The tension between social media’s aspirational content and an economic climate, tightening the pockets of consumers around the globe has created a growing playground of masstige fashion brands. Masstige, the place where mass-market meets prestige includes household names such as Kurt Geiger, Michael Kors and House of CB among many others. Whilst it’s true that such brands allow consumers to dip a toe in the world of luxury without having to pay and arm and a leg, Psychologists have found an emotional component to our fondness for masstige fashion.

Image Source: H&M.com

The recently departed fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld is often hailed as a pioneer of masstige fashion. In 2004, Lagerfeld became the first luxury designer to collaborate with the Swedish high street giant H&M. Since then, we’ve seen several luxury houses from Roberto Cavalli (2007) to Moschino (2018) join H&M to produce collections for mass consumption. When we previously discussed the success of H&M’s collaborations we highlighted the importance of the Scarcity Principle. Although Lagerfeld vowed to never work with H&M again due to them not making enough clothes to suit the demand, scarcity is a powerful force, forcing consumers to buy or risk missing out. But what about the masstige brands, producing seasonal collections year round? How do these brand maintain popularity, consistently flood our timelines? Research by Keji Adebeshin (2015) has highlighted four key reasons behind their popularity.

Differentiation – when people buy from masstige brands it “gratifies a desire to be different from others to express personal tastes and to appear hip, stylish and unique”

Belonging – masstige products are used as a tool to form the basis for relationships, to impress others and to belong with others through collective consumption

Self-Care – Purchasing masstige products activates a ‘taking-care-of-me’ dimension where people purchase these products for special occasions or just to treat themselves.

Excitement – People have reported that masstige brands provide a sense of adventure and liberation

Where luxury products represent status and exclusivity, masstige products relies more on tapping into emotions and values shared by people at many income levels and many walks of life (Silverstein and Fiske 2003)

What are some of your favourite Masstige brands? Let us know in the comments.

Header Image Source: Instagram/@HouseofCB

So, it’s Saturday afternoon and you’re out shopping. You’ve finally made it to the queue to pay for the Everest-rivalling mound of clothes that you’re carrying and you feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever because – spring. Then suddenly a woman carrying the electric blue Saint Laurent alligator tote bag rudely cuts in front of you. What do you do? Now imagine the same situation however, this time the inconsiderate line-cutter is carrying a bag from River Island. 
Now you’re probably thinking ‘what on earth does the bag have to do with anything?’. You’re sure you would react in the exact same way in both situations. Well, you’d be wrong.

Research suggests that people are more docile when confronted with luxury items. In one particular study, researchers driving either an expensive luxury car or a more affordable economy car stopped at a green light.

​Drivers behind the economy car immediately began sounding their horns in annoyance with some going as far as rear-ending the poor researcher. However, when drivers found themselves stationed behind the luxury car patience was definitely a virtue. 50% of drivers in this case waited in silence until the car drove on, failing to sound their horn even once. 

So what is the reason behind this compliance?
​The researchers suggest that such symbols of wealth can point towards more access to resources. In our case you may subconsciously believe that the Saint Laurent bag lady may know someone who knows someone who knows someone who could get you banned from the store for life for causing a scene (God no), so you keep quiet. Another possible reason is that luxury items can cause owners to portray an element of superiority which may create a feeling of intimidation in those that they encounter.


Have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you react?

Give us your thoughts and opinions below.