August 15, 2010

Shop Til You Drop

This week, for work, I literally had to spend days (I know, poor me) and days shopping. Online, in department stores, and at boutiques throughout New York City. There were firm guidelines of what to look out for, but almost no budget...and the most interesting thing about the entire exercise was it allowed me to get a glimpse into how differently the wealthy shop compared to the way that I (and most of my friends) do. While these perks might seem common to you, dear reader, they are not part of my normal shopping experience.

Instead of messy sale racks and long queues for crowded sample sales, there are private dressing rooms, cool glasses of ice water served with a slice of lime on a silver tray, and a tailor and multiple sales staff attending to your every need. Sizes not on the floor are procured instantly, whether from the stock room or shipped overnight from the Chicago boutique. At select designer boutiques, regulars can be heard requesting that their favorite items be made in alternative fabrics, colors, patterns.

Besides being exceedingly pleasant, the experience made me really wonder about the rise of e-commerce within the luxury sector. Finally, I understand first-hand the hesitation that so many designers and fashion houses had (and that some still hold) about selling their wares online. As lovely as sites like Net-A-Porter and Barneys.com are, for the most dedicated clientele the experience can't exactly compare to the attention and assistance they are given when they stop by their favorite boutique. No matter how pretty the shipping box may be.

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