Category Archives: Shopping

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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Curtains: Making the best decision for your budget.

Today as I hibernate indoors away from the 90º heat and ultra humidity I am working on my curtains.  One thing about being on a budget in designing your space is having to make sacrifices on the things you want, for the things you need.  As for now, I’m spending money on having my AC blasted while saving money on paying someone to sew my curtains.  Curtains can be extremely expensive, even if you’re doing it on your own.  One thing is for sure, I could not pay for someone to sew my drapes for me, but even the cost of all the materials needed, was a bit of a surprise to me.  I know I wouldn’t want anything pre-made from the catalogues because I wouldn’t say that my style isn’t cookie cutter.  So when coming up with curtain ideas, I first thought about the basic elements that I wanted the pattern to have.  Those elements include, being classic yet relevant for today, lots of movement, colorful, and whimsical and lastly, a larger repeat.  Next I picked through tears sheets and my design library.  That led me to an old Domino article that I had saved about chintz and floral fabrics, which I loved.

I also found a tear sheet I had saved from a Brunschwig & Fils Bird and Thistle advertisement.  This fabric fit the bill perfectly, but costing over $100 per yard, I knew I couldn’t afford it at full price.

So my first choice was to wait for it to go on sale, but after a few months of not seeing it on my favorite discount websites, I had to settle for something else.  I researched several companies and fabrics, ordered lots of swatches, as you can see below.  I ended up chosing the fabric on the top left of the below montage.

It’s from Calico Corners, the name is Darjeeling, It was $19.00 p/yard.  When I ordered it from the website I didn’t think I would like it, but the pattern and the colors coordinate perfectly in my livingroom.  It also has the closest resemblance to the Brunschwig fabric.  In long run, I think having to source out other options has given me a better result. It’s a good thought to take with you when shopping around in the future.  To have the best design I think you really have to do your research, and probably not jump on the first thing you like, because you may regret those purchases later.

The one concern I had in the beginning about making my curtains myself was, if I could do it or not.  To be honest it’s not hard, it just takes a lot of time and patience. I found a great post from the blog Design Sponge that was a major help in the sewing process.  If you’re interested in that post please click {here}.  I’m pretty sure I re-posted this article several months ago when I was still researching fabrics, but it doesn’t hurt to post it again!

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Parisian Flea Market

Visited the Clignancourt flea market in Paris on our trip and I must say I was a little disappointed. It’s really hard to find any deals or anything worth taking home.  I did find this one vendor who’s visual displays and “visual merchandising” techniques (that sounds a little strange for a flea market), were amazing.  The name on the business card she gave me is:  Tombées du Camion.  Here are a few images from her shop.

I bought one of those green twisted bead necklaces. This shop would be heaven for jewelry designers or just anyone who would like to make crafty little things out of odds and ends.

I really wanted to buy one of those glass eyes, but I couldn’t think of anything I could use them for. . . Now I wish I had just bought them.  The next few images are from shops that I found while walking through the giant maze.

Beads galore!

Wouldn’t these be so fun to make. Chanel Russian dolls!

Last year when I went to the Flea Market in the south of Paris I had better luck. I guess because it’s smaller and the lesser known of the markets, I was able to get better deals and it was much less picked over.  Last year I found my brother a few ties and a belt and scarf for myself.  Of course at each market there is plenty of wonderful furniture, but the deals do not outweigh the cost of the shipping.

All photos taken by: Lauren Gries

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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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fourth floor walk up . . . for real

It’s hot now in New York, and Muggy and gross. My fourth floor apartment is especially hot, and muggy and gross.  It really doesn’t help that we’re the top floor, all the heat escapes from the roof in the winter and the sun bakes us in the summer.  Yesterday I sent the ‘ol boyfriend to Home Depot to buy us a ceiling fan. Yes, they’re ugly and sometime gross too, but they really do help, especially when you’re watching your budget, (and the environment) and you do not want to turn the AC on.  Last summer I found a beautiful solution to an ugly problem, with a price tag of $47.97 in New York City you can’t go wrong with this fan.  The simple white globe light is included (it does not look that yellow) and it is really easy to install.

To Order: HomeDepot.com

Well I wouldn’t quite call it beautiful, but the fan is unobtrusive to a room and it works well when you use it in a smallish room – my living room is 12′ x 12′ and my kitchen is 10′ x 12′.

Fan pictured in my living room:

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I’m back!

From Seattle!

This past week my boyfriend and I took a lovely vacation to sunny (yes! while we were there) Seattle!  We must have brought the sun with us because New England had the rainiest week in years.  Our visit entailed visiting all of the lovely shops that I’ve read about through blogs and eating tons of wonderful vegetarian and vegan food. I really couldn’t believe the amounts of veggie restaurants! Please see photos of our adventures below.

A typical bum or backpacker. We honestly couldn’t tell the difference.

These stones were near Pioneer Square I think.

Near Pioneer Square

This fabulous dog was hanging out in the store Baby & Co. Which by the way, had really awesome displays.

Seattle Public Library

In the Womb at the library

At Pike’s Place Market

Even though this place is very touristy, I love how it reminded me of the open markets in Paris.

Beautiful and Cheap Flowers!

The disgusting yet vibrantly colored gum wall.

Ports with the mountains in the background

Gasworks Park at night

I think my favorite neighborhood i Seattle is Ballard, it is the old port town of the city.  So quaint with great shops.  If you’re ever in the area, you should definitely check out Lucca, Souvenir, Dolce Vita, The Field House, and Blackbird and we had a great brunch at Señor Moose Café!  You can go down to the Locks to see the Salmon migrating and walk around the beautiful Botanical Gardens.

Dog treats!

This is the storefront of Souvenir, it mostly sells handmade cards and jewelry. The merchandise is so beautiful and so are the displays. The owner Curtis Steiner, makes everything himself. Great place for visual merchandising inspiration.

The Locks.

The Field House has a great concept and they do such a great job with defining their brand and customer. I love the displays and the styling, if I have the funds I would definitely buy too many good for my boyfriend from here.

I didn’t take any photos of the storefront and I can’t find any, but here is their cute little logo and signage that sits in front of the store.

Blackbird also has a great little candy shop at the corner of the block, you can read about its opening on here http://helloblackbird.blogspot.com/2009/08/second-born-blackbird-candy-shoppe.html

On our last day we made a trip out to Snoqualmie Falls.  Only 30 to 40 mins outside of the city there are mountains, waterfalls, and nature galore.

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U.E.S. (Upper East Side) 2nd hand shopping

Thrift stores abound on the UES! Not too many know this about the district with one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country. But yes, not only are there are great 2nd hand designer stores, there also are great thrift stores.  In this installment of the UES I will focus on the less expensive thrift stores that you will find in the neighborhood. However, if you can’t wait to explore this neighborhood and would love to check out the designer resale stores, you check out the handy-dandy map I’ve created.

This image was taken from the HW website. It’s a photograph of the 17th street location.

As seen on the map numbers 1 & 8, the Housing Works Thrift-shops are my favorite thrift stores!  Not only are there great articles of vintage and second hand clothing, many designers will donate overstock or samples to these stores.  Sometimes even the original tags are on the pieces. I have found Marc Jacobs shoes, dresses and tops with the original price tags. I also bought a brand new pair of Cheap Monday jeans there.  Housing Works also offers great furniture, hence my couch that bought there. It was still wrapped in the plastic, an overstock item from some furniture company. It’s a pullout couch, wool fabric with bolsters with a low price of $400!  The two Louis XV style chairs I also picked up from there for . . . $75 ea.!

On the UES there are two Housing Works locations. One on 90th and 2nd avenue and the other on 77th street between 3rd and 2nd avenue.  I tend to find better deals at the 90th one because I’m convinced the people who price the product don’t know its worth. I’ve bought all of my furniture and artwork from this location because of that.  But there are always lines before the store opens on weekends. There are definitely cat fights at this location too! Its intense. The 77th street location is great for clothing, the last time I went I bought a BCBG Maxazria blazer for $30 and a J.Crew wool blazer for $8 (because it didn’t have a price tag and the girl at the register charged what she thought it was worth).

photo found here.

2. The Arthritis Foundation Thrift Shop expels the perfect musty-mothball-grandma thrift store smell.  Although I haven’t found anything here yet, there is a good selection of both men’s and women’s clothing.

PRELOVED A Designer Room volunteer shows off choice offerings, including a Thierry Mugler suit.

Photo found here.

3. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Thrift Shop is a very large thrift store that is well organized.  You’ll never know what gems you’ll find here. Sometimes a little over priced, the best time to go is during the 1/2 off  sales. One time as I was passing by, I noticed the same exact pinched pleat drapes that my mother had.  It was so odd because hers were custom made!  This is the photo I took from my IPhone.  She could not believe it! (see below)

4. & 9.  The Spence-Chapin Thrift Shop is a store that I have not yet explored myself.  I have heard great things about it though.

According to  The New York Magazine Shopping Section the “Spence and Chapin, long bastions for the education of New York’s blueblood feminine heirs, sponsor thrift shops to support the Spence-Chapin organization’s considerable good works in the larger community, mainly by recycling the high-end, high-quality cast-offs of elegant, label-happy UES moms. The jam-packed store donates thousands of dollars every month to charity, earned from the sale of near-new castoffs like Prada and Miu Miu dresses, Carolina Herrera leather totes, and Marc Jacobs peacoats, all at half their one-time retail price—or less. Granted, the gently worn clothes can be a season or two behind, but how much does a year matter when you’re talking Lacoste polos or lined Ralph Lauren gray flannel slacks? The shop is organized by category, with men’s clothing towards the back and women’s offerings crammed onto racks that line the whole space; a selection of furniture—heavy on the kitchen tables and chairs—is also available. The shop is usually crowded with both merchandise and people; shop early for the best picks. While the jaundice-suggestive fluorescent lighting could be better for choosing among the used Luca Luca gowns, shopping at the Spence-Chapin thrift shop is worth it for the bargains alone. Sadly, no schoolgirl uniforms are for sale.” — Faran Alexis Krentci

That sounds great to me.  I’ll definitely be checking out this gift shop very soon!

Read more: Spence-Chapin Thrift Shop – – Upper East Side – New York Store & Shopping Guide http://nymag.com/listings/stores/spence-chapin-thrift-shop01/#ixzz0iBo7bHfv

5.  At the Cancer Care Thrift Shop you’ll find, after some scrounging and digging, designer brands with the tags still on them along with some cute costume jewelry, and handbags.  All proceeds benefit CancerCare‘s free, professional services for people with cancer and their loved ones.

6. I’ve never made it to the Council Thrift Shop because they’re hours are 11-4:45 and closed on Sundays.  But according to reviews, for a thrift store it can be a little pricey.  One reviewer from Yelp.com ended up buying a Krups espresso machine for $17.00 though.

7.  The Goodwill store is one of the larger stores that is definitely lower priced then the UES thrift stores because most of the people who tag the items do not know who’s who and what’s what when it comes to designers.  In the past I’ve bought a few Ralph Lauren Purple label blazers for $8.  Upstairs is the mens department, where nice button-down dress shirts can be found. Last week, my boyfriend found this really nice flannel. It was a weird no-name brand “Criminal Damage” (we had a chuckle) but its a great plaid and nice colors.  The store is well known for putting their better pieces in the window displays. Once a month or sometimes biweekly on Saturday mornings the store will sell the goods via first come first serve.  If the merchandise is worth it, there will be a line down the block. This store is definitely worth looking into.

The original article from the New York Times, published on June 10, 2009, features the Goodwill stores. The location in the picture is of the Chelsea store.  That’s another neighborhood with great vintage finds. The Chelsea installment is coming soon!

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