December 6, 2009
November 11, 2009
Those gen y consumers who still want that $1400 dress, and aren’t willing to downgrade to a $400 or $40 version do indeed have some options.
Luxury sample sale sites like Gilt Groupe and RueLaLa are flourishing while physical retail stores take a hit. They offer deep discounts on designer items, and play to a sense of exclusivity desired by both brands and consumers.
Andrea Graber, the manage of marketing and communications for Gilt Groupe believes that the relevance of labels in quite simple. She said,
“Even in these difficult times, consumers still entertain the idea of introducing that next piece of luxury into their closets/homes. Gilt Groupe enables them to access their sought after brands at a reasonable and affordable price. What could be more appealing?”
In order to shop the sales, or even to enter the websites, potential customers must become registered users. The catch is, a potential member must be invited by a current member. While memberships are free, luxury sample sites play into the power of good connections.
This model of exclusivity has made the sites more appealing to luxury labels that are typically weary of selling online at a website other than their own, or online at all. These brands fear that doing such things will cause them to lose their cachet. But, since luxury sample sites are password protected, sales don’t come up in search engines, something they believe has the potential to cheapen a designer’s reputation.
Once a user registers with a luxury sample sale site, she receives a weekly calendar of sales, and daily e-mails once a sale begins. Sales typically last between 36 and 48 hours, which contributes to the “get it before it’s gone” mentality.
All that said, I find that Gilt and RueLaLa tend to inflate the original prices in order to trick consumers into thinking they are getting a better deal than they are. I’m not sure if this is legal, and it’s certainly not ethical. But, it works. Gen y women want recognizable labels to feel that they’re getting something special. In addition to saving their bank accounts some stress, deep discounts, real or imagined, do just that.
November 9, 2009
What girl wouldn’t want a walk-in closet to store her array of designer gowns? Who doesn’t dream of a world where money is no issue, and a $3000 dress for one fabulous night is a reality? Rent the Runway can’t quite make this dream come true, but it can bring women a little closer.
When bridge lines aren’t enough to satisfy gen y’s craving for luxury, there are other options. One, Rent the Runway, officially launches Monday. Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Carter Fleiss, two Harvard Business School graduates, buy pieces directly from designers and offer rentals at approximately ten percent of retail prices. After the four night loan, customers drop their garments in a prepaid envelope and drop it in the mail.
The New York Times calls Rent the Runway a “a recession-era twist on the Internet rent-by-mail model.” I these it as a twist on Bag, Borrow, or Steal, Inc., an website through which women can rent luxury accessories – handbags, sunglasses and jewelry. But, Rent the Runway faces a problem that Bag, Borrow, or Steal doesn’t: fit. Although Rent the Runway sends garments in two sizes, that’s no guarantee of a dress hugging and hanging in all the right places.
By making the service invitation only, the founders of Rent the Runway have lent it an air exclusivity. That’s key for gen y women who like to believe that their clothes are something special and that they are trendsetters. But, this fact devalues their claim that over 20,000 women have signed up. That doesn’t mean 20,000 women are using, or will ever use the company’s services.
Are finances so shaky and desires so high that gen y women are willing to take online shopping so far as Rent the Runway requires? Or, is the risk of an ill fit, or a dress that looked perfect online appearing different in person with no time to spare, too great?
November 6, 2009
The economy may be in the toilet, but gen y women aren’t about to quit shopping. While they may be looking for less expensive goods, those who carry Prada bags are not suddenly buying $10 copies on the street. Instead, gen y women are seeking affordable luxury.
Retailers are aware of this trend, and are working hard to tap into it. Coach, Inc., known for its luxury handbags, accessories and shoes has responded by introducing a lower priced line aimed at younger consumers. Ladies, check out Poppy.
Launched in fall 2009, the budget friendly collection is priced about 20 percent lower than the general Coach line. The colors are brighter, the styles are edgier, and the appeal more youthful. Prices range from $38 to $598. The average handbag will set you back $240.
Coach, aware of the power of the digital market among young women, spread the word about Poppy using means that they had not previously explored. Andrea Resnick, senior vice president of investor relations and corporate communication, explained,
“As important to the product is the marketing that went around it. We significantly changed our marketing, especially the digital side of marketing, to get the word out there to that generation. That meant taking over the fans of Coach page a young lady started. We now have 470,000 fans there. We’ve started on Twitter. Just before the Poppy launch, we partnered with several blogs. We showed the bloggers a preview of the product and let them talk on their blogs about it. That stirred a buzz. We worked more on the internet and used a digital way of talking to the consumer. We really took our marketing to a much more appropriate place for that gen y consumer and helped get the word out about Poppy that way.”
Now that Poppy has nailed down its customer base, here are some standouts from the line:
Between the shine of the materials and the chic amethyst color, this roomy bag is truly glam. Best of all, it doesn’t scream “Coach.” The label’s clearly there, but it leaves behind the obnoxious, in-your-face print that in today’s economic climate is just plain tacky.
Trina Ballet Flat
Okay, I admit it. I’m a sucker for patent leather. Available in black and grey, this shoe offers a microwedge for an invisible burst of poise and height. You may be the only one to see the signature leopard print lining, but the adorable-ness factor is worth noting. The silver Coach charm and ribbon bow add a dash of sweetness to an altogether elegant style.
Tartan Ponytail Scarf
When your hair is a disaster, it’s only natural to sweep your hair up into a ponytail. To upgrade your updo from the gym to the streets, tie in a punchy scarf. This bright, printed option will hide your hair tie, draw attention to your face, and spice up a monochrome outfit. Tired of wearing it in your hair? Loop it around the handle of your purse for the rest of the day.
While Coach’s profits fell for the most recent quarter, Poppy was a bright spot for the brand. Retailers, take note.
October 19, 2009
With the economy hurting, Americans are making all sorts of cutbacks. They’re going out to dinner less, embracing the staycation, and watching their leisure spending. I was also under the impression that they are shopping less.
This is, in fact, the case. According to NPD Group, a market research firm, apparel sales declined 6.3 percent between December 2008 and February 2009. But, during the same period, jean sales were up 2.3 percent. Here’s the kicker: in 2008, sales of premium denim, those jeans costing at least $100, were up 17 percent.
Kwesi Blair, a senior associate at Robert Burke Associates, a luxury fashion consulting firm, attributes these strong sales to denim’s versatility. When we spoke, he told me,
“Denim has become such a staple, so if people are going to invest in anything, they want to invest in something that can wear five to six out of seven days. It’s something they’re willing to put more money into. Part of it is also the appeal is seeing what denim represents you or represents some lifestyle. Although there are tons of different types of washes of denim, it’s funny to see which ones represent someone’s personality on some way.”
The sweet spot, so far as price range, is between $140 and $200. More has started to seem unreasonable. Less does away with the notion of luxury. That said, gen y is out buying designer denim. But, with so many options, what are they purchasing? For your edification, a guide to the major players of the moment:
7 for All Mankind
So far as I’m concerned, 7 for All Mankind launched the designer denim trend. Launched in 2000 when its founders noticed a void in the contemporary denim market, the brand took off immediately. Often referred to as “Seven” for short, the company also started the back pocket design trend. Check out the rear ends of series of stylish women on the streets of New York City, and you’re bound to see red pocket tags and the Seven squiggle.
Popular among models (and tall girls like myself) because of their long inseams, J Brand is responsible for bringing back the skinny jean. The company launched an exclusive at Ron Herman’s Melrose jeans bar in 2005, but didn’t explode in the mainstream for several years. J Brand’s coolness lies in its rejection of the trademark pocket design. Marked only by two, vertical, green stitches on the back of the waistband, the jeans are chic without being showy.
If you want to show the world that you can afford, and have donned designer jeans, True Religions are your best bet. The large back pocket design – the Japanese Hiragana character “hi,” a horeshoe like character – is impossible to miss. Also on the market since 2002, True Religion aims to create a more hippie, bohemian product. This is perhaps part of the reason I don’t wear the brand myself.
Citizens of Humanity
Originally started by the founder of, and as an offshoot of 7 for All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity jeans look much like, and are often lumped into a category with Sevens. Its pocket designs differs slightly, but Citizens and Seven tend to produce similar, medium wash, boot-cut styles. The kind of consumer – often an entry level member of the designer denim market – who wears Sevens will likely also be found in Citizens.
These brands may charge upwards of $150 for their most basic design but, unlike the washes of their jeans, they don’t appear to be fading away anytime soon.
October 16, 2009
October 14, 2009
Are we hooking up because we don’t have time to maintain serious romantic relationships, or even to date?
Generation Y is unarguably the most overscheduled generation in recent history. We spent our childhoods running between ballet and soccer practice, from gymnastics to piano lessons, from karate to boy scouts. Later, it was a matter of shuffling play rehearsals and SAT tutoring. Now, we find ourselves at classes one morning, campus jobs that afternoon, and our internship the next day. Where can we squeeze in a significant other?
In “Binge: What Your College Student Won’t Tell You,” author and longtime Time reporter Barrett Seaman stipulates that hooking up is simply easier than having a relationship. During our phone interview today, he elaborated:
“Maintaining a relationship takes work. There are ups and downs when you make a commitment. Your partner expects you to be at certain things, to be available and when you’ve got all these other things going on in your life, which you certainly do in college, that can become a drag or a distraction, at the very least. So, if you can get sexual gratification without having that burden, why not?”
Olivia, a Hamilton College junior, is evidence of Seaman’s claims.
“I don’t want a relationship where you have to spend every waking moment with the significant other and eat every meal with him and sleep over every night. I don’t have time for that. I have academics, extra-curriculars, and resume-building internships to worry about.”
But, people don’t get less busy after college. They may be balancing a lesser variety of things, but young professionals certainly aren’t spending hours curled up on their couches. Nonetheless, the vast majority of gen y-ers plan to get married in the decade following college. If we’ve never before put time into creating and nurturing a relationship, how will we learn to cultivate one that leads to marriage?
October 12, 2009
There’s a misleading title for you. But, it’s exactly what a lot of us went into college thinking. We heard otherwise, but thought we would be the exception. The truth is, those for whom it works out are the exception the exception. Sound confusing? It is.
I’m in the process of asking female college students to define the romance culture at their schools. It’s only right, albeit predictable, that this turns into a drawn out discussion of their romantic histories.
A Barnard College senior summed it up perfectly when I asked her how she fit into the romance culture at her college. She said,
“I try and avoid this scene as much as possible, having learned the mistakes of partaking during my freshmen year when I thought that hookups lead to true love. Lol. They don’t.”
I appreciate the “lol,” but feelings are no laughing matter. A Syracuse University junior said that she seeks a serious relationship. She explained her reasoning.
“Because I crave, more than anything, to feel loved, needed, appreciated, and the regular sex wouldn’t hurt, but it’s not the main priority.”
That isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of girls who go to a bar with their friends looking to meet a cute boy and have mind blowing, casual sex. But, I’m starting to see a pattern: as we get older, crazy, roller-coaster hook-ups get old too.
In a June survey, NPR found that while plenty of people consider hookups “fun,” almost as many find them either “degrading” or “dangerous.” Far less see hookups as “liberating” or “empowering.”
Eight years ago, the Independent Women’s Forum saw similar results in “Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right—College Women on Dating and Mating Today.” When asked to describe how they felt in the days following a hook up, 61% of women who chose “desirable” also chose “awkward.” This is murky territory.
What’s a girl to do?
October 7, 2009
In order to write a story, it’s usually a good idea for a journalist to define her terms. I, a student journalist, am in the early stages of a piece on hooking up, women, college, and what dating and romantic relationships mean in 2009. Problem is, no one can agree on a definition for “hooking up.”
For studies of contemporary culture. Urban Dictionary is an excellent starting point. However, even Urban Dictionary has 10 definitions of the term. It can’t decide how far hooking up involves going. The site tells us,
“Hooking up with someone, making out with them, but not going all the way.”
On the same page, it says,
“When 2 people kiss and/or fuck.”
Then, Urban Dictionary brings in the relationship question:
“When two people are making out and or having sex, which could lead to nothing or perhaps a relationship.”
A Google search that demands “define hooking up,” in quotation marks brings up almost 15,000 results. An image search for “hooking up” returns over a million. Our Facebooks are filled with friends’ photos of and statuses about hook-ups.
When it comes down to it, we, college students, are in no better shape the World Wide Web. We don’t know exactly what hooking up is. There isn’t a ritual to it. When we use it as a term to connote any sexual activity without a commitment or relationship, things become blurrier and more vague. What if it’s a long-term thing? What if your hook-up is your friend?
The questions keep coming, but where, and when can we find answers?
October 4, 2009
It’s pretty easy to see what’s going on here: as of about 2003, the percentage of 12th graders who say they “never date” surpassed that of those who say they “date frequently.”
Although I have no scientific data to back myself up, I would imagine that this contrast is even more pronounced amongst college students. But, young men and women undoubtably continue to interact on a physical and romantic level with the opposite sex. How?
There are no dinner dates, no trips to the movies and no days at the beach. Instead, there are text messages, vodka and sex. It’s the gen y version of dating.
At least that’s what the research tells us. I’m out to determine if it’s to be believed.