Pharrell Williams Faces Criticism Over $1 Million Louis Vuitton Handbag 

The new Louis Vuitton Millionaire Speedy bag from creative director Pharrell Williams is made from crocodile leather, and has the hefty price-point of $1 million, garnering criticism over the excessive and ‘insensitive’ focus on luxury goods. 

Embed from Getty Images

Louis Vuitton has recently released their Millionaire Speedy bag, the new crocodile-leather accessory that’s appropriately named due to its $1 million price tag. 

Sold on a made-to-order basis, the bag comes in blue, green, red, yellow, and brown, and has the brand’s standard silhouette. Typically, Louis Vuitton bags are made with a coated canvas and fixed with hardware made of gold and added diamonds. The Millionaire Speedy bag is made of crocodile leather.

The bag was created with musician, and Louis Vuitton creative director Pharrell Williams, who joined the team back in February, and was seen sporting the bag at Paris Fashion Week this past summer. The hefty price point has led to a lot of criticism over humanity’s obsession with luxury goods and the privilege one needs to own it. Caryn Franklin spoke with the Guardian regarding this criticism.

“The [Millionaire Speedy bag] made of all the usual status signifiers – exotic leather, crocodile, gold hardware and diamond embellishments – is a brand gimmick and an insensitive declaration of global north privilege. It’s not cool in 2023.”

The bag itself is not going to be in any Louis Vuitton stores, however. Those who want to purchase the bag must be a vetted client of the brand who is personally invited by LV to purchase. 

“In a world full of horrors, a sunshine yellow $1m bag doesn’t shine, it hurts,” says Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Estethica and the fashion activism organization Fashion Revolution.

The senior vice president of PETA US reportedly sent Pharrell a letter inviting him to go on a tour of a crocodile farm to show him exactly how the material is harvested. Use of exotic skins, however, such as crocodile and alligator is not unheard of from luxury fashion labels; one of the most known is the Birkin bag from Hermes. 

Castro continued on to argue that as a society, we need to redefine what luxury truly means in a more accessible context.

Embed from Getty Images

“I believe it’s time to redefine what luxury means for today’s standards and embrace only a process that creates true, good beauty, engaging positively with nature and its people throughout its life.”

Embed from Getty Images

“[We should place] that luxury around a product that is 100% traceable in its material, and transparent when it comes to cost – creating a luxury product which affords luxury to the people who make it. A luxury that costs, but pays back.  What is rarer than a major fashion brand paying its workers a living wage?” Castro stated. 

“Sure, spend all your cash on pricey identity statements. But make ethical and purpose-led purchases,” says Franklin. “[For example there’s a bag from] eco and luxury brand Elvis and Kresse, which has been released in response to the Millionaire Speedy. It also costs a million pounds because it’s made from non-exploitative and recycled materials with the entire amount going to charity. Now that’s a statement.”

As the website states: “If we are going to have a price that is clearly designed to generate headlines then why not generate headlines for the right reasons?”