Thursday, April 16, 2009

Have discounts gone the way of leggings?

Were discounted designer duds out before they were even in, much like leggings that were so 17 seasons ago the minute they re-debuted for the first time since the early '90s? The jetsetting, I-step-on-the-heads-of-the-middle-class-on-my-way-to-tea-at-the-Ritz seem to think so. After all, if everyone else can also buy a $3,000 Dolce and Gabbana dress (albeit heavily marked down for us normal folk), than what would distinguish them from us? It would be utterly blasphemy, this near-incestuous melting pot of classes, from the very poor to the very rich, all buying the same things and festering in uncalled-for solidarity. I shiver at the thought.

But you see, that's what would happen if This Economy continues to take its toll on poor designers like Eileen Fisher, Oscar de la Renta and Versace, who it seems would prefer that department stores go bankrupt rather then have to slash prices in order to keep peddling the very designer goods that so many of us covet as an escape from the confines of mid-tier stores like The Gap, et. al. Do the Anna Wintours of the world have a point? If prices were slashed mercilessly, like the sad peeps at Rite Aid sitting restless and 50% off post-Easter, their once-vibrant pink coats now a faded shade of sour pepto bismol, would the playing ground become more even, thus upsetting the equilibrium of the world? Would it all really matter? Does there need to be a defining line -- in this case, made up of obnoxiously unattainable couture clothing that I admit I really, really want -- that separates the successful from the striving, the haves from the have-nots?

If This Economy can absolutely bury the oldest of what we thought were bullet-proof financial institutions (aurevoir, Lehman Bros.), and pick apart and plunder the most notable of giant law firms, pummeling laid off partners and associates in its undertow (aren't these people all supposed to be "recession-proof"?), then surely the economic tsunami can -- and should -- do something as insignificant as lower what are -- let's face it -- purely ridiculous and inflated clothing prices connoting a higher-end lifestyle we all lust after.

Does a full-price, $1,200 Carolina Herrera dress have any more value than, say, the knockoff of said dress at Macy's? Both sides of the class line are beginning to ponder that question, especially the side that was duped into paying full price for it (ahem, Ritz Carlton tea-goers.)

According to The Wall Street Journal, the price swings of designer goods have "confused" high-end customers (poor things), leading them to question the real value of their purchases. Apparently those in this group feel duped for having paid full price.
Shortly after Nancy Novogrod paid full price at a department store for a pair of spring Jil Sander slacks, the editor of Travel + Leisure Magazine got an email saying the store's spring sale was under way. "Spring sale?" Ms. Novogrod said when New Yorkers were still shivering in mid-March. "That's not buyer remorse. That's buyer rage."
Oh how I feel your plight, Ms. Novogrod. (Hold on a second, I need to toss my Target clothes in the laundry. Ok, back.) And so, once the rich feel ripped off (gasp), then of course the designers are left to bear the brunt of the backlash, which has recently caused many to demand being left out of department stores' sales.

"All our brands are taking great care to ensure that what happened in November will not happen again," Paola Milani tells the WSJ. Milani is a spokeswoman for Gucci Group, which owns Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and other brands. And what happened in November was that it was the first time designers saw their merchandise so drastically marked down by the retailers who carried their goods. "The idea is to maintain pricing coherence in the regions in which our products are sold regardless of channel of distribution."

The article states that the luxury brands want to control when they take discounts and on which products. And the deals will likely be less sweeping. Why does that not surprise me...and make me feel somewhat left out. Oh wait, it's because I can't readily flick my debit card over the cashier's counter whenever I get the slightest notion to buy a new coat or handbag costing over $1,000. Come on, Economy, work your magic in the sale section of this brunette on a budget's nearest Bloomingdale's...


Stephanie said...

I visited family in Houston this weekend and we went to a newer outlet mall in Cypress. Granted it was not really high end designers but I was happy with the prices at places like Kate Spade and Cole Haan. They did have a Burberry store there but I laughed when I saw the still too high prices and left.

My blog has a link to Style Spy who lives in Austin and blogs about fashion and she routinely brings home amazing high end designer bargains, but she really knows how to shop to find them. I do not have this gene unfortunately.

Emilita said...

"According to The Wall Street Journal, the price swings of designer goods have "confused" high-end customers (poor things)"....rofl!

Thanks for the Kreativ award a few weeks back. I've been kind of crazy, between moving, accepting a new job, trying to launch a consulting job with a friend in Boston, visiting family, oh, and then just normal life. :) But it really made my day.

I was also glad to see your last post about The Hills! I just wrote about it too, how I'm really over the Heidi/Spencer "drama." Yes, I'll continue to watch, but I can't even pretend to believe at this point that it's anything close to "reality."

Stephanie getting shut down by Kelly Cutrone though...that could be real.

Crystal said...

Stephanie: I love Cole Haan, some of their newer pieces are a bit iffy, but the classic styles are always timeless. I know what you mean though about Burberry. Even at their outlets, the prices are still too high. You can't help but laugh!

Emilita: Congrats on accepting a new job! I wish you well. :) Yeah, The Hills is now out-of-control fake, but that People's Revolution interview HAD to be real -- it was just too awkward! Although Kelly's musing afterward ("Stephanie has to be a genius for the interview to go that badly") was completely fake.

Revanche said...

Hm, that was a pretty quick backlash and shut down of the designer discount. Too bad, I thought there was a chance we might be able to snag something nice before this recession was over. :)

I wonder how they plan to survive, though, should this recession sink into a depression? We'll be far too gone to buy even discounted designer goods if that happens!

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