Jun 4, 2008

The Price of Clothes

Eric Wilson says they cost less now than in 1998:
Clothing is one of the few categories in the federal Consumer Price Index in which overall prices have declined — about 10 percent — since 1998 (the cost of communication is another). That news may be of solace to anyone whose budget has been stretched just to drive to work or to stop at the supermarket; in fashion, at least, there are still deals to be had. An anecdotal price comparison by Thursday Styles for 31 name-brand clothing items — such as Calvin Klein underwear, a Chanel tweed cardigan, a pair of L’eggs pantyhose, Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses and a wool crepe jacket from Anne Klein — would seem to demonstrate that while luxury prices have outpaced inflation, lower-priced clothes have generally experienced deflation... The fashion and retail industry fear that the appeal of price, for consumers of both mass and luxury goods, is becoming a more important factor in decisions about what to buy than desire, which has been the driving mechanism behind the growth of fashion and luxury for decades.

“We as a business cannot afford to have a customer take a second look and ask, ‘Do I need this?’ ” said Bud Konheim, the chief executive of Nicole Miller. “That is the kiss of death. We’re finished, because nobody really needs anything we make as a total industry.”

Hats off to Mr Konheim for his honesty! Or maybe he would prefer us to put hats on, especially if they were expensive and impulsively purchased!

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