Sunday, September 7, 2008

Savvy Shopping or Buying into the Sell

Also from WSJ this article on bling and the hot jewelry designers.

Today, the question ‘Who are you wearing?’ is just as likely to apply to your jewelry as your clothes.

So, like with clothes, bags and shoes, jewelry designers are selling a lifestyle or rather a narrative promoting an aspirational lifestyle. Is this anything new? Hasn't Cartier, Van Cleef, Harry Winston and Bvlgari always been doing this?

Well actually no. The great jewelry houses sold beauty, originality, quality and intrinsic value...sometimes with a named designer and sometimes not.

Now it's all about the cult of personality. Stephen Webster's rock and roll lifestyle is as important as his designs to the aspirational buyer.

Webster isn’t a rock star—he just channels the lifestyle of one. As a jewelry designer, he is part of a cadre that’s challenging the way people view and wear contemporary pieces. His crystal pendants, cocktail rings and diamond cuffs are part Punk, part Harry Potter. And his clients (including Madonna) are as interesting as his backers (financier Ron Burkle invested in the business in 2007). All of this adds up to commercial appeal: He sells his collection, priced from $2,000 to $250,000, at stores like Neiman Marcus.
Beyond the gems is an image that fans find consuming. “I really try to put everything I like into my jewelry—driving a motorcycle or listening to certain music, socializing and being with certain people,” Webster says. Customers “need to know what they’re buying into

I think Stephen Webster jewelry is awesome, particularly the Crystal Haze Collection. But it's pretty clear to me that wearing it isn't going to get me invited to parties at seaside villas on exotic Mediterranean islands with the rock stars and Ron Burkle.

I just love the line "Customers need to know what they are buying into". What the hell does than mean anyway?


Once again the lack of interest in the "It" bag is mentioned.

In the past, fashion designers provided that lifestyle association. The $2,000 “It” bag is the most recent example. The point was to create demand for a purse that everyone would wear. Today, with bag overload, some women are seeking items that are more individual, more lasting. Jewelry fits the bill. By way of example, in June, Saks Fifth Avenue said sales of trendy bags had softened, while high-end baubles were moving swiftly.

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