Service of Fashion

December 3rd, 2012

Categories: Fashion

I’ve been a discount shopper and fashion lover since I can remember and to this day scratch my head when I see, mixed in with fairly nice clothing and accessories at value prices or deep dish reductions, junky looking stuff with too many frills, folds and shiny add-ons that make a purse, shoe or blouse look tacky and literally cheap.

Apart from the obvious fact that all shoppers are not me and that some don’t appreciate that simple always looks better, I’ve wondered for years why it’s cheaper to add ugly embellishments than to leave a garment or accessory alone.

While this fashion gap still exists–I noticed it when buying a handbag recently–it’s shrinking, perhaps spurred by the economy.

Friday I got an email from Target that its collaboration with Neiman Marcus would launch the next day. The 50 budget-priced, limited edition clothing, accessories and home items, made by top designers, will be for sale at both stores and range from knit caps and a jewelry box to a yoga mat and more. Lauren Sher listed some of the designers in her coverage “Neiman Marcus Holiday Pop-Up Shop.” They include: Diane von Furstenberg, Jason Wu, Tory Burch, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera, Rag & Bone, Brian Atwood, Alice + Olivia, Proenza Schouler, and Marchesa.

In another example, I recently visited the newest Manhattan branch of the Japanese chain Uniglo on Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street. There, at very reasonable prices, I saw thousands of square feet filled with neatly stacked or hanging coats, sweaters, gloves, scarves, tee shirts and more in generous selections of colors at remarkably reasonable prices. There was barely a pattern in the store that sold children, men and women’s fashion and nary an extraneous embellishment or ornament of any kind. What a relief! And the Caucasian cashier handed me back my credit card in the Japanese fashion with a slight bow and both hands holding the edges of the card.

Can you tell me why so many value-priced manufacturers have for years felt that more is more? Have you also noticed a trend to sell simple things at modest prices?

4 Responses to “Service of Fashion”

  1. Hester Craddock Said:

    I was delighted to read the good news that it will become easier for people on limited budgets to find fashionable clothing and accessiories to buy at reasonable prices, but I’ve got a question?

    If someone like me can afford something, how can it possibly be fashionable? I thought that what made something fashionable was that it was so expensive that only fashionable people could afford it. If everyone can own something, then it will stop being fashionable.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hi Hester,

    I wonder if you are thinking “couture” when you see the word “fashion.”

    In any case, with technology, hours after a famous bride walks down the aisle or a famous actor walks down a red carpet, copy-cat fashion houses are off to the races to introduce a look-alike gown at bargain prices.

    I’ve always marveled at how fashionable Italian and French women look. Many have one terrific suit and a scrumptious bag and great shoes, fabulous hair and makeup and voila! I saw a 50-something woman last night who thought she was fashionable with her knee-high leopard boots and tights and wooly vest, hugely long and fluffy, frizzy hair, two-inch long painted nails and gold oversized bag. I’m sure that the ensemble cost a fortune but to me, she looked closer to fortune teller than fashion plate.

    Guess what I’m saying is that money doesn’t make someone fashionable. Taste helps a lot.

  3. Kathleen Fredrick Said:

    Two somewhat relevant items come to mind. I recently read about Jamie Lee Curtis having a wardrobe of items in black white and/or grey. Simple, unadorned but stylish items are what she chooses. Maybe the consumer is dictating to the fashion houses. Also, I recently ordered two men’s shirts on line from Nordstom’s. They were simple button-down shirts, very reasonably priced for Nordstrom’s and had lots of reviewers’ comments about the excellent wear, style, fit, etc. of the shirts. Again, simplicity seems to rule and be the preference of consumers.

  4. jeanne Byington Said:

    Kathleen,

    Ms Curtis must travel a lot. Dressing as she does helps keep a light suitcase!

    I bet the weight constraints re air travel have their effects on fashion. People tend not to notice a plain outfit worn three times as much as a flashy suit or dress. No wonder scraves are still popular!

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