Class Warfare in the Luxury Meltdown

The class-based hostility around our global, economic catastrophe has caught me off guard.

Absolutely, off with Bernard Madoff’s head! If that man doesn’t go to jail until he dies, there is no justice in America. I’ve written extensively and negatively on the testosterone-infused guys of Wall Street and our superficial go-go culture.

However, the class-based blame game is misplaced and counterproductive right now,  distorting the gruesome reality of the global economy.

Reporting on Chanel’s announcement that it’s laying off 200 people — all freelance or temporary employees— in its French office, Celia Walden for the Telegraph UK writes: “Yet to experience sympathy for expensive brands seems an emotion too far. Do our hearts bleed at the thought of Bernard Arnaud of LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury conglomerate, being forced to turn right instead of left when he boards a plane?”

Reality Check

To be factually, correct and a bit thoughtful, I seriously doubt that Bernard Arnaud will be flying economy.

Chanel’s layoff are about 200 REAL people who have lost their jobs, on a day when the NYTimes headlines the news with: “From Australia, to Asia and Europe and the United States on Wednesday, the message in the latest economic reports was clear: manufacturing continued to slump amid the worst slowdown since the Great Depression.”

Orders for new goods in every sector of the economy, from luxury to mass, have contracted for 13 months in a row; poor workers in every country are being send home; and some of us (me for one) are very concerned about what happens in the world, when we all stop buying at the same time … for REAL.

Talented young women like Feanne are wondering about their jobs after graduation. Mothers worry how they will feed their kids. In summation, it’s a mess out there.

Class war is not what we need right now.

The layoffs at Chanel are very concernful, along with the 35% plunge in sales at Neiman Marcus, because it demonstrates that the luxury sector is in as great, or greater, trouble than we thought.

Self-Promotional Journalism

This is not a reverse time for “let them eat cake … they (the rich) deserve to suffer.”

The reality is that even in New York, for every Wall Street guy who gets his severance pay (if lucky) two service-sector workers, translated janitors, coffee shop workers — the little people — lose their jobs, too.

I have only one word for class warfare journalism: it’s pathetic right now, especially when suggesting indirectly that the workers of Chanel, or the sewers in their factories, their fabric suppliers, the entire supply chain aren’t somehow as valuable as the workers at Woolworth, which is also closing its doors in Britain.

A job lost is a frightening experience, no matter who you work for.

It’s bad journalism, trying to incite people this way. Shame on Walden for trying to stir up trouble, when we need to strategize our way out of this mess … together.