Category Archives: Fashion

Patrician or Poseur: How about neither?

I read an interesting article last week in my company’s newsletter.  Forbes.com published a Business Wire press release about how consumers are looking at luxury and designer brands in a different light these days.  The concept that  Sporting “Loud” Designer Logos Can Communicate Unintended Messages may be new to some when they decide to make that purchase on their new luxury handbag. 

The logo on your designer handbag or sports car may say far more about your social status and social aspirations than the brand name itself, according to a new study from the USC Marshall School of Business, which finds that luxury brands charge more for “quieter” items with subtle logo placement and discreet appeal. 

“Signaling Status with Luxury Goods: The Role of Brand Prominence”, a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Marketing and co-authored by USC Marshall School of Business doctoral student Young Jee Han and Joseph Nunes, associate professor of marketing at USC Marshall; with Xavier Dreze, associate professor of marketing at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, points to consumers who may not realize that shrieking designer logos actually reflect a lower price point than more subtle counterparts. Were our mothers right? Is less actually more?  

According to Nunes, “A significant segment of the population does not want to be branded, preferring to be understated and is willing to pay a premium to have ‘quiet’ goods without a brand mark.” 

Get this, the study identified four luxury-good consumer species, according to their preference for “loud” goods with prominently placed brand logos versus “quiet” goods, perhaps the little black dress equivalent of subtle status:
 

For the study, authors examined three categories of luxury goods — designer handbags, high-end vehicles and men’s shoes — with field experiments to survey consumers in a selection of Southern California shopping malls chosen for their demographics. These surveys were employed alongside an analysis of market data (including counterfeit goods) to reach the authors’ conclusions on status signaling. 

As I find these results to be pretty interesting, I’d like to use the example of handbags as well, by presenting these categories through women we may all know.  The categories are as follows: 

 

  • Patricians: “Wealthy consumers low in need for status” who “pay a premium for quiet goods, products that only their fellow patricians can recognize”


Great example of a Patrician: French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy 

 

  • Parvenus: “Wealthy consumers high in need for status who use loud luxury goods to signal to the less affluent that they are not one of them”

Kim Kardashian, need I say more? 

 

  • Poseurs, who lack the financial means to buy luxury goods, yet are highly motivated to buy counterfeit items to “emulate those who they recognize to be wealthy” (i.e., parvenus)

I have to say, I hate it when I see people on the street wearing fakes! In my opinion it’s so trashy.  This article is dead on because, when you see a person walking down the street with jeans from Conway, a shirt from Rainbow and a pair of Old Navy flip flops with a G-oach-i (that’s coach and gucci put together) bag. You know for sure that they’re bag is fake. Even if it was a good knock-off, the rest of the outfit speaks for itself.  If you can’t afford the bag, then you can’t afford it.  Save up, decide if its really worth the money, or find another brand that suits your income and rock that, but please don’t try to pretend! Or you’ll just be classified as a POSEUR. Photo pulled from MailOnline.com 

 

  • Proletarians, those with no drive for consumption

Now a photo of a Proletarian with a handbag was really hard to find, especially since handbags are a materialistic items in the first place. So I grabbed this one of Reese Witherspoon with the Whole Foods Feed Bag, where the profits from each bag are supposed to feed one impoverished child for a whole year.  I find it ironic though, how Whole Foods managed to turn something so useful and eco-friendly, like a reusable grocery bag into an object that is highly emotional necessity.  What I’m referring to is the “I’m not a Plastic Bag” designed by Anya Hindmarch. The bags were sold out in 29 mins (!) in Columbus Circle the day that they were released and later were selling for hundreds of dollars on Ebay. The worst part is that there were even knock offs of those bags! 

FINDINGS from the article. 

The study’s key findings include: 

— Luxury brands charge more for “quieter” items with subtle logo placement and size that appeal to patricians. The authors find that a price disparity of several hundred dollars can be based solely on how prominently marketers display the brand on a purse. 

— Counterfeiters predominantly copy the lower-priced, louder luxury goods, which appeal to the non-patrician status-seekers and rarely copy the higher-priced, subtle items. 

— Patricians were more apt to accurately rank the value of a luxury handbag. In contrast, non-patricians consistently ranked flamboyant bags as having higher value than the discreet bags that lacked the brand name but were priced higher. 

— Patricians were the least likely of the four groups to buy a flashy item, such as a handbag, while the parvenus and the poseurs were more likely to prefer it. Meanwhile, poseurs expressed a significantly greater intent to purchase a counterfeit bag than parvenus. 

For consumers, the study’s authors note the following irony: “While many parvenus believe they are saying to the world that they are not have-nots, in reality, they may also be signaling to the patricians, the group they want to associate with, that they are not one of them.” 

IMPLICATIONS FOR MARKETERS 

Based on their research, the authors recommend the following to managers in the luxury-good category: 

1. Develop a set of special signatures, or subtle cues, to distinguish the brand. For example, the authors cite Gucci’s use of bamboo on its products that says “Gucci” without employing a logo. Patricians recognize the signal, while non-patricians do not. 

2. Don’t make a brand ubiquitous. A luxury-goods manufacturer should resist the urge to popularize its trademark. If too many people sport the brand’s logo, the mark loses its value. Bottega Veneta is an example at one extreme, the authors say, with the logo appearing only on the inside of its products. 

3. Consider advertising to all consumers, not just the target market. For brands that appeal to everybody, the message must be aspirational not functional. 

4. Reassess the “pyramid” approach to luxury. Appealing to the creme de la creme to also lure less-sophisticated consumers doesn’t always work. 

For a copy of the study, please contact media relations at Marshall School of Business at amyblume@marshall.usc.edu. 

SOURCE: USC Marshall School of Business 

 

Now the question I find myself asking is, what if you’re non of these?  I know I’m not a Patrician, and I’m not running out to buy bags with exceptionally large logos to show off, nor am I buying knock-offs; but I’m definitely not a Proletarian, because I love shopping.  Is there a word for people who have taste and live on a lower budget? I know a lot of those! 

 

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Mad Men

AMC’s Mad Men is back this Sunday (July 25th), and like many other people I’m excited! It’s a cult phenomenon that has effected the country’s design aesthetic by inspiring us in the way we dress (please see Banana Republic [here] and QVC [here])

Raise the martini glass: Banana Republic and “Mad Men” are collaborating again. Photo courtesy of AMC/Banana Republic

and even the way we design our interiors (ie. Design Within Reach [here]). I mean haven’t you all noticed the resurgence of mid-century modern furniture in the past few years? Not only is this show full of beautiful people and interesting story lines, but also (in my opinion) it has one constant character, makes it so great.  The set design.

Photos courtesy of Interior Design Magazine and The New York Times, photographer: Carin Baer

The designer Amy Wells is wonderful with creating period interiors that feel authentic, and in some cases entirely modern.  Her work can also be seen in the beautiful film,  A Single Man. I must admit, I was very excited when I noticed the fabric on Charley’s headboard is the same kind I plan on using on my Louis Chairs!  

I found an interesting interview by Interior Design Magazine with Amy Wells, you can read Conquest of Cool [here].  I also read an article published in The New York Times this past Sunday called, Back to Work for ‘Mad Men’ [here] which discusses the changes that will be happening in the new season.  Can’t wait.

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Filed under Fashion, Home, Interiors

A Sport of Kings . . . . and princes and fashion models.

A few weekends ago my boyfriend and I went to the Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic on Governor’s Island, in NYC.  Even though it was unbearably hot and I was a part of the 8,000 +  visitors who didn’t get the free champagne, I had a great time.  A horse girl at heart, I will take advantage of any opportunity to be in the presence of horses; even if that means standing in the baking sun with a less than happy boyfriend for a few hours.  Luckily I was able to park the said boyfriend in the shade with his book and took to the side lines to catch the game as well as a few great pictures!

Everyone was dressed to impress with sun dresses and hats (some over-the-top). Others were head-to-toe in seersucker suits and ‘Veuve’ yellow.

The biggest draw of the event was getting the chance to see Prince Harry and Nacho Figueras (Ralph Lauren model) ride.  As many have heard, Prince Harry fell off his mount, I was fortunate in getting a some pictures of the tumble.
After this event I felt compelled to pull together an outdoor dining space that would be inspired by my experience.  Although I don’t have a yard of my own, I think these finds would make for a great casual outdoor dining area.  The main color story of black, white and yellow pull the space together, while the small accents of the seersucker prints, sun hat textures, and equestrian motifs add character to the space.  Maybe someday I can actually create a space using these elements, but for now I’ll just have to use my imagination.
Info on Collage Images: From Clockwise, Photograph taken from the Time Out NY “Own This City” blog.  Veuve Cliquot bucket, Umbrella – Target.  Garden screens & planters – Ballard Designs.  Straw Hat – Urban Outfitters.  Sisal Rug – Pottery Barn.  Dining Set – Pottery Barn.  Dinnerware – Bloomingdales. Fabrics – Calico Corners. Pillow – Williams-Sonoma Home.
Above photographs and collages by Lauren Gries, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fashion, Horses, New York

Scanning the globe for inspiration

I’ve been back home for only a few days and I’ve been really restless trying to figure out what it was that I “discovered” on my trip to Paris.  Last year it was the color red being the “red thread” but this year I was really unable to put my finger on something.  Spending time in a city where the world’s best trend forecasting companies are home based is a little intimidating, because I almost feel as though it is imperative to bring something back with me.  I found a few trends popping up, the vintage military jackets, straw hats, and of course the over saturation of the striped shirts, but overall the only creative feeling that I could gather from this city is the concept of minimalism.  Not the kind that you would imagine from the 90s era of fashion or the minimalist art movement, but more of the un-satisfaction of over-consumption.  In Paris clothing and styling is more simple, store windows are more simple, the attitudes of the French are more simplified.  Maybe this is something that has always existed in the Parisian culture, but it just feels like a return to naturalism . . . but in a modern sense.  Although I can just put myself in Sofia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette” when she so well visualizes the return to naturalism. But of course that came about after years and years of over-consumption, hence the revolution.

Photo from film found: weddingsinparisi.com

I think this minimalistic character is what I really like about Paris.  It’s so different from New York in that matter, even in NY we’re trying to be more natural and organic but it becomes a big deal and in a way unnatural, and like everything else in American culture the idea of being natural and organic is flaunted and commercialized, making the concept ironic.  Now I know I am generalizing here in many ways, but I am to trying to explain this feeling that I get from Paris, and essentially it’s really hard to.  With that said, I think I’ll lighten up and try present a few odds and ends of trends, (design-wise) that I captured while being in Paris.

1. military jackets: I saw so many women and men wearing these jackets, from young to old, and thin to thick (even though there aren’t a lot of thick women in Paris).  The most important styling detail of these jackets, you must roll up the sleeves!  When I tried mine on, the girl at the counter insisted on it and even motioned me to roll then pushing my sleeves up.  It was funny.

Chictopia.com has a little segment on this jackets, showing where you can buy them.  However, I know that Madewell was selling them at the end of last summer, because a lot of their designers use Paris as an inspiration, and they definitely just bought a bunch of those jackets in bulk and shipped to the states to sell for hundreds. I’m thinking one should just hit up the army navy stores for a better deal.

These jackets have oddly become the ‘it’ item of Paris and the best part is that they’re really cheap.  I bought one at “The King of Frip” which was actually below the apartment we stayed in.  This store had an entire rack dedicated to these jackets, all selling for only 10 euros a piece!  Now I was silly and forgot to take a photo of the front of the store but, The King of Frip is found @ 33 Rue du Roi de Sicile • 75004 Paris, France • 01 42 78 33 72 .  I found a beautiful photograph taken by the street blogger/photographer, Yanidel.

photo found here on Yanidel’s Blog ‘Street Photography in Paris’

2. Straw hats: while all the stores in the US are selling these hats, people in the States are not wearing, in Paris however, they are in full force and those ladies look effortlessly chic as they avoid sunburns and skin cancer.  That is something my boyfriend & I had a laugh over a few times, there were so many singed and burned Americans. Please put on some sunscreen!

Thank styleinthecity.com for these photos, and um that’s Karl Lagerfeld in the background of the pic.

3. Color: I saw a slight influence of the color turquoise in design in Paris, not as big as it is in New York.

More so I noticed the color combination of yellow and white popping up in design.  The image on the left is from the Givenchy 2010 Fall collection, the image on the right is a window display for a jewelry company, and the below image from Apartmenttherapy.com, a Parisian apartment.

More to come soon. . .

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Filed under Fashion, Paris, Shopping, Travel