Advertisement

Is Harrods trolling us by launching a £3,999 ironing board during a cost of living crisis?

Pressing question: who is the Laurastar x Germanier appliance actually intended for? (Harrods)
Pressing question: who is the Laurastar x Germanier appliance actually intended for? (Harrods)

Jeremy Hunt came under fire recently for claiming that £100,000 is “not a huge salary”. The chancellor of the Exchequer doubled down on the comments when challenged, saying that it “doesn’t go as far as you might think”. And hey, when you think about it, he’s right.

After all, for the 4 per cent of Brits who earn six figures, there are plenty of outgoings to consider: the £16k-per-term fees to send your kid to the better class of private school; soaring mortgage payments on the second home; £800 per roll of gold wallpaper to redecorate your Downing Street office... and now, just shy of £4k for an ironing board.

This last essential item comes courtesy of Harrods, which has just started selling the Laurastar x Germanier “ironing system” for an oh-so-reasonable £3,999. There’s no doubt it offers bang for your buck. The iron and ironing board combo would make a “bold yet functional addition” to any home, says the retailer, and comes with an inbuilt water tank, “intelligent” steaming system, and – most practical of all – a keychain made from upcycled Swarovski crystals.

The iron also offers “maintenance alerts” via a smartphone app, though what these could possibly consist of it’s hard to say. The bold pattern and colour palette were designed by Swiss fashion designer Kevin Germanier, a former student of Central Saint Martins art school in London, who said the product was all about “glamour, sustainability and authenticity”. And who are we to argue? There’s nothing that says “authenticity” quite like charging the price of a car for something that would set you back 25 quid from Argos. And nothing screams “glamour” like an armful of wrinkled laundry.

While it’s hard to put a price on creative genius, Germanier’s clocks in at around £2,000 – that’s how much more his ironing board costs than Laurastar’s model with the same specs minus his design.

Whenever I see wilfully, extravagantly overpriced versions of everyday items – the world’s most expensive burger retailing at $6,000 (£4,750); the £5m iPhone encrusted with diamonds – I always experience an overriding sense of perplexity. Who, I wonder, are these products for? This feeling is even more acute when it comes to the ironing board, given that the kind of person who has thousands to spend on such frivolity is spectacularly unlikely to be the one using the appliance themselves. I’m not convinced that “the help” will fully appreciate those Swarovski crystals, however upcycled they may be.

If it’s supposed to be a status symbol, one also has to question the efficacy; it’s not like anyone will ever see it. Once again, I must posit that the kind of person who has that level of dosh sploshing around is hardly going to have an ironing board out when guests come over, are they? It creates something of a paradox: owning a luxe, “aspirational” ironing board, but being unable to have it out for people to lust after because the very act of having such an obviously domestic item on display bursts the luxe, aspirational bubble.

It also poses the classic “tree falling in the woods” philosophical question – if a person acquires a £3,999 ironing system and there’s no one to see it, does it still make a sound (investment)?

There’s nothing that says authenticity quite like charging the price of a car for something that would set you back 25 quid from Argos

I can’t help but wonder whether the whole purpose of releasing such a product is pure publicity stunt, with zero expectation that any will ever be sold. If the old adage that “all press is good press” is correct, why not infuriate people for sport with a headline-grabbing domestic appliance amid a cost of living crisis in which spiralling rents and mortgage rates have left thousands struggling to keep a roof over their heads? Either that, or London’s flagship upmarket department store is even more out of touch than career politicians floundering to guess the price of a pint of milk when pressed on their “man of the people” credentials.

Either way, I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson about what a struggle it would be to survive on a mere £100k a year when forced to keep up with the Joneses. Perhaps the rest of us should count ourselves lucky that we’ve sidestepped the pressures that Hunt and his ilk are subject to – and appreciate the simple pleasure of doing the ironing without the side of bling.