The lure of the limited edition, the discontinued and the rare

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Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you?

Scenario 1

  • You find a pair of jeans that tick all the boxes – they fit like a dream, wash perfectly, are the perfect color and make you look like a supermodel. You wear them so much they are starting to show their age so you go back only to be told ‘sorry that model has been discontinued’. You spend years looking for another pair of jeans to replace them – nothing else is quite right. But you spend a lot of money trying…

Scenario 2

  • You are on a diet. Marshmallows have never appealed to you. But now, because you are not allowed to eat them, all you can think of is marshmallows. Finally you break down and eat MANY marshmallows.

Scenario 3

  • You are buying a lipstick when you notice that it has ‘Limited Edition’ on it. You realise that there are only a few of them and you suddenly want to stockpile them (even if you know that the ‘limited run’ consists of thousands of items). I know that if I love the colour and only buy one, I will end up in scenario 1 – buying endless others in the hope of finding another Holy Grail colour.

Scenario 4

  • You have noticed a Filofax on the shelves and it has not really appealed to you enough to buy it, though it is pretty enough that you noticed it. One day you notice it is no longer there. You ask and are told it has been discontinued. While you are there someone comes up and asks about the same item, saying ‘I have been looking for it everywhere’. Suddenly you want it. You start scouring eBay and sale sites and are prepared to pay anything for it.

Scenario 5

  • While buying your normal product at the supermarket, you notice that the item beside it is sold out. Idly you look at the shelf marker to see what it was and reason ‘if it is sold out, it must be good’. You realise that there may be production or delivery problems causing delays in delivery but you still decide you want to try it.
Rose Classic Filofax - never put into production
Rose Classic Filofax – never put into production

So now my question is – do any of you recognise the above situations? Has being in one or more of them caused you to buy, purchase impulsively or stockpile?

Even though some of these occurrences are natural, many of them are used by companies to create or increase demand.

I myself am a stockpiler. Having been caught out by number 1 and number 3 many times, now I buy multiples. Find something I like? I buy 2 or 3. I usually buy several different colours but sometimes I buy 2 or 3 in the colour I like. Because I know the chances of finding it again after its short run are minimal. That is the nature of production today.

Some of the things I stockpile I have never used – some of my duplicate Filofaxes for example. Others I have used to death. About 9 years ago I bought 10 pairs of the most perfect black denim slim straight-legged jeans from H&M. The perfect denim, the perfect length and the perfect price – £19.99 each. They are still going strong. I can wear them for both formal and casual, they are comfortable and really tough. Because I have so many and rotate them, they have hardly faded at all. If I had waited a week they would all have been gone and I would never have found anything like them again – anyone who knows H&M knows what I mean!

Gillio Aqua Scorpion - only four were made
Gillio Aqua Skorpion – only four were made

So, why the limited edition?

If you take the Gillio Aqua Skorpion above, produced in a run of only 4, the reasons could be several:

  • limited supply of materials (it could have been off-cuts of leather used in other products, it could have been produced in only small quantities)
  • cost of production (dying and processing could have been too costly to do on a larger scale – as happened with the Rose Classic Filofax above)
  • exclusivity (the idea of owning a limited edition item is very attractive)
  • equipment not available to product item long term or on a large scale.

And why discontinue?

Apart from the fact that the production chain in most instances is not set up to produce the same item ad infinitum, fashion cycles are becoming shorter and shorter. We have gone from two seasons a year to five. Some shops even get new stock in daily.

So colours come and go. In most ranges there is a basic selection available year round – black, brown and maybe red. The other colors are seasonal – available for six months to a year. And then the next cycle begins. This applies from everything from Balenciaga City bags to Filofax Maldens. Items and colours from previous seasons become more attractive as they are discontinued – but only among the small group of collectors and fans. The general public don’t notice. And for Balenciaga and Filofax, limited supply increases demand for future versions and sales go up because people will have learned that if they like something they should buy it (and often in mulitples) before it is discontinued.

Not to mention that trying to find a replacement for the discontinued item causes you to spend money in your search. Many ‘not quite right’ items that you buy in your search to replace the perfect one, adds up to quite a bit of money.

The good news is that you can almost always find something IF you are patient (which people don’t seem to be these days in these times of instant gratification, myself included) and scour Etsy, eBay and other sites. Wanting it NOW is harder to accomplish.

So for everyone who is sad because they have missed out on a limited edition or discontinued ‘perfect’ purchase – take heart. There is almost certainly another limited edition and another ‘perfect’ purchase just over the horizon.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

14 thoughts

  1. I have a Journey Filofax which i have used everyday for nearly 3 years now. I am terrified or losing it, breaking it or just not having one at all. I am seriously considering buying another to keep in case of emergencies and i literally don’t think i can have another filofax after this one, i love it that much!
    They are so rare and sought after though that i doubt i will ever find one :'(

    1. Everything pops up in the end (I am living proof of that) so I would set saved searches on eBay so you are notified every time one pops up, put ISO posts on Philofaxy Adspot and in the sales groups, check them regularly and let people know what you are looking for. You will find one I promise. If I ever see one come up I will contact you!

      1. Thankyou! I shall do those things asap
        My husband thinks i am mad but i just adore it so much. Other filofaxes do not compare anymore!

  2. I am guilty of all 5! I just ordered a bond organizer from Smythson in midnight blue (enabled by Janet and the sales). I just couldn’t stop thinking about it! To think that I didn’t know about Filofax, etc. until a couple of months ago!

  3. I finally found and bought the one I have been looking for forever-the personal Baroque in Teal. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t want to touch it because it is brand new. Now I keep looking for another personal Baroque in Teal so that I can have one unused and new and use the other. Oh boy!

  4. Totally suffering from this right now. I was going to use my Christmas money to buy a Filofax Original in orange but it looks like they’re being discontinued. I only use prepaid cards because I’m just a student with no job and $100 is my limit so buying from the main Filofax site is a no go. I wish there were more Filofaxes available in orange! Black and brown are just too boring. 😛

  5. I don’t tend to stockpile – although I have been known to buy two of something just because I just have to keep one pristine, although I have no idea why 🙂

  6. Oh,I have been the ultimative stockpiler,when they changed the scent of “Nivea-milk”!!!!I looooved the “old scent”,so I went into countless 1 EUR-shops,to buy as much as I can!!!
    There were a LOT of things,that were so hard to replace with another product…I remember a Hairspray…Chanel-Lipstick…but the worst thing was the Nivea-scenario!!!

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