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Designer recession

Let us start 2009 with something positive that the recession might have given us, writes Jaydeep Ghosh.

fashion and trends Updated: Jan 03, 2009 20:14 IST
Jaydeep Ghosh
Jaydeep Ghosh
Hindustan Times

Let us start 2009 with something positive that the recession might have given us. A friend of mine, who was in Paris for the New Year, was so thrilled about scoring a Gaultier dress at a 40% discount that she shouted in excitement over the phone, “I have never seen that – bargain hunting at Gaultier! It’s like shopping on eBay.”

She had good reason to be surprised because such ‘haute’ bargains are usually reserved for the super-rich or celebrities. But thanks to the recession, luxury has come within reach of the more ordinary shoppers, like my friend.

The sublime world of couture has been affected and fashion labels are giving discounts under the garb of ‘private sales’. In fact, Kaiser Lagerfeld too has cut down the entourage of Humvees that he used to travel with, and now Chanel is cutting down on jobs. Back home, every luxury brand is offering lucrative discounts and mind you, these are not on previous season’s stocks. So all of you who had been eyeing that Zegna suit or the pretty Marc Jacob dress, it’s time to do some bargain hunting.

Even during the Great
Depression in the US, high-end retail had managed to do good business. Saks and Tiffany had flourished. But now, shops like Saks and Neiman Marcus seem unable to keep their core customers. Women who wanted to be the first to sport the new $10,000 handbag are no longer rushing to put their names on the list. My friend in Paris who loved the bargain deal at Gaultier said, “There were sale signs on most of the high-end shops. It looked as if the masses had taken over Hermès and Vuitton. The sales staff were staring blankly, as they tend to do when they know the wrong people have invaded the shop.”

The recessionary mood has also brought forth a new trend, that of ‘reverse snobbery’. Who is a reverse snob? As per the dictionary, a reverse snob (noun) is a person overly proud of being one of or sympathetic to the common people, and who denigrates or shuns those of superior ability, education, social standing, etc.

Yes, the usual snobs are turning into reverse snobs. Isn’t that great? Nowadays, there is lot of talk about how the rich should behave (financial crisis notwithstanding). Many feel that the rich are avoiding ostentatious consumption. But then we have the likes of Anil Ambani, whose fortune, according to Forbes, dropped from $42 billion to $12 billion, and he still gifts Tina a $400 million yacht. But Anil Ambani apart, most rich people are in the mood for ‘reverse snobbery’.

If you admire a lady’s outfit, she will, of course, say that she bought it years ago, well before the financial crisis — a classic case of reverse snobbery. But there are those who buy a little less for themselves and something fancy for the dog, like a designer stepladder so the pet can climb onto his owner’s bed. Extremely high beds are apparently very popular among the wealthy but very difficult for their chihuahuas to scale.

But some fiscal pundits feel that if people don’t spend, the economy will get into a vicious cycle of depression. Yes, I whole-heartedly agree with them. So all you richie-rich people, you better loosen you purse-strings, be it for yourself or for your dog!

First Published: Jan 03, 2009 18:31 IST