Friday, April 24, 2009

RETAIL SEEKS ITS OWN LEVEL

Unfortunately, yesterday's retail expedition did not yield this many shopping bags for me.
However, some may have walked away with just as many bags...

MANY lined up at HnM waiting to shop Matthew Williamson's new line. Since I don't believe in lining up or getting on waiting lists, I went to my club for lunch.
OTHERS queued in front of Twist/Treshei because the store was 40% off on second hand designer labels and 50% off on house labels. I wonder if that includes the Hermes section. The line at lunch time was too long for me to bother finding out.
STILL MORE lined up on the second level of Ralph Lauren's Central shop for the employee 40% off sale.

HOWEVER, Stella McCartney's new store in Landmark had an 'exclusive event' so exclusive that there were only sales staff and no visible clients in the late afternoon for a sales event that was on all day.

MEANWHILE, the second (and last) day of the Mauboussin VIP sales event was so packed, the HK managing director couldn't even look at me from the corner of his eye.

Clearly business is good for those who have a loyal market whether cheap and cheerful or expensive and exclusive. Either that or good PR.

People outside fashion and retail have been asking me if retail is a good barometer of HK's economy. These days it is hard to tell because as much as luxury retailers are suffering, HSBC did a very successful USD 18 billion rights issue a few weeks ago.

Proof that if there is something good to buy (or at least something the public THINKS has value for money), people will pay for it.

Last month I was at Lanvin looking through the SS09 delivery and there was NOTHING that I wanted to buy even at 50% off for several reasons (this also applies to Lane Crawford and Joyce): First is that Lanvin's current line is so full of party dresses even Carla Bruni couldn't go through them if she had a state dinner every night. Second, and most important to me is that they have become overpriced beyond coloured contacts popping heights.

I have an example that says it all.

Lanvin has a self-lined black silk habutai (the cheapest silk in the universe aka parachute silk in the 80s) jacket with its signature fraying treatment on a breast pocket for ---hold on to your trophy necklace---25,000 HKD (or a little OVER 3000 USD, or for me, CLOSE to 3000 USD with discount).

Does this make sense to you? Silk Habutai is like technology where it gets cheaper every year. It is in fact, cheaper than cotton. In 2003, when Alber Elbaz first started at Lanvin, I was thinking of buying a LEATHER COAT for abour 4000 USD. At that time, I thought it cost too much.

NOW?? What do I get for 4000 USD? A dress with a zipper.
MEANWHILE at Yewn (Peninsula, Landmark and Bergdorf Goodman), you can get beautiful diamond drop earring for 21,000 HKD (or USD 2600)

My salesperson asked me if I wanted to try anything on. I told her I wasn't coming back even for the sale until it was 95% off for the two reasons I mentioned above.

Then she said...All our customers said the same thing.
And where are they now?

It seems like HK shoppers and retailers are waiting to see who will give in first.
Your guess is as good as mine.
(I did cave in and buy something that WAS NOT on sale but that will be a secret to everyone including my husband. Until he gets the bill. It was in fact so secret even to me that I didn't know I left the parcel at the shop until they called me.)

THE PRICE OF HAPPINESS
Last week, my friends and I were talking about--what else? the price of goods---Someone said she accompanied a friend to the Kowloon Louis Vuitton shop where her friend bought a pair of plastic earrings for about 4000 HKD (about 500 USD) and 'they weren't even real gold!" (someone has been talking to my husband....)

But then, another woman in our group piped up, "But was she happy?"
(Of course the answer is 'yes' because I ain't getting dressed and leaving the house and going all the way to Kowloon for something that will not make me palpitate with excitement and breath in our pollution----this is why I DON'T go to Kowloon)
SSSSOOO-----does it simply boil down to happiness?
What do you think?

Being identified with a brand has become so important in contemporary society because it probably gives many a feeling of acceptance or having a 'certain status' or a certain 'level of taste' (this is not for sale, I'm afraid).

It can even be a means of identification. Some websites use "What is your favourite brand?" as a security question. When you forget your locker password at my gym, the attendant will ask you what's inside your locker before letting you access it. "A black bag with straps and a snap" is not a good enough answer. These days, they ask for the brand. Maybe it's time for me to get an Hermes gym bag.

But fashion for me has always been about being different, which is what people are looking for today. You-s kids will never believe how out of place I have felt in the last few years because I wasn't chasing or hankering for every "It' bag.

For some of us, "It' never really happened. Luckily, the time for individuality has finally come!

1 comment:

Sam said...

Well said, Mama Kitty! For the same reason that I held on to my no name canvas man-tote with leather straps and serious metalwork and enough space to store a hungry donkey, and all my work equipment while keeping a discreet sans bling profile.Through all these years! It was worth drooling over the aviator totes from ***** (I cannot bear to drop a label :0 a few seasons back, but at the end of the day, I needed something more substantial to carry around, and a label is not enough!

Been asked: Who made your ratty, arty and fab bag? Beats me! LOL!!

Love your wicked humor, as ever!!!
Have a great weekend!