Monday, April 14, 2008

Bound to Happen - Backlash of the It Bag

Accessories and beauty products have always been the key to growth for luxury brands. At Chanel for example, where the average customer can't afford the pret a porter, let alone the couture, she can afford at the low end buy a mascara and at the high end a piece of costume jewelry.

These businesses survive on volume sales so they need to carefully price accessories to be expensive enough to attract the aspirational consumer but not too high that they can't afford it and will choose another brand.

So, according to WWD, after years of emphasis on handbags and shoes, which are basically now too expensive for the recession wary consumer, costume jewelry is positioned to be priced at the sweet spot.

The backlash of the "It" bag phenomenon has also opened up new opportunities for other accessories. As the euro has risen, so has the price of handbags produced in Italy by the likes of Fendi, Chanel and Prada. The aspirational customer is now thinking twice before spending over $1,500 on a handbag to key into trends."The bag looks tired to me," said jewelry designer Gerard Yosca. "How much more can you say with a bag right now? Costume jewelry looks more one-of-a-kind and it's about the jewelry, not about the name."Fialkoff said, "Women still love bags and shoes, but we've had a fabulous run of those categories and now jewelry is seen as fresh and new and different. It's offering her newness that she hasn't purchased as much of in recent years."

Only time will tell if costume jewelry will see the same backlash as the "It" bag, especially since iconic luxury brands have joined the mix. Costume jewelry is yet another category where firms like Louis Vuitton and Marni can create branded "It" necklaces."You can tell when someone is wearing a YSL or Lanvin necklace," said Roxanne Assoulin, creative director at Lee Angel. "Costume jewelry has become signature and has brand awareness."

My opinion on all of this, thank you for asking, is that costume jewelry is a complete waste of money. It isn't well made, it breaks easily and can't be repaired, it looks and feels cheap, it can't be reworked into something else, or sold for its intrinsic value.

If you are looking for enduring value and timeless elegance estate jewelry is the only way to go. You get the design, the quality, the history, and the intrinsic value of the gold, gemstones, etc. for a discounted price.

As for history, here's a couple of vintage 1940's - 1950's Retro bracelets from each priced under $500.

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