As the Middle Class Dissolves, Do Mid-Priced Brands Go, Too?

Over the past few years, it seems like "luxury" has become the new standard. We remember a time when the $200 jeans we now own would have made us thi
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Over the past few years, it seems like "luxury" has become the new standard. We remember a time when the $200 jeans we now own would have made us thi
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Over the past few years, it seems like "luxury" has become the new standard. We remember a time when the $200 jeans we now own would have made us think there was a typo on the price tag, and the $800 boots we’re considering buying would have seemed like a practical joke. And while there have been a lot of complaints about oversaturation in the market ($275 headband, anyone?) it looks like what’s even considered luxury might change once again. The luxury market is splitting. Amid recent reports of department store slowdowns and Van Gogh paintings failing to sell at auction, there is talk of the two different types of luxury- “affordable luxury” versus “genuine luxury-” experiencing two different types of sales. Stores selling mostly “affordable luxury,” like Nordstrom and Macy’s, have seen a steep decline, while Saks and Neiman Marcus, both considered vendors of “genuine luxury” have seen a significant rise. So while Juicy Couture and Coach aren't getting bought, Hermes bags and Balenciaga pants still have wait-lists. The new economic trend poses a big threat to the way women are shopping right now - If "affordable luxury" brands go under, then we can either shop way up (Chloe jeans!) or way down (Old Navy jeans!). And for millions of women used to living in Barneys Coop, that's going to be a problem. Also: What does this economic slow-down mean for companies like Banana Republic and J Crew, whose prices are already too high? --NATALIE HORMILLA