Friday, January 30, 2009

WSJ: Fashion: A glimpse of the future of luxury

Oh the GSNYC loves it when prices on:

Fashion: A glimpse of the future of luxury
By Teri Agins
30 January 2009
The Wall Street Journal

THE PARTY IS OVER for the fancy labels that once scored big on $600 stilettos and $1,500 "It" handbags. This year, world-wide sales of luxury goods are expected to fall between 3% and 7% from a year earlier, according to a Bain & Co. study.
Moreover, many fashion-industry veterans believe last fall's steep discounting of European designer goods by 70% or more did lasting damage to the perception of luxury. People now feel like they were ripped off by high prices all along -- and they are vowing never to pay full price again. If you can buy a Michael Kors wool dress for $230 on sale, as I did, you may wonder if its original $2,400 price wasn't a bit high to begin with.
The discounts follow other moves that have blurred the distinctiveness of luxury. When hip designers like Proenza Schouler, Roberto Cavalli and Viktor & Rolf can create nifty pieces that sell for under $100 at H&M and Target, it raises the question: Why can't they keep the prices in their signature collections from creeping over $1,000?
"It will take at least a year or more for people not to become nervous, thinking that if they had waited a couple of months longer, they could have bought something at 50% off. People don't want to be made a fool of," says John Idol, chief executive at the Michael Kors fashion house.
Now, luxury designers and retailers are responding to the new environment by altering the way they make, price and sell their goods.
We surveyed some of the smartest people in the luxury business in Europe and the U.S. to find out what luxury shopping might look like in coming years.
Some features:
-- Permanent price cuts. The weak U.S. dollar boosted the prices of euro-denominated Italian and French luxury goods by a third or more in the past few years. Shoes that once cost $550 shot up to $700 or $800 -- giving even the most rabid fashionistas sticker shock.
"Designer clothes are way overpriced; there's no way that a blouse that a woman paid, say, $1,500 for three years ago is now worth $4,000," says Allen Questrom, a former chief executive at Barneys New York and the former Federated Department Stores. His prediction: Prices will fall to better reflect the "price-value relationship of the merchandise."
"We have to lower our prices," agrees Alber Elbaz, the designer for Lanvin in Paris, where prices for cocktail and evening attire range from $2,600 to $8,000. "For the past month I have personally been on the phone asking our manufacturers, our fabric makers, all our suppliers to give us a better price," Mr. Elbaz says. "It's the subject of the day."
Emanuel Ungaro, another French fashion house, has already cut prices on 18 items for early fall delivery, dropping the price of one jacket, for instance, by 20% to $1,800. Prices for high fashion have become "way too expensive, and it's time to lower them," Ungaro CEO Mounir Moufarrige said through a spokeswoman.
-- More high-end bargains. Upscale chains such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus are stocking far less merchandise this year, in hopes that they won't have to mark it down. But savvy shoppers won't be starved for bargains. For one thing, consumers may keep refusing to pay full price, despite fashion labels' efforts to make clothes more affordable. But also, there's a glut of fancy merchandise still in the pipeline.
The Web sites that peddle excess designer inventories at a discount are here to stay. Gilt Group Inc., a members-only discount Web site, has about 25 sample sales a week, featuring labels such as Missoni, Vera Wang and Valentino. Another site,, sends alerts to its members as soon as retailers start marking down their favorite designers by 40%.
No matter where the economy goes, a new generation of consumers "are spending differently and shopping online," says Alexis Maybank, co-founder of Gilt. Apparel makers have adapted to the presence of discounters, accepting smaller margins in order to sell more -- and sometimes even making goods expressly for the outlets.
-- More luxury goods made outside of Europe. With growing pressure for lower prices, more luxury makers will have no choice but to shift more production from Italy and France to China and other places.
"You can't tell me that you can't get the same quality in China that you can in Europe," says Mr. Questrom of Barneys and Federated.
Three years ago, womenswear label Lafayette 148 hired Barbara Gast, a production veteran of Italian luxury maker Ermenegildo Zegna, to move to China and teach 120 Chinese workers how to produce and finish fine-gauge knitwear, which sells for an average price of $350 a sweater for cashmere and $228 for merino wool.
"Our suppliers have told us that our product is on the same level with those made in Italy," says Deirdre Quinn, president and co-owner of Lafayette 148. Last year, the $100 million-a-year brand moved all production to its newly built factory in Shantou, China.
Of course, many labels won't broadcast such moves; don't be surprised if you see more labels that read: "Styled in Italy."
Upscale labels mix it up with more inexpensive items. The Marc by Marc Jacobs label plans to add more "exclusives" -- items found only at its own stores, says Robert Duffy, president of Marc Jacobs. Those exclusives will include more inexpensive items, he says. "We have always believed in having a broad mix of prices, like our $11 flip flops . . . and our $28 rain boots," he says.
Michael Kors boutiques -- which sell handbags and shoes at various price levels, ranging from $150 platform sandals to a $3,200 python handbag -- are employing a similar strategy, showcasing high and low-priced options alike. "Customers already cross-shop between designer shops and Zara, so we're just allowing them to do it in our own stores," says Mr. Idol.
Lord & Taylor is taking market share from higher-end merchants by offering designer looks for less, says Richard Baker, CEO of NRDC Equity Partners, which owns Lord & Taylor. He cites $89-to-$350 shoes with "the look of Gucci and Prada -- styles that can cost $700."
Burberry Group, a brand whose outerwear runs from $400 to $5,000, is launching its first jeans line, priced from $150 to $250. Says Angela Ahrendts, Burberry chief executive: "Our luxury positioning is more democratic than any of our peers."

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

LA Was Not a Total Loss: Hotels & Handbags

I know, I missed me terribly. And I, you. But I am back from that city on the other side of the country. I stayed at the London yet again, and aside from the biggest bug that was hiding in my bath towel, the experience was great. And, we are all fortunate because while dining han-solo-style at the bar at Gordon Ramsay (which is on the ground floor of the hotel), I met a NYC-based handbag designer named Darren Wallace who I am now extremely anxious to see more from. The pictured bag is Parker Lamb Clutch - Redwood and if you go to his site you will see a couple other bags - including an award-winner that was featured on CBS this morning. Now, you all know that I am not a fan of the PURSE, but I am a sucker when meeting an artist in person! Stay tuned on this newcomer - he promises that his site will soon be more robust!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Economy Got You Down? Consign THIS!

Whether or not your finances have been impacted by this plummeting economy, now is a great time to get rid of the goods in your closet and home, and make some money while you're at it. I have begun to do this during the last year or so, and while I have not gotten rich, it has given me a sense of pride, as though I am building my cred as an independent business woman. A "wee"bay, if you will.

And a funny thing happens - the stuff you think nobody would ever buy, goes in a blink, while the stuff you are sure that people will be dying for is e-ignored. Examples - I have been trying to get rid of a chair for a year to no avail, but my speaker stands and 18-year-old Nakamichi stereo receiver got snapped up in less than 3 days after posting them on craigslist.

And, on the flip side, if you are relatively broke and in need of some new items, shopping this way is not a bad way to go. Especially if you are in dire need of couture.

For example, La Boutique Resale with its three NYC locations (one UWS, two UES) is both a great place to GIVE (i.e. consign) your gently used top designer fashions and BUY such items - and right now during their winter sale you can score such duds at up to 70 percent off (through March 15).

Plus, if you have a postcard from them like I do, you can get additional 10 percent of your total purchase. I have gotten a few things here this way, even I give into Fendi, Escada and Dior from time to time...

Jan 29: ANNA Party Feat. Heather Nicosia Jewelry

DAMN! I wish I could make this party, but I think I will be elsewhere. So YOU be my proxy and report back.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Les Nanas - Update

Les Nanas - One of my favorite stores where everything is direct from Paris IS NOT GOING OUT OF BUSINESS. Apparently the owners have found buyers and are planning to keep it running the way it has been run for the 20+ years it's been there - this is great news. And although I am sad to see the original owners skip town for greener pastures (literally), I am very happy that they are leaving their unique mark behind. So happy I spent some moola in there today - major sale action!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Beauty Pros Team Up: Free Pre-Valentine’s Primp and Pamper Event

Valentine's Day is easily one of the more depressing days of the year for most of us. And to add insult to injury, it falls on a Saturday this year. But don't let that get you down! Take the world by storm, Bridget Jones-style!! Or at least get some free beauty advice and cocktails:

To get women looking their sexiest before Valentine’s Day, Three Custom Color Specialists, pioneers in custom-blended makeup, are teaming up with Juara Skin Care and Red Market Salon for a free evening of cocktails, consultations, and one-night-only deep discounts on makeup and skin care products.

The first 150 attendees will score a free goodie bag, including full-sized products from Juara, Three Custom Color Specialists, and a certificate for a free blow-out at Red Market Salon.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 4th, 6PM – 8:30PM
WHERE: Red Market Salon, 32 Gansevoort, 4th Floor
HOW: RSVP’s are recommended. E-mail with your and your guests’ names. Walk-ins welcome as space permits; cash only.

Juara Skin Care Founders will be on-hand pampering each guest with winter skin treatments featuring their line of Indonesian-inspired botanical products. One-night-only deep discounts will be offered. Red Market Salon Pro stylists will meet with guests to discuss the best styles for their hair texture, face shape, and lifestyle. Three Custom Color Specialists will offer makeup-touch ups, applications tips and provide one-night-only deep discounts on picks from their coveted Ready-To-Wear line.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jan. 29: Housing Works’ Brooklyn Thrift Shop Turns Two

Brooklynites are invited to celebrate the second anniversary of Housing Works Thrift Shop's thriving Brooklyn location at a free and open-to-the-public in-store party on Thursday, January 29 from 7pm to 9pm. (Housing Works members get in at 6pm, a full hour early! Join Housing Works—you’ll do good and save big).

Housing Works' Brooklyn Thrift Shop is located at 122 Montague Street. To mark the occasion of two successful years in Brooklyn, Housing Works is giving party goers first crack at a treasure trove of designer clothing and jazzy house wares, furniture and books. Don’t miss specially discounted items such as:

Michael Kors leather blazer, $145

Tadashi silk and chiffon dress, $140 (see photo)

Vintage mink and leather jacket, $450

Diane von Furstenberg dress, $120

Oscar de la Renta jacket, $110

Brand-new Roberto Cavalli dress, $115

Fenton vintage glass bowl, $45

International Silver Company silver-plated ice bucket, $20

Fred Press Mid-Century Glass Set, including carafe, petite glasses, wood-handled tray, $40

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Michelle Obama - Fashion Icon?

I know this will not be a popular statement to make, but Michelle Obama does not display a natural knack for style or fashion. Her hot husband, aka our President? Yes, he surely does. I think the French may really start to like us again soon as a result.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wrap it Up, I'll Take it: Jan 12-25

RTR Packaging
M-F 12-8p; Sat-Sun 1-6p
RTR Packaging Showroom
27 West 20 Street (5th-6th Avenues) Street Level
Gift Wrap & Gifts

Early spring sale. Save 50% Off. With spring around the corner, RTR Packaging has everything you need for gift wrapping this season. RTR’s gift wrap in 25 foot roils are $8 per roll with tons of prints and patterns to choose from. Also find other spring must haves, including ribbons, gift boxes, gift bags, greeting cards.

And ... Jonathan Adler pillows, teapots by Martine Goron, Handbags and much more. Save 50% off their already low wholesale prices.

Need more than one bag? They have items available by the case (bags, boxes, tissue & ribbon). Buy the case and save more. Free ground shipping for all orders of $150 or more.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tokidoki Sample Sale: Jan. 22-25

I got word of this sample sale from tokidoki, which apparently means "sometimes" in Japanese. I really have nary a clue as to what it's all about, but check out this page of the site: where you can get a FREE blind box cactus pup if you spend $35 until January 21!

A free what when where why who?

Oh, forget it, just go to the sample sale:

January 22nd - 25th
Thursday 12noon -7pm • Friday 8am - 7pm
Saturday 10am - 7pm • Sunday 10am - 7pm
Metropolitan Pavilion
123 West 18th Street (6th-7th Avenues)
4th Floor
212.736.6262 Ext 2007

The first-ever tokidoki sample sale! Come experience the cute and playful yet sexy and sophisticated world that is tokidoki! 60% to 80% off current and past collections. Over 10,000 treasures from the tokidoki accessory collection. Handbags, totes, backpacks, messenger bags, belt bags. Also t-shirts (women's and men's), hats, jewelry and much more.

Cash, Mastercard, Visa & American Express accepted. All sales final. No exchanges or refunds.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Apartment Shopping: The New Bargain?

Hello my monkeys. The Guerilla realizes that she has been relatively quiet on the shopping front. Reasons being: The economy stinks, January and February are not top shopping months, I have bought more stuff than ever in my life during the past year, I need to lose weight from the holidays (which seemed to have started in September this year), and I have been hunting like Dick Cheney for real estate. This has reduced the time I have available for other kinds of shopping and it makes me feel the need to save every penny I earn just in case the perfect pad pops up. I even got pre-approved for a mortgage via Wells Fargo already.

Although I did buy one of those DVD/VCR combo players the other day at Best Buy - it's Samsung and seems to do the trick.

Anyway, I have been spending weekends either going to appointments with real estate brokers or visiting open houses. Today I have a plan to see about 5-6 apartments. So while I have been seeing a better grade of apartment (they are all co-ops, by the way), and the prices are coming down, the cost to own in this town is still outrageous (and all smaller than the place I already live in). So my mental dilemma is: should I bite the bullet and buy something so that I can call myself a homeowner? Or do I continue on the plan I had in mind last year - pimp my rent stabilized apartment as though it were mine? I continue to waiver between these options.

Regardless, I am not buying a thing before March. Winter is a crappy time of year for real estate as it is, so I am hoping that my tenacity, no matter what the weather, will help me to more possibly become a homeowner for less. And in doing her research, Mother Guerilla discovered some articles that remind us that during the last 4-5 years, the real estate market shot up to levels that can't possibly be sustained under the current economic circumstances. I mean just since 2004 the prices of one bedrooms have gone up 60-100 percent! No other investment that I can think of even comes close to that kind of return. So, please, sellers -- either you have to accept a smaller return on your money or you may have to accept the fact that you bought at the top of an unsupportable real estate market and got swindled.

Either way, remember I am a buyer who has a mortgage at the ready. You want my money? Here it is...see it? Snap!

p.s. To sellers and their brokers. If you claim your apartment is in "mint+++ condition," please make sure that it is - for everyone's own good. An apartment with a tiny kitchen that has no dishwasher and only two stove top burners and no oven (save a convection oven-microwave) does not a "mint +++" apartment make. And lower that price! You are never going to sell.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jan 17: Loden Dager Sample Sale

As reported in PAPER magazine's VIP Newsletter:

SATURDAY, JAN. 17, 2008
Ecco Domani winner and PAPER fave Loden Dager joins the recession-time sample sale bandwagon with a 40 percent off resort wear and 75 percent off everything else free for all. The multi-talented five-person outfit got their start when two of the members met while working at Marc Jacobs. Loden Dager's Americana-inspired menswear designs are typically only available at the likes of Barneys and Opening Ceremony, so jump at the chance to get your hands on the duds of Marc's wunderkind design offspring at steep savings.
147 W. 29th St., 5th Fl.
1-6 p.m.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

MLK Day: Lord & Taylor

From Lord & Taylor, the store that can't stop giving you sales - here's more for MLK Day. A day when I will be working at my day job while most of the rest of you will be doing whatever you want! BOO!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mint: Car Rental That Doesn't Cost One

I read about this Zipcar rival called mint on Urban Daddy NYC, and am thinking I had better check it out because it sounds a ton cheaper. I have yet to scope it out, but will report back once I get a chance.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Real Estate NYC: A Guerilla's Assessment

The Guerilla Shopper has temporarily stopped buying herself consumer goods as she has begun to look at real estate all over New Amsterdam...

And I've discovered that while prices are definitely coming down, buying in this here City is still next to impossible. The math just doesn't work. High prices. Minimum 20% down. Monthly maintenance fees often north of $1,000. Small spaces. Co-op boards. And on it goes. I finally did see several places this week that were at least inspiring and livable, but hard to give up my large, rent stabilized one bedroom in a decent 'hood.

So why am I looking to dump my apartment?

Well first, I ALWAYS miss the real estate or stock market, or pretty much every financial "party" - so I decided that I needed to get out there now in this down economy, so that even if I don't buy anything, I won't have to kick my own ass later and exclaim "WHY DIDN'T YOU LOOK WHEN PRICES WERE LOWER!?" Also, while I live in a rent stabilized building, my rent is not super crazy cheap. If it were, we wouldn't even be having this one-sided conversation. So since my rent is going to increase yet again starting in May, I am also thinking that I may as well put my money to work.

So, no, I am not going to give a detailed look into what I have seen and my assessment of each. At least not until I buy something...real estate is serious business!

But I will tell you about an apartment that I am not going to buy, which was extremely enticing...except for the location for most people. In Washington Heights at 790 Riverside Drive stands "The Riviera," an extremely impressive monument to apartment buildings built pre pre war (as in before WWI). Right near the 1 train at 157th St., apartment 4K offers 5 real rooms - 2 bedrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen for $599k ($1,168 mtc). Do a google search for more details - or look for it on Corcoran's site. If you work at Columbia or just crave a real old-school building with vast living space for less than $1.4 million, this could be the spot for you.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Eat Me: Bacon Brittle

First, T-Shirts, and now...the real thing! Pig Whiskey Bacon Brittle brought to you by some zany creative types who dwell in Williamsburg, BK.

It's peanut brittle! It's bacon! Nope....It's both! Two great tastes that taste great together and you too can be eating bacon brittle for the low low price of ten dollarinos per bag (pictured). Just click here and you are well on your way to pig-like bliss...

p.s. I have eaten it and I agree, it truly is Porktastic.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pig Whiskey Bacon Brittle T-Shirt

I may have an inside track on how you can get one of these very limited edition T-Shirts all the way from Brooklyn...Williamsburg that is...if you're interested.

OK you convinced me. You too can have one (or more!) of these T-shirts, just click your clicky thing on this and you will be well on your way. You can even get a sexy version for THE LADIES - in short sleeve and long.
And yes this Bacon Brittle really exists, and yes it is Porktastic. I will soon have more info on when and where you can get it. It's good and it's good for ya!
And how hot is this model's torso by the way?

Emmett McCarthy Sample Sale Jan 8-11

Emmett McCarthy
Private sale: January 7, Wed 11-7 (THAT'S TODAY!!)
Public sale: January 8-11, Th-Sat 11-7 Sun 12-6

240 Elizabeth Street(Prince-Houston Streets)

The sale officially starts on Thursday, but the private sale preview is TODAY from 11am to 7pm with the opportunity to meet Emmett McCarthy, himself.
New York-based designer Emmett McCarthy (of Project Runway fame) is hosting a sample sale at his Nolita boutique.
Prices are seriously reduced - now 60 to 70 percent off.
Cashmere “Hepburn” coat now $390. Silk brocade “Audrey” cocktail dress now $170.
His fabulous shoes are also on sale 40 to 50 percent off.
The EMc2 collection is exclusively sold in his boutique.
They accept cash, Mastercard, Visa and American Express.
Preview this sale by visiting

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bar Milano's Upcoming Transformation!

I very recentlyposted a blog regarding the closing of Bar Milano. I just got the following comment, and wanted to make sure everyone saw it, as I believe it is grand news for the 'hood I call Grey Box (and particularly for our collective wallets):

"Jason Denton and company have decided to transform Bar Milano into a new ‘inoteca and liquiri bar after the New Year. The last day of operation as Bar Milano will be December 31st. Already possessing a great space and a bustling bar scene, we aim to deliver casual Italian dining and great wine and spirits at a recession-friendly price point. Effective January 1st, the restaurant will close for minor renovations and to migrate key staff members up from the Lower East Side. We're excited about the change and look forward to bringing ‘inoteca to a new neighborhood."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Bar Milano: No More

Bar Milano, the fancy pants bar/restaurant on 24th St. and Third Ave. was rocking large on New Year's Eve, and then on January 1....POOF! Gone. Brown paper up on the windows, the name stripped off but from the front step. I didn't even get a chance to eat there yet it came and went so fast! Does anyone know what happened? A victim of a poor economy? Of a neighborhood overrun by NYU? Sanitation issues? Is it coming back? Anyone in the know please give the low-down.