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What Is Luxury? Zoe Gabriel’s ‘Luxury’ Charles & Keith Bag Might Still Be One

The viral TikTok made us question what it is for us.

If you’re one of the many active people on the internet, you have most likely heard about the recent uproar surrounding Singaporean-based Filipino Zoe Gabriel, and her first ‘luxury’ bag from Charles & Keith. The upload of her Tiktok video and the comments that followed sparked the question: Should we consider Charles and Keith a luxury brand?


thank you dad 🥹

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To put it simply, yes we should. 

From their beginnings in 1996, Singaporean fashion house Charles and Keith had already labeled themself to be a brand that sells fashion goods. Since they started, the brand has always focused on creating products that were not only stylish but also high quality and long-lasting. Charles & Keith may still not be luxury, comparing it to the fashion world’s standards, but definitely a brand people aspire and save up for.

With the increase of consumerism in both media and retail, a handful of people have only associated luxury with exorbitant prices, such as those found in Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès. However, we must be reminded that the term ‘expensive’ is a very subjective one. In the humble words of Zoe on a TikTok post as her official response, it is a privilege to believe that Charles & Keith bags aren’t luxury. 

Zoe graciously showed us that the bag was a luxury to her not just because of its brand, but also because it was the fruit of her father’s love and hardwork—a gift. Many positive duets, comments, and stitches sparked as she showed us that the true value of bags or gifts isn’t composed of its price, but of the meaning given to it by both the giver and the receiver.

In fashion, luxury is a category that can de diffused to many categories. Brands are usually distinguished by their price and quality. There is mass market (H&M, Uniqlo, Zara, etc.), which has the lowest price points with fast fashion quality to it. Premium brands bridge mass market and luxury together (Calvin Klein, Michael Kors). And luxury, can either be accessible luxury (Longchamp, Tory Burch), and high-end luxury (Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior). As these brands start to offer range with different price points, the divisive lines separating the categories start to become more blurry.

The brand itself rose above the traditional meaning of luxury by showing grace through their actions towards Zoe and her father. On top of giving a warm invite to them both for a tour and a lunch at the Charles and Keith headquarters in Singapore, they surprised Zoe with a gift of two new bags.

With the latest events, it is good to remember that what’s luxury to us might not be the same luxury to others, and vice versa. We must not forget that fashion is meant to be celebrated and to give us joy, and that Zoe’s motivations were led by excitement and appreciation for the gift given to her by her father. That’s simply it. 

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