tote has been described as ‘narrow enough to pass through the eye of a needle’, measuring up at just 0.03 inches in width. The minute polymer resin masterpiece is decorated with intricate Louis Vuitton monogram detail, however it has no official connection to the brand. However, not everything requires a microscope for consumers to want in. The OnTheGo tote was not the first time that Brooklyn art collective MSCHF provoked and subverted the luxury market, with the collective releasing their own line of ‘Birkinstock’s’ in 2021. These Birkenstock sandals were crafted out of authentic exotic leather Birkins, with a price tag of $34,000 – $76,000, yielding immense social media response.
In 2022, digital artist Mason Rothschild was sued by Hermès for trademark infringement when creating and selling a series of ‘MetaBirkin’ non fungible tokens to the luxury lovers of the Metaverse. This collection came off the back of Rothschild and Eric Martinez’s $23,500 ‘Baby Birkin’ NFT; a digital transparent Birkin illustration featuring a growing foetus inside the body of the bag. Hermès had no connection to the transaction, and took action in attempts to reclaim their signature, drawing further attention to the internet sensation.
We have recently seen high end brands take the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach with designers such as Balenciaga and Gucci trading in digital fashion. As luxury conglomerates begin to adapt to new ways of engaging consumers, the market is swiftly evolving into a landscape that is no longer solely defined by traditional notions of prestige, but limitlessly expanding opportunities for consumer engagement.
Our Luxury Auction takes place on Tuesday 14 November at 6pm in Melbourne. For viewing times and to see the full catalogue please visit our website.
INDIGO KEANE / Luxury Specialist
Banner Image: Microscopic Handbag by MSCHF / Instagram