Posted : 2013-11-13 18:35
Updated : 2013-11-13 18:35

Men desperate for designer bags to please partners

By Chung Hyun-chae

It's no longer just women who go crazy about buying designer or brand-name handbags. It seems that men are joining the craze, not for their own closets but for their romantic partners'.

On July 26 this year, Profs. Yajin Wang and Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota and their team published an interesting report: "Conspicuous Consumption, Relationships, and Rivals: Women's Luxury Products as Signals to Other Women."

According to the report, luxury bags help maintain romantic relationships. The researchers said that some women no longer acquire designer handbags only to improve themselves but to signal to potential women rivals that their partners are devoted to them. In short, pricey accessories serve as a kind of warning to other members of the same sex.

Thus, more men are trying to buy Gucci, Chanel, Fendi and other designer handbags that cost millions of won to show their devotion and affection to their girlfriends or wives.

The problem with this phenomenon arises from the price of the handbags themselves. For men with modest salaries and male students without income, it is nearly impossible to find the money for such luxury items. Some get a second or third job in order to do so.

Some men adopt even more extreme measures, like the 27-year-old Park.

"Some time ago, I sold one of my kidneys to get money to buy a Hermes Kelly bag as a present for my girlfriend for our first anniversary," said Park.

Despite working a couple of part-time jobs and as a private tutor for three months, he still did not have enough money for the Hermes bag. Desperate, he answered a note on a toilet wall of a general hospital that read: "Looking for human organs."

Today, Park realizes that what he did was in vain.

"I broke up with her after that, and I regret doing such a thing," said Park.

Though Korean men are biting off more than they can chew when it comes to pleasing their partners, their reality is becoming even tougher.

Some European luxury goods manufacturers are being criticized for raising product prices despite the implementation of the Korea-EU FTA.

"I cannot see any big changes in the number of customers compared to the past," said an employee at a European luxury goods store.

Despite Korea's sluggish economy, higher-end stores at Lotte Department Store saw a 6.5 percent increase in sales as of Oct. 20, 2013 compared to last year, while those at Hyundai Department Store saw a 9 percent increase in the same period.

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