From IHT: Even in recession, spend they must: Luxury shoppers anonymous

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I read an article published on that made my jaw drop – and not in a good way. I wanted to see other people’s reactions.

In short, the article is about the guilt rich people feel when shopping for extravagant items, and how a new niche market has been established, composed partly by invitation-only shopping events.

I’m all about enjoying the lovely things we have in this world – after all, why would they exist if we weren’t meant to enjoy them? However, when someone feels guilty about something, isn’t it worth exploring the reasons why and then dealing with the issue rather than ignoring it?

Even in recession, spend they must: Luxury shoppers anonymous

By Ruth La Ferla

Published on December 12th

Only a year ago, Maggie Buckley might have indulged a craving for, say, satin opera gloves or python sandals with a quick trip to Saks or Bergdorf Goodman. But now, in these recessionary times, she tends to avoid such public sorties.

“Shopping is almost embarrassing, and a little vulgar right now,” said Buckley, an editor at Allure magazine. Loath to be seen loading freezer-size parcels into the back of a waiting cab, she finds herself shopping at under-the-radar soirees in the homes of her friends.

Buckley is one in a coterie of shoppers turning their backs on conspicuous consumption but trawling for treasures nonetheless at invitation-only shopping events springing up in hotel suites, at private showrooms or in the well-appointed parlors of their peers. Feeling the pangs of conscience, they are shopping on the down-low, finding deals in places that are the retail equivalent of a safari on a private game reserve.

“People don’t want to be as public about shopping for luxury goods as they were in the past,” said Robert Burke, a luxury retail consultant in New York. “It’s a feel-good way to buy, and this is a time for feel-good things.”

Such covert shopping has long been enjoyed by the upper crust, people who could pay six figures for diamond-and-sapphire brooch or sable wrap — and the privilege of exclusivity. But in the current climate, stealth consumption has gained a more potent appeal, taking place at gatherings with an insiders’ feel.

“We’re like a little secret that people want to share, but not with just anybody,” said Eve Goldberg, an owner of William Goldberg, a diamond dealer in New York. Goldberg’s company recently opened a salon that caters to clients who prefer to shop discreetly.

“People are saying: ‘It’s that time of year; I want to buy something, but I feel a little weird,’ ” Goldberg said. “Often they tell me, ‘I don’t want to be out there making an announcement with a big bag that says Harry Winston.’ “

Private dealers, many of them dilettantes who acquire their wares from designer friends, at trade shows and from dealers and artisans in exotic locales, are the bane of recession-battered high-end merchants. Established retailers are hard pressed to compete with such luxury pop-up shops while maintaining inventories and absorbing the high costs of operating their businesses.

But under-the-radar parties offer the well heeled, and the well connected, a chance to snap up temptations without an inner censor chiding them for their spendthrift ways.

Read the rest of the article here.

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