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Fashion Inflation: Why Are Prices Rising So Fast?

Orange Hermès Birkin

Orange Hermès Birkin | Source: Hermès


It’s easy to find a nice-looking pair of shoes for $40 these days, and even easier to find a trendy $40 dress. But while “fast fashion” prices are so light on the wallet they almost feel as though they’re going to disappear altogether, the cost of luxury goods continues to rise and rise, with no end in sight.

Currently on luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter, there are more than 100 pairs of shoes priced over $1,000. (Two pairs of sparkly Christian Louboutins exceed $6,000.) And the price of Chanel’s famous 2.55 bag now rivals that of an Hermès Kelly. That is, an Hermès Kelly a decade ago. In the US market, the famous bag, which in the year 2000 started at $4,800, now starts at $7,600.

A nearly 60 percent price increase may seem excessive — especially when compared to the US Consumer Price Index (a measure of the price level of consumer goods, published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics), which has increased by 27 percent over the past decade — but it’s typical in the luxury fashion category.

Indeed, in recent years, prices of luxury fashion products have grown at more than twice the rate of general inflation. In 2003, Carrie Bradshaw’s famous Manolo Blahniks cost $485. Exactly ten years later, the same style is $755, a 56 percent increase. (And several pairs of current season Manolos cost well above $1,000.) Ready-to-wear-dresses in the $10,000 and up range barely existed 10 years ago. Now they’re commonplace. In fact, popular luxury fashion e-commerce site Luisa Via Roma is currently selling a Fausto Puglisi embroidered tartan skirt for over $10,000 and a leather-and-bouclé Fendi dress for more than $13,000.

So what’s driving up the prices and how far can they go?

First, let’s consider the rough costs of producing a luxury product. Gross margins for luxury companies typically hover around 65 percent — that sounds like a lot, but it’s what shareholders now expect. It also means that a $3,500 bag costs roughly $1,225 to produce and bring to market, all the way from materials to sale. There are many steps along the way that contribute to the final price. There are the costs of raw materials, design, manufacturing and fulfillment. Then, at retail, there’s the cost of prime real estate and sales staff. And finally, there’s marketing: those glossy fashion adverts cost a pretty penny to produce, let alone to place. Over the past 10 years — and particularly since the end of the recession — many of these costs have increased dramatically.

Raw materials are more expensive and more scarce than ever before. Cattle prices (which are relevant to leather goods) will rise in the US by 7.3 percent in 2013, according to market research firm Allendale. And in the years since the global financial crisis, cotton prices have risen to previously unheard of levels, with demand from China pushing them even further in 2013 — to $93.08 in June 2013, a 13 percent increase year-on-year. Both Louis Vuitton and Hermès have recently invested in Australian crocodile farms to ensure their supply of the expensive skin, while Kering, in March, acquired Normandy-based crocodile tannery France Croco for the same reasons.

Rising labor costs are a factor, too. The wages of private-sector workers in China (where many brands manufacture) increased by 14 percent in 2012, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. Over the past 10 years, monthly average wages almost doubled in Asia, with an 18 percent increase in Africa, and 15 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean (also important manufacturing centers) according to a report released by the UN’s International Labor Organization. And it’s not just emerging markets. In France, labor costs will, this year, reach their highest levels ever, according to the OECD.

Perception and desirability play a huge role in the pricing game, too. The more expensive something is, the more exclusive and, therefore, desirable it becomes. Burberry, for instance, said as recently as March that it would raise prices to increase its appeal to the upper end of its customer base and attract new, wealthier customers.

For some brands, the anticipation of markdowns is another factor. “Brands’ biggest fear is having to mark things down,” says New York retail consultant Robert Burke. Though a few luxury brands, like Hermès and Louis Vuitton, do not discount, it’s typical for most fashion retailers to mark down at least a portion of their product in order to efficiently clear inventory. One need look no further than the department stores and monobrand boutiques currently offering discounts of more than 70 percent on Spring product to see that customers can, with the requisite strategy and patience, easily buy a pair of $1,400 stilettos for a much more palatable $300. “People who are on the really cutting edge of fashion might buy pre-season [at full price] but many folks wait for the discounts,” says journalist Ellen Ruppel Shell, author of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.

“Designer brands repeatedly going on sale may eventually be forced to artificially inflate prices to counter the margin pressure,” notes Matthew Walker, Creatures of the Wind chief executive, who served as president of The Row from 2008 to 2011. Though this could “lead to price resistance and eventually impact brand loyalty,” he cautions.

But perhaps the most powerful driver of fast-rising luxury fashion prices is the fact that there are simply more people who are able to pay up. The number of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in the world increased by 9.2 percent in 2012 to 12 million people, with combined total assets of $46.2 trillion, according to a report by Capgemini, a management consultancy. North America still hosts the largest number of HNWIs (3.73 million people, up 11.5 percent year-over-year, with $12.7 trillion in assets, up 11.7 percent year-over-year), but the number of HNWIs in the Asia-Pacific region increased by 9.4 percent, during the same period, to 3.68 million, with total assets up 12.2 percent to $12 trillion.

Yes, the rich are getting richer. But is there a limit to what a sane person — billionaire or not — is willing to pay for a pair of shoes? “The question is, how high is high?” Burke asks. “These are people who have their jets outfitted in Hermès leather and Loro Piana vicuna. If demand is there, brands will continue to move up.”


- Yves Saint Laurent

“Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.”


Yves Saint Laurent

Brautjungfernkleider 2013

Enjoy finding an affordable bridesmaid dress.grandgowns

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$500,000 dress from the “Wizard of Oz”

I do adore my gingham plaid, however I don’t know if I would be willing to pull all of my pennies from the piggy bank for the infamous blue and white gingham dress worn by Judy Garland in the unforgettable film, “Wizard of Oz.”

The dress is anticipated to be auctioned for close to half a million dollars. Auctioneer Darren Julien, will coordinate the auction next month. Since the film’s release in 1939, the white-puff sleeve and blue gingham pinafore dress has been the inspiration of millions of costumes sold during Halloween.

Although several dresses were made for the production, this particular dress is the only complete version seen in the film to survive.

History? For sure… and all it costs is a “yellow brick” of gold – for the love of fashion.

Edwardian wedding dress for sale again – 104 years after its last wearer walked down the aisle.

Yards of lovingly-crafted lace, soft satin slippers, and all in a tiny size few modern brides could fit in.

A stunning Edwardian wedding dress is about to be auctioned after being kept in pristine condition by the bride’s family for more than a century.

But while it may have survived being bombed twice by the Luftwaffe and 104 years in storage unscathed, it appears the changing shape of modern women could mean the magnificent wedding dress is never again worn down the aisle.

The delicate Brussels lace was worn by petite Ethel Dalziel when she married Ronald Cooper in Glasgow, and is smaller than today’s UK size 4.

Over a century after it was worn the size of the average bride has grown so much it could almost certainly never fit a bride today.

It is being sold by Ethel’s granddaughter and amazingly the Brussels’ lace frock comes with the original satin shoes, which are a Size 1.

All the accompanying accessories have incredibly remained with the dress, carefully looked after by the family.

Ethel’s family moved to London during World War II where they were unluckily twice bombed out of their homes in Cheam and Enfield.

It also comes with a pair of cream ribbed lace-effect stockings, orange blossom wax headdress and a full length veil.

Ethel, who wore the dress, stood about five feet high with a waist of about 18 inches.

Her granddaughter Elizabeth Hoare said she thought about wearing it for her wedding when she weighed six-and-a-half stone, but couldn’t get into it.

The dress is expected to fetch several hundred pounds when it is sold at auction on Wednesday.

Mrs Hoare, who lives in Somerset, said: ‘It was my grandmother’s dress and her family must have been quite well off.

‘It is made from lace and still has all the accessories including the little shoes that are about a Size 1.

‘She was a very small woman, just about five feet high and must have had a tiny waist. When I remember her she had filled out a bit, but was still very small.

‘She married Ronald Cooper in October in 1908 at the Newlands UF Church in Glasgow with the reception at the Windsor Hotel.

‘The dress was obviously kept by her and then when she died my mother kept it in a box and since I inherited it I’ve kept it in tissue paper in the bottom of my wardrobe.

‘I have no children and I tried to give it to a museum but no one wanted it so I’ve put it in a sale and hope it will go to a new home.

‘I thought about wearing it for my wedding when I weighed six-and-a-half stone but I couldn’t get into it.

‘I remember my grandmother as having an air of authority and a rather pompous Glaswegian accent.

‘She settled in Bayswater and had a fixation about spies and would look out of the window with her opera glasses.

‘In later years she dressed like it was the 1920s and had a blue rinse with curls in her hair.’

Deborah Doyle from Duke’s auction house in Dorchester, Dorset, said the dress was in excellent condition.

She said: ‘It has done very well to survive in this condition; it is very rare. And it comes with all the other accessories.

‘It is a very tiny dress made from Brussels lace with a detachable bodice with short puff sleeves with silk decoration.

‘The front silk bodice is overlaid with lace flowers and flounces of lace and it has a centre silk bow.

‘The full-length two tier lace skirt has scallop edges, falling into a semi circular train at the back.

‘The satin lining is edged with a deep border at the hem with tight concertina pleats which is duplicated with a skirt of fine silk.

‘It comes with the original ensemble kid leather wedding shoes, covered in cream satin and a single diamante clear stone, with ankle strap, fastened with a satin button.

‘There is also a pair of cream ribbed lace affect stockings, orange blossom wax headdress and full length lace veil.’

(original post)

Make ‘em different: Bridesmaid dress trends for 2012

Bridesmaids have the main duty of making sure the bride looks perfect and is calm on that big day, as they are some of the most important people in a bride’s life. When it comes to bridesmaid fashion, why shouldn’t bridesmaids look great too?

In the past, a bride picked one dress for all of the closest girls in her life. This led to many bridesmaids feeling uncomfortable while having to wear an unflattering dress. Whether it was due to an unfortunate color or an uncomplimentary cut, bridesmaids were commonly known to never put the dress on again. Now that it is 2012, all of that is changing.

What’s trending?

A few trends are emerging for bridesmaid dresses that will make it easier for everyone to feel and look great on that special person’s big day. Variations in color and style are becoming more and more popular as brides are realizing a happier bridesmaid equals a happier wedding.

Kayse Carter, owner of local bridal shop Pure Bridal, shares trends she has seen since opening her store earlier this year.

“A lot of girls are coming in who pick the color but leave the style decision up to each bridesmaid,” Carter said, “Strapped dresses work for busty girls and a tighter style for a littler girl.”

There is nothing wrong with wanting to look coordinated, but there is no harm in changing up the style to allow for bridesmaids’ unique styles to shine through.

Carter said, “Girls think having different styled dresses adds a little flare to their bridal party but usually keep a set color.”

Keeping a set color or applying other simple rules such as length or strap type is a great way to let bridesmaids have some reign while keeping the bride comfortable with their decisions. Also, if uniformity is a priority, using the same accessories, shoes or hairstyle can be a great alternative to having the same dress.

Big spender

Since being a bridesmaid means spending the money, brides are realizing that choosing a dress that can be worn again is a big plus. Designers are also finding more ways to make dresses functional for work and even other types of parties.

Carter shared that Pure Bridal aims to choose dresses from the hundreds of styles at the market that can be worn again.

She said Pure Bridal is “not the place for a dress that you will put on once and never want to wear again.”

(by Melanie Anderson – view original post here)

World’s longest wedding dress train is 1.85 miles long? Really….

Pity the bridal party that has to carry this train: A Romanian wedding salon has designed a dress that has the world’s longest train, as designated by the Guinness World Book of Records. The Andree Salon designed a 1.85-mile long ivory train, which stretched across the city center of Bucharest.

The train and dress required approximately three miles of taffeta and 18 feet of lace. According to the Telegraph, 1,857 sewing needles and 150 spools of thread were used in its creation, which took 100 days. The previous record for a wedding dress train, held by a Dutch designer, was approximately 1.5 miles.

The dress was modeled by 17-year-old Ema Dumitrescu, who demonstrated its length in a hot air balloon, which the Telegraph reports, despite being a central event in the city’s biannual wedding fair, was mostly ignored by unimpressed bystanders. Want a copy for your own wedding? The Andree Salon can make your Bridezilla dreams come true…

Electric Fashion: Light Up Dresses Have Hundreds Of LED Bulbs In Fabric

Excuse me, is there somewhere I can charge my dress?

That’s the question fans of CuteCircuit, a fashion tech company, will be asking if they party a few hours too long in one of its outfits. Last week, CuteCircuit launched its second ready-to-wear collection of dresses and tops embedded with LED lights. The clothes recharge via USB, and some items, like the “K-dress,” have controllers that allow wearers to pick the color and pattern of their lights.

The UK brand’s slogan is “future fashion now,” though it tries hard to keep up with current trends. Designer-artist team Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz, who formed the company in 2004, have made custom couture dresses for Katy Perry. In 2010, they made a “phone dress” with a SIM card and antenna sewn in the fabric. Last month, they debuted a haute couture gown at a party for watchmaker Breitling, made with Swarovski crystals and 10,000 LED lights, meant to evoke the aurora borealis, or northern lights.

The ready-to-wear clothes sold on CuteCircuit’s website are a bit more accessible. A black t-shirt minidress speckled with crystals costs 210 pounds, or $332. CuteCircuit is currently talking with retailers about getting its clothes in “fashion forward department stores,” according to PR director Marina Delgrano.

LED lights, which use less energy and last longer than normal incandescent bulbs, are becoming increasingly popular both in homes and for creative projects. The lights are expected to take up 60 percent of the global market share in the next 10 years. Artists and designers have put the lights on shoes, sculptures, makeup, and wine charms, among other products, according to the Elemental LED blog.

Now could be the right time to re-illume electric fashion. In the ’90s, everyone from TLC in their “No Scrubs” video to Kimmy Gibbler on the TV show “Full House” to every cool kid in middle school with L.A. Lights sneakers rocked the trend. Not that this was even where it started — people have been dreaming about putting lights on clothes since the early years of electricity. In the 1930s, British news show Pathetone predicted women would be wearing lantern hairpieces by the year 2000. Katy Perry, take note.

(see original post here)

Kate In Grey Orla Kiely Dress

Kate Middleton sure is getting to see a lot of her in-laws these days.

This afternoon she joined her father-in-law, Charles, at a south London gallery dedicated to art therapy for children. The pair were greeted by hundreds of cheering schoolchildren waving Union flags when they arrived in the bright sunshine at Dulwich Picture Gallery with the Duchess of Cornwall. It was the first time Kate had joined Charles on a visit to one of his charities. They chose to see the work of the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts at Dulwich because of their mutual interest in “art, art therapy and children,” a Clarence House spokesman said.

Kate wore a dark grey Orla Kiely dress with black pattern detail on the top, and a pleated skirt. She wore a coat dress by the same designer on a previous engagement earlier this year. The outfit was completed with black high heels.

(view original post here)

NYC Buses Dress Up With Calvin Klein

Designer is First to Launch L-Side Bus Advertisements

NEW YORK, March 15, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — CBS Outdoor unveiled today its first-ever L-side New York City bus advertisements, featuring design house Calvin Klein, whose men’s and women’s jeans are being featured on sides of 75 MTA buses. The uniquely-sized bus ads, made popular in the United Kingdom, feature male and female models from Calvin Klein displayed on alternate sides of buses driving through Manhattan. This is the first time CBS Outdoor has featured the special-sized creative, which merge standard king-sized bus posters with traditional shelter-sized advertisements.

(view original source here)

Kristen Johnston: We See You

The star of the new Ab Fab wore a lot of sheer layers to the 2009 Lucille Lortel Awards. With the dress, the flower, and the sleeves of her overcoat, is her outfit too busy? Read more posts by Amina Akhtar Filed Under: Kristen Johnston , Look of the Day

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Kristen Johnston: We See You

Ryan Wilde Will Customize Your Hat With Parakeet Wings and Butterflies

Ryan Wilde’s gothic-inspired creations. Ryan Wilde , the milliner behind the glamorous toppers at Williamsburg boutique Tria , launched her own custom-hat shop in Brooklyn this weekend

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Ryan Wilde Will Customize Your Hat With Parakeet Wings and Butterflies