Who buys $550 khakis, anyway?

You may have read a recent New York Times article about men’s khakis retailing for $550…RetailWire panelists took their turn analyzing this kind of consumer behavior. Here’s my point of view:

$550 pants aren’t “about” being rational, any more than a $2000 handbag or a $90,000 sports car. It’s really about the luxury market returning to the mindset where customers feel they have “permission” for these kinds of indulgences. The same trend is showing up in the luxury hotel trade, which took the biggest hit during the depth of the recession and is now the fastest-growing segment. I’d guess that “status marketing” is the best angle for selling products like these, instead of adapting to the “new normal,” where it would be tougher to justify the “permission” mindset in the first place.

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