The prices of three iconic Chanel handbags in the fashion house's Singapore boutiques are now almost on a par with those in Europe, but some say that they would still rather get their Chanel fix there.
In a bid to reduce price differentials across countries, which have widened significantly due to the euro's depreciation, and to curb parallel resellers, the French luxury brand will align the prices of its 2.55, 11.12 and Boy Chanel bags worldwide from Wednesday.
Prices in Singapore have already been adjusted, making these bags almost $1,000 cheaper than they were before.
A medium 2.55 and the 11.12 flap bags now cost $6,600 each, down from $7,550. The medium Boy Chanel has been lowered from $6,580 to $5,820.
Over in Europe, the prices of the three bags will go up by 20 per cent.
A medium 2.55 will cost 4,260 euros (S$6,311.30), up from 3,550 euros. They are still about 5 per cent cheaper than in Singapore. Before the price adjustment, prices in Paris were about 40 per cent cheaper.
But bank executive Kay Kew, 26, says a Chanel bag purchased in Paris has more sentimental value for her as it is the birthplace of the brand.
"It's just not quite the same getting it elsewhere," she says.
Ms Jeanne Soon, 26, says buying a Chanel bag in Singapore would be her last resort, primarily because it is still slightly cheaper in Paris.
"If I'm not planning a trip there, or if I can't get someone to buy it, I'd rather get a second-hand bag," says the marketing communications manager, who is looking to buy the 11.12 bag.
Explaining her rationale, she says: "If I decide to sell the bag, I won't lose as much, compared with if I bought one brand new; it's the way the resale market works."
The local Chanel office declines to comment on how sales have fared since the change was implemented two weeks ago, but says the bags are in stock.
Chanel will progressively standardise the prices of all its other products by the end of this year, so that they will never be more than 10 per cent above or below prices in the euro zone.
Mr Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel's president of fashion, told industry publication Women's Wear Daily that this change should help ensure that customers are "seduced by the brand and by the products and not just led by these price differentials".
One sure thing is that nobody in Singapore is complaining about the changes.
"When you get someone to buy a bag for you overseas, you have no choice but to take it even if they've got the wrong thing," says Ms Janice Lee, who got a friend to purchase a medium Boy Chanel for her a few months ago. But due to a miscommunication, her friend bought the bag in a bigger size.
"Hopefully, this would mean a more enjoyable shopping experience in Europe. Some of the boutiques are so packed with tourists that they are like wet markets," adds the 48-year-old senior administrative executive.
Urban asked several other major luxury labels, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada, but most declined to say if they would follow Chanel's lead.
A spokesman for Club 21, which distributes Balenciaga in Singapore, says the company "has not been advised by the principal at this point".
Aside from Chanel, prices of luxury bags are still generally cheaper in Europe.
Shoppers headed there can e-mail or call the stores there for a price check.
Urban found that sales representatives are polite and responsive to price enquiries.
We compare the local prices of six bags from Bottega Veneta, Celine, Dior, Goyard, Loewe and Louis Vuitton to prices in Europe and found that they are between 20 and 30 per cent cheaper in euros (see box above).
Prices in Singapore versus prices in Europe:
1. GOYARD JEANNE (MEDIUM)
$4,040 versus 1,885 euros (S$2,808)
2. BOTTEGA VENETA INTRECCIATO NAPPA LARGE VENETA
$4,220 versus 2,200 euros (S$3,278)
3. LOUIS VUITTON PETIT NOE IN EPI LEATHER
$2,590 versus 1,340 euros (S$1,996)
4. LOEWE AMAZONA 75 IN CALF LEATHER (LARGE)
$3,990 versus 1,900 euros (S$2,830)
5. DIOR LADY DIOR BAG IN LAMBSKIN (MEDIUM)
$5,500 versus 2,900 euros (S$4,319)
6. CELINE DRUM SKIN MINI LUGGAGE
$4,200 versus 2,100 euros (S$3,127)
This article was first published on April 3, 2015.
Get a copy of Urban, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.