There has been much attention drawn to the idea of "looking rich" without exactly amassing riches. To expound on this notion, an article in the Business of Fashion newsletter gave way to the theory of "keeping up with the Jones" without the expendable account of the Jones, by highlighting the recent growth in consumer spending on affordable luxury markets. It also noted the decrease in spending for higher end luxury brands.
With the economy still in a rough patch and the idea of saving still a jugular between satisfying personal wants and mandatory needs, it comes as no surprise that people are opting to invest their money on brands that offer the luxury look at less exorbitant prices.
While sifting through a line of merchandise I couldn't help but notice that nearly all of the items I wanted, whether it was clothes, shoes or handbags were all priced over the $500 range, talk about frustrating!
It wouldn't be an issue if all one wanted to do is splurge every once in a blue moon, but what about someone (such as myself) who prefers a closet full of practical albeit nice clothing without having to get into debt or at least having to dream about scoring a winning lottery ticket? in other words does one have to become a multimillionaire celebrity in order to obtain such goods?
Don't get me wrong, I am a staunch supporter of work hard, play hard and understand if you want the finer things in life you have to work hard enough to have the ends to the means. However, for those of us who are very much into fashion and want the Giambattista Valli look with the Target price tag is that even remotely possible? without sounding like some sad, ludicrous pinhead?
One equally viable and sound approach that has been working for brands and consumers alike are cost effective lines for labels that offer similar types of clothing but at a comparably lesser rate. Take for example MICHAEL by Michael Kors. The Michael by Michael Kors collection offers similar casual, stylish and American chic wear but with a far lesser price tag than its straight Michael Kors counterpart.
The same can be said for Calvin Klein whose eponymous label is near a third of the price and equally appealing as his far more expensive Calvin Klein Collection. Armani Exchange by Giorgio Armani, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Marc by Marc Jacobs, T by Alexander Wang, and others have also followed in this same pattern with marked success.
Yet still, there are those luxury brands that consumers want to have without the sliding scale, what are the options out there? A seemingly conducive solution in which the BoF article sheds light on, is the varied sources of affordable luxury lines who have shifted into this expanse; Dooney & Bourke, Coach, and Longchamp Paris to name a few, all of whom in addition to their more expensive range of products have lesser than costly items such as purses that retail for less than $300, accessories that go for under $100 and fragrances that retail on average for under $65.
Another seemingly strong and noticeable trend has been the merge of retail department chains and fashion designers in creating exclusive lines that keep the budget oriented shopper in mind. We see this with Target's very profitable collaboration with designers such as Isaac Mizrahi, Missoni, Phillip Lim, and Prabal Gurung. H&M and its highly successful collaborations with Versace, Isabel Marant, Lanvin and Maison Martin Margiela. And Kohl's whose Design Nation continues to create trendy and affordable clothing, teaming up with Narcisco Rodriguez, Derek Lam and more recently Catherine Malandrino.
Call it a need to eliminate buyer's remorse or just a need to branch out of runway, affluent and business to customer ratio. Whichever the case may be, the need to appeal to the common man is working well for both consumers and designers alike. Hopefully we will witness a turn in affordable luxury where more designers go the way of high end retail at more affordable and flexible price points.