Artist behind the product says he’s making a point about modern society.
As I’m sure my high school English teachers take great pride in, I regularly write about panties in a professional capacity. With that experience, I’ve come to develop a pretty solid concept of how lingerie is priced in Japan.
Ordinary, off-the-rack bra and panty sets will usually set you back somewhere around 3,000 yen (US$27) or so. For novelty lingerie or more intricate designs, however, you can expect to pay north of 5,000 yen, and in cases for such price-inelastic items as certain anime-themed articles of intimate apparel, you might need to shell out as much as 20,000 yen.
However, there’s no pricing precedent for the above-pictured pair of panties being offered here through Japanese website Tagboat. Yes, they are all-silk, but even that upscale material doesn’t seem to warrant the listed price of 90,001,600 yen (US$812,000). Add in the 7,200,128 yen worth of sales tax, and the grand total comes to 97,201,728 yen (US$877,000) (shipping, thankfully, is free).
So why are they so expensive? Well, Tagboat isn’t a clothing retailer. It’s a modern art marketplace, and the panties, officially called “The Only Panties Like This in the World,” are the brainchild of artist Samurai Masa. You may remember Masa from that time when he was selling a glass teapot with a pair of granny panties stuffed in them for a mere one million yen. The artist claims to be a descendent of the Toyotomi samurai clan, and his Tagboat profile includes:
”With [Masa’s] experiences in art and self-studies in contemporary art, he started to pursue his passion in the art world with underwear as his weapon…Coming from a long line of artistic talents, his ancestors also had a relationship with many cultural celebrities, heroes, and heroines in history. A samurai, surviving in the current world, is going into the world of art not with a sword, but with underwear.”
The only noteworthy feature of the underwear is their thick, anti-incontinence material. Masa didn’t make them himself, instead picking them up at a local supermarket (if you squint, you can see the original, still-attached price tag of just 390 yen). Masa describes the impetus behind his repricing and resale as:
“I feel that the recent advance of excessive materialism, brought on by profit-orientation and free competition, has disrupted the balance and values of the world. Through this artwork, I intend to once again bring to light the problems of the societal system called capitalism.”
Slapping a high price on something that provides no extra benefits compared to less expensive substitutes that provide the same benefits speaks to an extremely shaky understanding of how capitalism works, since that’s exactly the sort of business venture that capitalism tends to mercilessly eliminate. As an art piece, though, it’s certainly got people talking, even if none of them are buying.
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