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Richflation

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The Bush legacy continues.  From Women's Wear Daily:

Spend, Spend, Spend:  Luxury Retailers Predict Boom for Holiday

Wal-mart might be having a tough holiday seasonn so far, but at the luxury end of the spectrum, over-the-top extravagence seems to be the name of the game.

Just ask Gucci, which has people clamoring for its $29,800 baby blue crocodile Positano handbag.  "It hasn't even hit the stores and we have preorders," said a spokeswoman.  "it will besold out by the time it comes in."  

Nor have shoppers blanched at the $7,200 cost of Oscar de la Renta's tortoisshell clutch — it's a bestseller.

Polo Ralph Lauren reported a waiting list for the Ricky bag in gold crocodile, priced at $14,000. 

My friend Linda M. who works as a fashion designer calls the phenomenon she is seeing on the retail front "richflation," where the prices people are willing (and able) to pay for high-end luxury goods are increasing at a precipitous rate:

James Hurley, luxury goods analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, said this holiday season seems to be characterized by extraordinary products with breathtaking prices.  "You need that thype of over-the-top, hyper-exclusive merchandise to set the aspirational tone," he said. "It speaks to the fact that the bar gets raised higher and higher each year, especially for brands throught of a s luxury resources.  If you're selling a $300 wallet and $600 handbag, you have to raise the bar for the customer to stay interested."

"Everything points to the luxury category gaining share of the wallet this holiday season," Hurley said.  "In terms of the growth rate for the holiday season for publicly traded retailers, our forecast is an 8 percent sales increase.  For luxury retailers, we're looking for a 15 percent increase.

"We've had the best week we've had in seven years," said Diane Levbarg, executive vice president of Missoni USA.  "I'm in a very upbeat mood."

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Hermes best-selling items early in the  season have been scarves, ties and enameled bracelets, according to Robert Chavez, president and chief executive officer of Hermes USA.

"People are coming in and buying multiples — 40 or 50 of an item — as gifts," he said.  "All types of high-luxury items are selling well.  We have a sable-trimmed scarf that's done extremely well.  Diamond watches and diamond jewelry and anything iin exotic skins — crocodile, ostrich and lizard — are off to a strongn start.  We had a very strong post-Thanksgiving weekend, and we're very optimistic about the holiday season."

The evidence is only anecdotal of course, but it would appear that while middle class folks are counting out their pennies at
Wal-Mart, nobody is paying much attention to the tragedy of so much money flowing to the top that the Bush tax cut beneficiaries must claw at each other to get at ever gaudier and more overpriced handbags. 

And I thought the whole "Greed is Good" Reganomics era was some sort of ethical nadir.  I was wrong. 

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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