Is "Affordable Luxury" On The Way Out?
Umm... it could be. And that's not good for the Collection.
They posited that Americans with household incomes of $50,000 and above tend to “trade up” to high-end products in categories like kitchen appliances or bedding that are emotionally important to them, while perhaps pinching pennies elsewhere to compensate.
Dozens of chains rode this masstige wave, and earned billions in the process. Coach persuaded women to buy $400 handbags when a $60 version from Macy’s could have sufficed. Williams-Sonoma trained shoppers to covet a $35 stainless-steel hand-crank can opener, even though Wal-Mart sells a high-quality electric model for less than half the price. And 7 for All Mankind convinced people that they wanted a $200 pair of jeans made from the same material in a $30 pair of Wranglers.
Yes, it's yet another reference to 7 For All Mankind (from here on out referred to as "Seven") jeans. The bread-and-butter of "accessible luxury," they have become a fashion staple on affluent high school and college campuses. Easily identifiable by the presence of either an "A", a number "7", or a squiggly-line on the rear pockets, they have become the ultimate success story of the category. In Greater Boston and Chicagoland, Beyond Retail readers likely come across several pairs every day without realizing it.
*NOTE: Beyond Retail does not advocate looking at people's butts in an effort to determine the truth of the above statement, even if it is an effort to determine local retailing trends.*
If Sevens and other "accessible luxury" standards disappear, it's going to be hell for many retailers. Nordstrom will have no reason for existing. And what will the company's customers do? Do they immediately flip to buying $25 Lee or Levi's jeans from Sears instead?
And back to the local scene: what does this economic turn mean for the Natick Collection? It's really not good. The mall was designed around the "affordable luxury" customer, and if they're not going to be able to shop there, who will? Luckily, the Collection should be shielded from this collapse, at least initially. While there could very well be an exodus from the F wing for the mall's crossover customers from Natick and Framingham, the proximity of the Collection to some of the most affluent and "old money" neighborhoods in the state in communities including Weston, Dover, and Wayland should secure itself for the time being. As long as those communities don't fall apart overnight, the mall's clientele will still be around.
But perhaps JasmineSola closed just in time. We'll find out soon enough.