Tag Archives: Barbie book

Is Luxury Dead? Lower Prices for J. Crew? Is 60% Off the New Black?

DISCLAIMER: The following report is rated M for Mature; it descends to new lows in its frequent and flagrant use of the M word (money) and it is intended only for adult readers.

MPAA

MPAA

Everywhere one looks there are stories about “the death of luxury.”

JP Morgan recently called upscale retailer Saks Fifth Avenue “the Gucci Blue Light Special,” referencing the deep discounts they have taken this fall. Below, the company’s sale page on their website.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue

The International Herald Tribune (as well as the NYT) ran a story Monday, “Luxe is losing its edge,” with the focus on struggles facing high-end jeweler Bulgari.

Courtesy Bulgari

Courtesy Bulgari

The story also talks about stores cutting back on expansion plans, like Burberry, Cartier, Saks and others.

The “Sale” notices do continue to pour in via both email and standard mail, many from establishments one would never associate with such aggressive price cuts, like this one from Barneys:

Barneys New York

Barneys New York

Previously, *if* for some insane reason stores felt forced to discount at this level, they hoped and prayed it would not negatively impact their image as purveyors of luxury goods.

We cannot remember the last time (if ever) we saw Burberry Prorsum selling for 60% off their original price, as is the case with the Empire Cocoon Coat.

Burberry Prorsum Cocoon Coat

Burberry Prorsum Cocoon Coat

Not everything at Burberry is marked down at that level; this children’s Argyle Sweater is “only 30% off.”

Burberry

Burberry

The same is true for the children’s Wool Duffel Coat:

Burberry

Burberry

There is even a post at Vivre Magazine online asking if “60% Off is the New Black?” The story raises the question that TP considers the elephant in the room for retailers:

“As stores slash and cut their prices just to hear the cash registers ring, you wonder if consumers will ever want to pay for full price for anything ever again. When this is all over, will any customer actually walk into ANY store and still look at Prada wallets and other designer handbags that used to be kept behind glass and are currently on tables and bins, the same way again?”

The Times ran a story in November “In Hard Times, No More Fancy Pants,” quoting one of our favorite authors:

“The era of conspicuous consumption, at least for the foreseeable future, has come to a close,” said Paco Underhill, the author of “Why We Buy,” which explores the science of retail.”

In yesterday’s WWD a story made the case that “Flaunting Days Are Over as Consumers Cut Back.

The story by Sharon Edelson does feature an amazing Graff necklace that we simply had to share:

Graff Courtesy Photo

Graff Courtesy Photo

The piece is a little over the top in our estimation (this is where Great Aunt Molly would lower her voice and whisper ‘New money sweetie… you know what I mean.”).  Actually, the story channels GAM in a remarkable fashion:

“Logos are becoming less important, said Pedraza, noting that customers are starting to ask for unmarked brands. “People want very understated products,” he said. “They want to consume privately.”

“While people with new money tend to define themselves by their labels and what they spend, the rules are changing. People want to buy more classic luxury at better prices. They don’t want to be the people who are showing off.”

For many readers this is not exactly breaking news. How are you reacting? Are you simply purchasing necessities and/or discretionary items as desired, or waiting for markdowns? Or perhaps a mix of both…?

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While not considered a luxury retailer, J. Crew has also been in the news.  As reported on the WSJ Holiday Sales blog, J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler said:

“J. Crew is trying to adapt, he said, by making small investments in new concepts, implementing a hiring freeze… looking at lowering opening price points for its crewcuts kids line.

Did everyone notice the hiring freeze? We almost missed it upon reading about Crewcut prices, but it was noted in a story on GlobeSt, a real estate website:

“J. Crew has initiated a company-wide hiring freeze Drexler revealed, even during the holiday season… If someone wants to hire someone, someone’s got to leave,” Drexler said.”

Regular readers will remember Mr. Drexler’s comments shared in this post about lowering price points on some adult merchandise. Speaking about the overall climate for retailers:

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life…”

“Right now we’re all a little afraid,” he said. “If there’s anyone getting up in the morning and not saying ‘uh oh,’ then I’d like some of that medication.”

If Mr. Drexler locates a source for those meds we hope he brings enough for the rest of the class.  If not, we fear we shall be forced to make do with a little Prozac latte.

Indeed.

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Filed under Argyle, Logos, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

J. Crew Website Update & A $30,000 ‘Thank You’ Ring for Michelle Obama?

Hello and Happy Tuesday!

It seems our post yesterday on the J. Crew website problems touched a nerve with many readers. The problems were also noted by the mainstream business and technical media. From Crain’s New York in their story:

“This is a terrible time to experience technical difficulties. J. Crew, which underwent a massive redesign of its Web site over the summer, has been suffering glitches ever since.”

There are also multiple reports of similar issues at several big name retailers, including Bloomingdale’s:

Bloomingdale's

Bloomingdale's

Bloomie’s does seem to be up and running just fine today. If considering doing some business in a cyber sort of way, don’t forget their free shipping offer for purchases more than $100. Use promo code SHIPXMAS at checkout.

Crew’s site also appears to be functioning at 100% this morning, providing another fiscally friendly shopping opportunity:

J. Crew

J. Crew

To receive the Extra 30% off sale merchandise, use promotion code EXTRA30 at checkout; this offer ends Wednesday night at midnight. And BTW, this promotional offer was planned all along by J. Crew, it was not created in response to the technical problems, as we wondered aloud yesterday.

TP remains hopeful everyone’s site remains healthy and happy for a robust holiday shopping season!

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We have fun information to share regarding a little trinket Michelle Obama is hypothetically receiving as a “Thank You” gift from the President-elect, at least according to the Daily Mail on the far side of the pond.

article-1090653-02a59aa9000005dc-116_468x301

Courtesy Giovanni Bosco

The ring is to be created by Italian jewelry design house Giovanni Bosco, from the firm’s “Harmony” collection. (The items below are merely examples of the company’s work and do not represent their Harmony Collection.)

Giovanni Bosco

Courtesy Giovanni Bosco

Our struggle with this story is that we simply don’t see the President-elect doing business with a firm that will share this kind of information about personal merchandise in such a public fashion.  The Mail’s story quotes “A spokesman at Giovanni Bosco….” in their story as saying (among other things):

“‘Our American distributor has contacted us and has asked us to provide details on the Harmony ring.

‘It is our top of the range piece and made from rhodium and encrusted with diamonds.”

Courtesy Giovanni Bosco

Courtesy Giovanni Bosco

More quotes attributed to the ‘spokesman’ include:

‘Our agent in the United States was asked by Mr Barack Obama about the ring because he wants it as a thank you gift for his wife Michelle for her support the last two years.”

“We have a select number of clients both in the United States, Europe, Russia and the Middle East and our prices as a result reflect the wealth of our customers.”

The ring is supposedly valued at approximately $30,000 (USD) and it is to be delivered in time for the inauguration in January.

Somehow this is reminiscent of the stories circulating that an outstanding Atlanta designer, Cassandra Bromfield, was selected to design Mrs. Obama’s gown for the Inaugural balls.  Here is our original post on that topic, and then Ms. Bromfield setting things straight in this post.

Of course yours truly could be way off the mark on this one; we shall let you know of any developments.

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For anyone simply unable to last another day without a “Confessions of a Shopaholic” update, Bluefly has posted the movie trailer and more.

Although the film doesn’t open until Feb. 13 next year, the Bluefly microsite has some fun features.

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We see more and more references to the ‘preppy look’ or ‘preppy style’ the Jonas Brothers sport most of the time they appear publicly.

Charles Sykes/AP

PHOTO: Charles Sykes/AP

The three brothers were signing copies of their new book at the Barnes & Noble on Madison Avenue last Friday.  The book, entitled “Burning Up: On Tour with the Jonas Brothers is also available at Amazon.  Actually, it seems to be everywhere; is this one of the “it gifts” for teenage girls this year?

Burning Up On Tour with the Jonas Brothers

Burning Up: On Tour with the Jonas Brothers

And how about “Honor Society,” the band that opens for the Jonas Brothers? The photograph below shows the band performing in Las Vegas Saturday night and they are also looking very preppy in their wardrobe selection.

Ethan Miller/Getty

PHOTO: Ethan Miller/Getty

If ever there were a prep aesthetic for a band it would appear to be these young men. If you have any doubt, take a look at the extra photos they have on their MySpace pages, including these of bassist Andrew Lee:

honorsocietyandrew2bandhonorsocietyandrew1

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For today’s Pretty in Pink we offer Barbie: 50th Anniversary The Ultimate Collection book from the always fabulous Assouline publishing house.

Barnes & Noble is selling the Limited Edition Boxed Set, which has much beyond a standard hardcover book.

The boxed set is also available at Amazon.

Did TP ever share the deep and horrible tale from her youth about Barbie?  No?  Well then, to be brief: we did not have one.

Did. Not. Have. A. Barbie.  (Explains a lot, doesn’t it?)

The truth is, in an effort to instill proper values in her little Princess, TQM advised us prior to the one Christmas when we were positively begging for Barbie that we needed to choose between Barbie and the…

Ummmmm, well… it was actually a choice between Barbie… uhhhhh… er….um…….okay, fine – it was a choice between Barbie and the Beauty Parlor Doll!

The Beauty Parlor Doll. Yep. We opted for the Beauty Parlor Doll. The Beauty Parlor Doll was ‘lifesize’ and made of that dellightful aqua and pink plastic. It was *at least* as tall as TP, how is that for a mental picture?  As we are perilously close to the TMI line, we’ll cease sharing our innermost secrets. It’s just not done.

BTW, the Queen Mother rectified this tragic situation years ago, presenting us with our very own Barbie doll as a birthday gift.

May the rest of your day be splendiferous!

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Filed under Obama Fashion & Politics, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Pretty in Pink