High End Luxury Spending-- What Recession??

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by marketsurfer, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123275452531011647.html

    Brioni 'Vanquish II' suit, $43,000 (far right); earrings, from Van Cleef & Arpels, in 18-karat white gold with diamonds and pink sapphires, $52,500; at the Qiviuk store in New York, suits cost $20,000.

    As the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression swept the globe in October, the high-end Italian clothier Brioni introduced the most expensive line of men's suits in its history. Made to measure from rare fibers such as vicuna, pashmina and Qiviuk, the suits have price tags as high as $43,000.

    "The timing was not fortunate for us," says Andrea Perrone, Brioni's co-chief executive. But Mr. Perrone decided to go ahead, figuring it would send a reassuring signal to customers that Brioni was refusing to compromise on "high-quality initiatives."

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    Heard on the Runway: Follow the latest fashion news, images and analysis from around the world.Complete Coverage: FashionAs manufacturers and retailers hunker down for what could be a prolonged recession, Brioni and a handful of other luxury-goods companies continue to roll out new products at exorbitant prices. This past fall, French luxury label Hermès introduced limited-edition silk scarves inspired by works of the artist Josef Albers at an eye-popping $2,800 each -- the most expensive silk scarf Hermès has ever offered. Van Cleef & Arpels last month launched its 120-piece couture jewelry line, Les Jardins, with prices as high as $2.5 million. Kiton, the Italian designer label, says an $8,125 cashmere-and-vicuna sport coat will be arriving at its stores in a few weeks.

    These products and price points were in the works long before consumer spending fell sharply this fall. But the labels behind them are taking comfort in the belief that their target customers -- the wealthiest 1% to 2% of consumers world-wide -- are still spending, even if they are buying fewer things. Individuals in this group, whom Mr. Perrone calls the "elite of the elite," have bought 30 of the $43,000 suits.

    The outlook for high-end labels, it turns out, depends on where in the luxury hierarchy they are located. Retailers took a holiday beating in December, and consulting firm Bain & Co. expects demand for luxury goods this year to fall by 3% to 7% overall. But at the market's upper-most crust -- which Bain defines as 70 brands including Loro Piana and Harry Winston, as well as Hermès, Van Cleef and Brioni -- sales for 2009 are expected to hold steady or grow moderately, following growth in 2008 of 8%, says Bain partner Claudia D'Arpizio. Very wealthy people may not be buying as much as they used to, but they aren't reducing their standard of living, she says.

    Bain does expect sales declines in the luxury market's lower echelons -- in the segments it defines as "aspirational," with brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton targeting upper middle class consumers with handbags priced from $700 to $2,000; and "accessible," with brands like Coach targeting a broader swath with handbags priced from about $300 to $600. Together, the two segments accounted for about three-quarters of luxury spending in 2008, according to Bain.

    But at the high end of luxury, sales are expected to remain relatively firm. Deutsche Bank analyst Warwick Okines is still forecasting a 2.2% rise in 2009 sales for Hermès International but a 0.3% dip at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. He recently reduced his earnings expectations for each company.

    While middle-income consumers have cut spending because of their income, "that's not the case with the wealthy," says Carl Steidtmann, chief economist at Deloitte LLP. The wealthy are "constrained by guilt, and that's the hurdle high-end brands have to overcome." The luxury advertising message is more important than ever, he adds.

    De Beers, the diamond-mining company and jewelry retailer, recently adjusted its ads, adding a selective-buying message. "Fewer, Better Things," one ad says. "Things with enduring value are better perceived than those that are disposable," says Stephen Lussier, executive director of De Beers Group.

    Nancy Towlen, a Harrison, N.Y., real-estate broker, says she has cut back on luxury spending but made an exception in November for a gold-and-mother-of-pearl butterfly pin. "It doesn't scream $3,000 handbag," she says. "I'd rather buy one really special thing rather than 10 not-so-special things."

    Gay Browne, a Los Angeles producer of green-living guides, says she and her friends "are spending more time making the decision and are more selective, which often means that the item is more expensive, because we want it to last." In December, she says, she spent $1,000 on a pair of Christian Louboutin boots.

    Stanislas de Quercize, chief executive of Van Cleef & Arpels, says he has no regrets about the launch of the Les Jardins line at a lavish dinner for 120 at the Plaza Hotel in New York on Dec. 1 -- a day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged nearly 680 points and the government declared the economy was one year into a recession. Such events remain a "top priority," he says. And a few pieces even sold at the dinner, he adds.

    Write to Ray A. Smith at ray.smith@wsj.com
  2. What is your point?

    The ultra rich live in secluded bubbles, we already know that.

  3. not my point, its from the wall street journal.

    must be lots of them to support all the high end luxury stores/items.

  4. Don't you live in NYC? Step out much?

    Luxury retail stores are shutting down one by one. I like to make a hobby of it, pinpointing which one will close within a month, fun game.

    Old wealth has their luxury retailers established from years ago. Most of the ones that popped up in the last decade are not surviving for a reason. They cater to bubble money, which is gone.
  5. S2007S


    High end Luxury spending, this article sounds completely opposite of past articles I have read over the last 6 months, no one is escaping this recession. Rock and republic which sells the most high priced jeans is coming out with a special line call the the "RECESSION COLLECTION"....go figure, how long do you think they were F$uking everyone with high priced items really only worth 1/2 the value.
  6. I heard a joke recently.

    'A guy is filling up his Jaguar at a gas station, standing in the cold, and another gentleman with a Hyundai Sonata notices his wristwatch, which is a top of the line Panerai...

    'The guy shouts over to the guy with the Panerai, "hey nice watch!!!..."'

    '...to which the guy with the Jaguar says, "Why don't you go fuck yourself!"

    Surf, honestly, I can't believe you think luxury spending hasn't slowed down. The people with serious money I know are all sore in the ass like never before and aren't spending shit.
  7. This may be the deepest recession that never happened.
  8. And one day, when you go off to high school, and then on to college (hopefully), you'll see the world through a lens that isn't filtered by Ma & Pa taking you to 'Baskin-Robbins premium ice cream!' every Saturday Evening for ice cream & sprinkles, so long as you cut the lawn and took out the trash.
  9. It amazes me that some of you guys still haven't placed stock_trad3r on ignore.

    At the very least please stop quoting his relentless drivel so the sensible ET'ers who have him on ignore don't have to read his childish nonsense.

    (Or better yet IGNORE THE TROLL).

  10. i don't know. i was in bergdorf's yesterday evening---it was empty, totally and completly empty save for lonely looking, agressive sales people trying to sell me a loro piana winter jacket.

    that info is from the wall street journal, its what they say, not me---- speaking of Panerai-- a new boutique just opened on madison, as well as a franck muller and audemar boutique-- all opened within the last year or year and 1/2. someone must be spending mad money still... not to mention the vertu store in the plaza which was packed with people last time i walked by, some seemed to be actually buying...

    #10     Jan 28, 2009