During times of economic uncertainty, sales of relatively inexpensive feel-good items rise, even as women cut back on bigger ticket wardrobe items. Perhaps you have heard of “the lipstick index”, a term coined in 2001 by Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies. In the autumn of that difficult year, lipstick sales rose 11 percent. The New York Times reports that we are now experiencing a soaring lipstick index.
Nail polish is the new lipstick
Have you bought red lipstick or sparkly blue nail polish lately? According to Time, lipstick sales were up 14 percent in the first half of 2011. Lauder explains that during the Depression in the 30s, it was movie-going that spiked. Currently it is sales of nail polish, up 68 percent in the first half of 2012 following on a very strong 2011. Colors that shout for attention to the wearer are leading the surge.
I love your shoes!
Are you receiving compliments on your shoes? If your mother taught you that it is the shoes, the belt, the scarf, the hat, and the bag that make the outfit, she was correct and not alone. Aside from shoes, one-of-a-kind jewelry sales, such as statement necklaces and gold cuff bracelets, are doing extremely well, according to Sarah Shaw, a San Francisco-based boutique owner. Over the past 18 months, attention to accessories purchases has been much stronger than in apparel, with Michael Kors reporting 75 percent of revenue from his accessories lines.
Accessorize or die
Read about the take-off success of Warby Parker, selling out of their vintage-inspired spectacles online and at 11 hot new retail locations. Expect to see such apparel designer names as Victoria Beckham, Narciso Rodriguez, and Monique Lhuillier moving into shoes and eyewear. After a hiatus, Elle Accessories magazine will be back on the newsstands each spring and fall. Check out Saks Fifth Avenue ever-expanding shoe salon, already so big that it earned its own zip code in 2007. At Barney’s, a doubling in size for the shoe department is complete. At prestigious New York City fashion schools such as Parsons and the Fashion Institute of Technology, course enrollment in accessory design has multiplied manifold.
The business of being British
We cannot forget the sight of that thing upon the head of Princess Beatrice for the wedding of Kate and Wills, which spawned its own “Ridiculous Hat” Facebook page and which the British press called “outlandish.” Nevertheless, all eyes were on the millinery marvels of Britain through the Royal Wedding, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, followed by the Summer Olympics. In the U.K., a hat or a fascinator is ‘de rigueur’ for attending weddings, religious ceremonies, and some cultural and sporting events. So, fans of millinery have occasion to grow the trend in America, no question.