Don't Waste Your Money On These Luxury Brands

From Taylor Swift sporting a $895 Balenciaga hoodie to Kim Kardashian and daughter North West toting Hermès and Louis Vuitton travel bags worth over $45,000, it's commonplace for celebrities to own exuberantly priced items that are certainly nonessential, but represent a level of prestige.

Such brands aren't limited to the elite, with studies showing that a large portion of luxury customers aren't wealthy enough to afford their bank-breaking purchases. Though there's been a 25% increase in luxury-item prices since 2019, per research by EDITED (via Hypebeast) — with consumer credit-card debt totaling a whopping $1.12 trillion to start 2024 — the luxury goods market is anticipated to climb to $369.8 billion by 2030, up by some 31% compared to 2023's $253.7 billion, as reported by Research and Markets.

Ultimately, pricey brands are attractive to lower-income brackets because they symbolize status and can boost one's self-esteem. For example, while a person can easily buy a $20 hoodie from Amazon, a confidence comes with owning the same product as billionaire Swift. David Dubois, a professor of marketing at France-based business school INSEAD, explained to Vox about luxury brands, "They're in the business of selling dreams. You buy a piece of a dream." Additionally, there's also the belief that if one splurges on a luxury item, then high quality is guaranteed.

Yet, not every luxury splurge is worth racking up the credit card bill. (Here, by the way, is what happens to your credit score when you settle your debt.) From low-quality products to simply a lack of exclusivity, some luxury brands are a waste of money.


Over the past century and a half, the France-based Hermès has undergone quite the transformation. What began in 1837 as a humble harness-making workshop is today a major luxury brand featuring the iconic silk scarf and highly coveted Kelly and Birkin bags. The latter is the same bag gifted to Rory Gilmore by Logan Huntzberger in Season 6, Episode 6 of "Gilmore Girls" ("Welcome to the Dollhouse"), much to the excitement of her grandmother Emily Gilmore.

While the silk scarves, which range in price from $260 to $1,000, can be purchased instantaneously at Hermès, the same can't be said for the Kelly or Birkin. Rather, customers must play "The Game." This involves spending at least $10,000 on items they don't necessarily want, all in hopes they'll be offered a bag, which they'll then have to drop another $10,000 or more on.

When a sales clerk finally grants the opportunity to buy a bag, there's no guarantee it's the one they actually want due to limited supply. In fact, in 2024, two individuals filed a complaint in federal court against Hermès, with the lawsuit stating, "...consumers are coerced into purchasing ancillary products from Hermès by virtue of wanting to purchase the Birkin handbags. This is anticompetitive, tying conduct."

Though Hermès' bags are said to be of high quality, buyers must consider if it's worth shelling out thousands just for the chance to snag one that's not even their top pick.


Since its inception in 1978, Versace — founded by Gianni Versace — has been hailed as a luxury brand known for its flashy patterns, bold looks, and Medusa logo. For example, Elizabeth Hurley stole the spotlight in 1994 when she accompanied then-boyfriend Hugh Grant to the premiere of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" sporting a black bodycon Versace dress that featured gold safety pins down the side and a deep, plunging neckline. Decades later, it's referred to as "THAT Dress."

While Versace's daring looks are still worn by a number of stars, including "Jersey Shore" reality-television icon Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, who has rocked the brand's eye-catching black-and-gold button down shirt (which costs $1,875) on numerous occasions, its hefty price tags may no longer be worth it.

Over the years, Versace has taken several actions that, in the public eye, detract from the brand's original air of luxury and exclusivity. One occurred in 2011, when Versace launched an affordable line at H&M. Then, in 2019, it was acquired by Michael Kors Holdings for over $2.1 billion. Over the years, the luxury status of Michael Kors has diminished due to oversaturation in the market and affordable options, with shoppers at stores like Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less able to find a variety of MK clothes, bags, and more at an ultra-discounted rate.


Even during its early boutique days in San Sebastián, Spain, Balenciaga — founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga in 1917 — attracted an elite clientele, including several members of the Spanish royal family. Decades later, the luxury brand has maintained relevancy and intrigue, from partnering with "The Simpsons" for a short film to dressing Kim Kardashian in a head-to-toe black body stocking for the 2021 Met Gala (seen above). Balenciaga also made a comeback from its near-cancellation in 2022, when a holiday ad campaign featured concerning photos of children.

A large portion of Balenciaga's products are considered luxury streetwear, which means there's a plethora of T-shirts and other casual items. Unless someone has tons of expendable funds, the prices are outrageous for what the customer is getting. A basic black shirt with "Balenciaga" written in tiny print will set a buyer back $895, a pair of women's briefs is $395, and the 3XL sneaker, intentionally made to look dirty, is $1,190. And let's not forget the Erewhon Los Angeles tote bag for $425.

While Balenciaga products are said to be of high quality, customers are essentially paying for the label. Shirts, underwear, and tote bags of similar quality can easily be found at your local Target and other affordable retailers.


Since 1993, French designer Christian Louboutin has been synonymous with the red-soled high-heel shoe. While the original prototype was pink, Louboutin was inspired to take a red nail varnish to the sole in an effort to achieve a bolder look. As he told CNN Style, "The color red is a representation of love, passion, and life. It's strong, noticeable, powerful, and known for attracting good fortune."

Handcrafted in Italy and Spain, over 1 million pairs of Louboutins are sold each year. Depending on the style, heel prices range from $795 to $995. But is it worth it? Though the shoes do complete most outfits, from dresses to jeans, wearers shouldn't expect much, if any, comfort. Louboutin told British Vogue, "I don't want to create painful shoes, but it is not my job to create something comfortable. I try to make high heels as comfortable as they can be, but my priority is design, beauty, and sexiness. I'm not against them, but comfort is not my focus."

Additionally, though the iconic red lacquer on the soles is meant to wear out with use, many are finding this to be happening after only one or two outings in the heels. In a review, blogger Coffee. Mom. Repeat recommended they be saved for special occasions only. And while Louboutin does have repair information on its website, the red should last a little longer with that price point.

Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co. boasts humble beginnings that date to 1837, when the store sold $4.98 worth of merchandise during its first day of business in New York. In the years that followed, the company became a force to be reckoned with, serving as the focal point of the 1961 Audrey Hepburn romance "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and attracting high-profile customers ranging from Abraham Lincoln to Beyoncé.

There's a high quality to Tiffany's products, particularly its diamond-ring lineup. The company selects only the best gem-grade diamonds and educates customers on the "4Cs" (color, clarity, cut, and carat weight) so that they can choose the ideal option. All of this results in a big price tag, with engagement rings ranging from $14,000 to nearly $40,000 (speaking of, here's how much of your income you should spend on an engagement ring).

But can you get a similar quality product elsewhere for less money? In addition to selling cheap rotisserie chicken, Costco has affordable diamond rings. In 2005, Good Morning America compared a $16,600 Tiffany ring to a $6,600 Costco ring. An employee of the latter told GMA, "We're not really a jewelry store, so we don't really carry the best of the best. But we try to do top quality." Master gemologist Martin Fuller found that the Costco purchase was, as promised, good quality. Therefore, one doesn't need to empty out their savings for a decent ring, unless they crave a more intimate shopping experience and the Tiffany iconic blue box.