6 percent in 2006, the wealthy have enjoyed double

Super rich seek new heights in pampering

NEW YORK Forget about the $350 stilettos. Shoes with status these days come with $1,000 price tags. And $600 handbags have become so bourgeois. A listers don’t want to be seen with anything costing less than $5,000.

It’s no secret that luxury sales have been booming over the past six years. But at a time when the average American is grousing about meager wage growth and feeling strapped by a 30 cent spike in the price of gas, splurging by the wealthy has risen to gaudy proportions as the super rich seek new heights in pampering, price tags and one of a kind items that set Fake Louis Vuitton Replica Bags them apart. over the past two decades. store executives say that the weakening dollar has fueled a surge of tourists from Asia and emerging countries like Russia, whom experts say tend to go for the bling, luxury stores don’t have to just wait for foreigners. Sure, investment bankers and Internet entrepreneurs have kept luxury sales booming, but the latest source of new wealth are hedge fund managers the top 25 last year made more than a combined $14 billion a year, according to Institutional Investor.

And unless there’s another major geopolitical event that sends shoppers hibernating, experts believe luxury spending growing at double digit rates for many high end purveyors won’t lose momentum.

Some social experts warn the trend will only increase tensions between the haves and have nots.

The over the top splurging is fake designer bags happening at a time when the income gap between the wealthy those making more than $350,000 and everyone else is the widest since the Depression Era. And while the average American worker’s income increased 4.6 percent in 2006, the wealthy have enjoyed double digit gains.

There’s some trickle down effect too. Waiters at tables with $3,000 tabs get fake louis bag their share of big tips. But as Carl Steidtmann, chief economist at Deloitte Research says, the biggest beneficiaries are artisan and small trade businesses, which are seeing the market expand as Americans’ appetite for rare items increases.

According to Carol Brodie, chief luxury officer at CurtCo Media, the publisher of the Robb Report, whose annual issue features the year’s best of the best like a $330,000 Mikimoto golden pearl choker, the super rich don’t want just the expensive. What they are looking for is the rarest item, something that is custom made and the best quality. Unlike high quality replica handbags china the 1980s and 1990s, “it’s not about the logos,” she said. “It shouts quietly.”

Nevertheless, the price tags seem loud.

Montblanc recently sold a $700,000 plus pen just a few days after it showed up in the New York store. The pen, adorned with rubies, sapphires and diamonds, took 15 months to handcraft. Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica At Cartier, $1 million to $2 million sales checks rare only a few years ago is occurring a couple times a month at its North American boutiques.

Frederic de Narp, CEO and president of Cartier North America, said the largest bill tallied by a customer on a single visit last year topped $11 million. He would not give specifics on the purchase.

And Bulgari reports that single purchases in the millions of dollars are becoming more common in the States as replica louis vuitton handbags well.

Louis Vuitton this spring pre sold its limited number of $40,000 plus handbags made up of a patchwork of samples high quality designer replica handbags from different spring and summer collections.

The bags cost replica louis vuitton only slightly less than the median household income of $46,326, as reported by the Census replica designer handbags Bureau.

Even Coach Inc., whose bags average $300, is extending its reach to the next tier. Last year, the handbag cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk maker introduced a collection of limited edition $10 cheap louis vuitton bags from china ,000 crocodile handbags.

Designers and retailers are also going to new lengths to cater to these wealthy buyers Tom Ford’s new store in Manhattan has a butler who aaa replica designer handbags will bring drinks or order lunch.

With luxury merchants generating at least $8,000 in revenue per square foot about 10 times what a middlebrow retailer takes, according to Consolo, these boutiques can afford the frills. But these stores can’t afford to be snooty about who they serve.

As luxury companies expand their stores or open new ones in such major cities as New York, Las Vegas and Washington, and reach out into wealthier towns like Chevy Chase, Md., they have to be careful about giving all customers who walk in the door the VIP treatment. Even celebrities seem like to shop in Juicy Couture sweats.

“Stores have to be more welcoming regardless of who they are,” said Jim Taylor, vice chairman of the Harrison Group, a marketing consultancy. He noted that based on a comprehensive Harrison study on the wealthy, most of the well heeled interviewed say they have not been treated well.

Nevertheless, the prices on luxury goods keep going up as stores don’t see any consumer resistance. The dollar’s weakness against the Euro has also made European goods more expensive here. According to Kelly Bensimon, founding editor of Elle Accessories, only a few years ago, the must have bag retailed for $500; now the “it” bags go for well over a $1,000.

Trend experts say the shoe designer du jour is Christian Louboutin, whose prices top $1,000 most likely beyond the reach of most upper middle class women seeking to splurge.

“Whether it’s a handbag, shoe, or watch, the price of keeping up has gone up dolabuy.su ,” said Bensimon. “In order for you to be that woman, you have to have a serious bank account.”

Allison Weiss Brady, 36, a venture capitalist and philanthropist who is on the board of her family foundation, said she likes to be practical when buying handbags preferring to buy bags in basic colors. Still, she spends $20,000 per season on accessories and typically spends $5 Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags ,000 per bag, much more than the $2,000 she used to spend a few years ago.

Among Brady’s most prized finds recently are a pair of $11,000 earrings at Judith Ripka and a multicolored lizard Fendi handbag for $4,960.

Keri Frame, director of stores at Wynn Las Vegas, who oversees the 22 Wynn owned stores in the luxury resort including Manolo Blahnik, Gaultier and a Ferrari dealership agreed that increasingly customers are looking for items almost no one else has.

Frame noted that it takes four years to make Jean Dunand watches sold at Wynn Co. Jewelry, and 16 were made this year. Wynn has sold four of those ranging in price from $350,000 to $575,000 so far this year.

That leaves the hoipolloi who want to have the latest runway item feeling inadequate, or going into debt to try to keep up.

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