17 budget-friendly gifts from fancy luxury brands

Sort prices from low to high, please.

Unless you’re that kind of person, the amount spent on a gift is not equivalent to the heart, the thought and the intention set behind the giving of the gift. Unless you are that kind of person. Then, sorry. You’re a very hard person to shop for!

If it’s a she-wants-Chanel-but-you-can’t-afford-Chanel kind of relationship, well, you can get her Chanel. Just not the bag. The little egg-shaped hand lotion, maybe. A single make-up brush. Maybe a quilted cardholder, if you’re feeling very generous. The holiday season contains multitudes.

Below, a full list of things you can afford from the brands you think you can’t afford. Because love is about compromise. So Christmas gifting should be, too.

17 affordable, budget-friendly gifts from unaffordable brands:

This is most probably a fifth of the size of that fuzzy Jacquemus sweater she has her heart set on, but this gift guide is about affordable luxury. So this knitted headband will do just fine.

She’d still get to unbox hot-pink Jacquemus and feel that much closer to Kendall Jenner, and you’ve just spent half a rack for her priceless honour of being able to say “Why yes, I am wearing Jacquemus.” Win-win.

Karlie Kloss looks camp right in the eye in a compact that’s defiantly not Chanel, so there isn’t much, really, that’s more luxurious than blotting your face staring straight into a double-sided, CC-branded compact. It’s Chanel! It’s no quilted crossbody or tweed co-ord but hey, it’s Chanel. Say it again. Once more with conviction. That’s your script as she unwraps her Camellia-adorned gift on Christmas morning. Chanel!

There are many circumstances Dior’s mitzah scarf can make cameo appearances in. Knotted at the neck with ends dangling by the décolletage, the ladylike way to wear it. Wrapped tight by the wrist in a bow if you’re keening for a statement bracelet. Even, coiled along the top handle of a handbag as a silk-twill measure of protection. You know what, make this a game come Christmas morning. Brainstorm even more uses for it.

As an updated scrunchie! As a full-sized scarf for a little furry influencer! As a flag you’d wave in surrender on a deserted island! Endless possibilities.

If it’s the Belle of the… Office Cubicle the gift recipient so desires, Gucci’s venture towards workplace stationery will check off many luxurious boxes. These sticky notes say “No thanks!” to the colour yellow and to squares and 90-degree angles. Instead, it upgrades from four- to six-sided shapes on horsebit-printed pages yearning for your very best chicken scratch and meeting doodles.

Socks. It’s the worst gift one can receive as a child, but one of the very best one can receive as an adult. Who likes spending hard-earned cash on practical, everyday items, which can only be worn in pairs, with, too, an unfortunate propensity for vanishing into thin air (or, at least, vanishing into the backs of couches and depths of washing machines)? Not me. Not you, either.

In these, at least you’ll have warm toes encased in Balenciaga-stamped cotton, in a bright, tennis-court green colourway you cannot lose sight of in a sea of black and barely-white.

These are sexy. These are the kinds of nylons one would wear if they had F-You money; the kind Christine Quinn on Selling Sunset would wear in a top-to-toe Fendi x Skims outfit, complete with a monogram-intarsia beret and F-embossed earrings and whatever else logo-stamped accessory she can squeeze onto the square-footage of her body.

And if you’re more Chrishell than Christine, wear these with a sparkly cocktail dress instead.

It may look like it, but this Louis Vuitton tie is not, in fact, made from denim. It’s silk twill — just in a very convincing indigo-navy that looks as though it was cut from Baggy GM deadstock from 2005. If you’re very cool, you’ll wear this with, of course, a Canadian tuxedo previously pulled off only by one Justin Timberlake. If you’re less so, try suiting pants and a slick bomber jacket instead.

The specimen in question: a branded, luxury leather card holder for less than a thousand dollars. A creature near extinction! Thank you, Acne Studios. Granted, there are only three card slots so the recipient will need to choose from their rolodex if they’re currently wielding an East-West continental.

My choice: one, ID; two, credit card; and three, whatever keycard you need to open the front door at your office. And if your office isn’t from the ’90s like mine is, the stamp card from your favourite coffee shop. No brainer!

No matter the amount of slap bracelets you’ve had whacked onto your arm with a strength that’s not without some weight behind it (meaning: ouch), you’ve never been rapped on the wrist with one like this. It’s Loewe! It’s leather. It’s high-low, tongue-in-cheek luxury — the kind that says “Yes, I’m kinda bougie. But I’m also fun!”

This comes in three colours — black, orange and tan brown — so choose whichever matches the giftee’s Puzzle bag.

Oh, you love your Prada backpack? Now you can also love your new Prada lunch bowl, which you can tote around in your Prada nylon. This glass lunch bowl is made in collaboration with Black+Blum, which is a brand known for producing sustainable food storage containers that are durable and made with a reduced environmental impact. So you can really feel good about scooping day-old lasagna into this nice, stainless steel-topped bowl. You’re being green!

She hinted heavily — nay, resolutely — at Bottega Veneta. But you’re on a budget! Thankfully, this AirPods Pro case offers a very comprehensive laundry list of BV signatures. That Parakeet green. That intreccio weave. It even comes with a detachable leather strap she can wear as a bracelet with the rest of her Bottega green. Mix and match!

This is the most expensive thing on my humble list of affordable luxuries, and here are three reasons I think this is worth its price tag:

  1. It’s a pack of cards. You’re always going to need a pack of cards.
  2. The cards are rimmed in that golden foil that looks so expensive.
  3. It comes tucked in a Celine Triomphe Canvas case which I’d personally use as something adjacent to a cardholder. A holder for hair ties and scrunchies. Cigarettes if you smoke. It’s, basically, an SLG that comes with free playing cards — which is a Very Good Deal.

I’m not sure what you’d use a padlock for in Hong Kong, or why your padlock is, monetarily-wise, more valuable than whatever you’re padlocking, but if you — or the person this gift is intended for — is in the market for one, there surely isn’t a padlock as lovely as this Givenchy stunner. It’s finished in gold and silver (we love mixing metals!) and engraved with Givenchy’s geometric logo alongside the centre bit. Very fancy.

Actually, I guess you can slide keys onto this? A key-holder. Remember that for your speech on Christmas morning.

Pool slides, but make them Burberry. Your giftee will wear them to the pool, yes, but also to the beach; on errands with socks and sweatpants; slipped on very hastily to meet their foodpanda driver; then, to work because dress codes set up an archaic, anachronistic standard that really should be nulled in favour of comfort. Burberry-approved comfort.

These aren’t just socks you’d get for the Margiela zealot, though it’ll be very well-received there, too. These are the socks you get for the person who loves wearing thonged sandals even in the dead of winter. Well, Hong Kong’s dead of winter. Which isn’t actually too hard on a bare, sandalled foot, but that’s not what you’re going to include in your Christmas note alongside this pair.

These notched-in Tabi socks fit snug in-between the first and second toes. A resolution: No in-betwixt-toe wedgies for 2022.

This JW Anderson T-shirt is, actually, more affordable than some socks on this list (see: #15). Given the square-footage this covers — a torso vs. two feet, for example — it’s a very good deal for what you’re shelling out. Especially because it’s not just a logo-embroidered tee, no. It’s also printed with a graphic peach where a chest pocket would normally sit, which makes it a perfect gift for the sweetest peaches in your life. Or, a CMBYN-Timothée Chalamet superfan.

A rack might be a little up there for a belt, but like the crossbody flap is to Chanel, or the Saddle bag is to Dior, this yellow, printed-over belt with the buckle you might otherwise see on overalls or construction workwear is an Off-White signature. It’s the Off-White piece to get, if you were to get an Off-White piece.

(Hero image courtesy of Fendi x Skims and Vanessa Beecroft)

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