Leica M10 Handkerchief Edition: Collect or cringe?
I don’t know about you, but I tend to cringe when I hear of a new Leica special edition. Some, such as those in the past sponsored by Leica societies or produced to commemorate famous photographers are acceptable. Other, more recent ones, are not.
It hasn’t taken Leica long to start on what will no doubt be an extensive course of M10 variations. Yet this first example is particularly cringeworthy in my opinion: The Brooks Brothers Edition. Now I used to like Brooks brothers. Time was when I would come back from New York festooned with shirts, ties and the odd jacket or three.
Now I find just as good and cheaper in London, but that’s by the by. But the point is, Brooks Brothers is for clothes, not for cameras. This special edition comes in a leather-tooled box (de rigueur by all accounts) and consists mainly of a bow tie, a set of cuff links, a pocket handkerchief, a set of collar stays and a “VIP card with a serial number”. Want that. Incidentally, the hankie is described as a “pocket square” but I would certainly blow my nose on it in protest.
Somewhere among all that lot is an M10 camera (which looks to me like a bog standard M10, let's not get too excited) and some lens or other. These are obviously minor details, not worth of expanding on. In fact, I’ve had difficulty getting past all the fashion blurb to learn anything about the actual camera and lens.
What we do know is that the Brooks Brothers edition is being sold exclusively in Leica stores in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. Despite all the froth, the price tag, said to be about US$8,500, is pretty down to earth. Strip out the gentleman’s accessories and you aren’t paying much of a premium, it seems. It might even be worth buying on that basis alone.
I don’t like to be intolerant and, generally speaking, believe that there is a time and place for everything, as well as something for everyone. Each to his own, etc. If you want an M10 with a bowtie and hankie, all well and good. But I have a sneaking feeling that all this boutique stuff isn’t worthy of Leica and is actually harmful to its image as a producer of quality photographic equipment. It plays into the hands of the critics.
There have always been special edition Leica sets and there always will be. But collar stays and a set of cufflinks, I ask you?
Will you be rushing to Shanghai for the M10 hankie edition? I will be interested in your views......