Increasing Shoe Prices

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  1. Here's an article about something that we are all too familiar with, the rising prices of designer footwear. I love the last line about 'consumers are to blame', so if you want to reduce the prices of CLs, stop buying them.

    Umm Danielle Steele and the Traina sisters spend $5M a year on shoes at Barneys?!? Is that even possible? At $800 a pair, that means they buy over 6,000 pairs every year. :drool:,0,5740953.story

    [COLOR=#333333! important]Designers and retailers push the envelope on shoe prices even as the dollar flounders.[/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#999999! important]By Monica Corcoran, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    March 30, 2008 [/COLOR]
    THIS spring, nearly every top designer has a " Cinderella" slipper, a shoe priced so high that it should come with a handsome prince -- or an hour with a male escort, at least. Christian Louboutin's webbed suede and button sandals sell for $1,345, while Versace offers a $1,400 satin pump festooned with nothing more than a few tassels. Dior's platform slingback with beaded heel runs $1,030, while Balenciaga's pink and brown braided gladiator sandal goes for $1,375.

    Then, there's the $1,045 Lanvin flat (pictured on the cover) that should land at Barneys in Beverly Hills any day now. Already, women are salivating for this sandal adorned with a couple dozen leather-covered studs. Run, don't walk. There's a waiting list.

    [​IMG] Jimmy Choo, $1,400 (Kirk McKoy / LAT)

    [​IMG] Balenciaga, $1,375 (Kirk McKoy / LAT)

    [​IMG] Christian Louboutin, $1,345 (Kirk McKoy / LAT)

    [​IMG] [​IMG] Photo Gallery
    Stroll Back In Time

    "Footwear is having its runway moment," says Marshal Cohen, chief analyst for New York market research firm NPD Group. Designers are "raising the cachet of the brand by having one extravagant style, and that one makes the other pairs seem more reasonable."

    In other words, the glass slipper has shattered and consumers have resigned themselves to splurging. Case in point: You pick up a sandal and sigh with relief when it costs less than your monthly car payment. And those sale endorphins surge when you see $1,000 platforms marked down to $675.

    Pièce de résistance styles aside, the going price for a luxury designer pump has climbed from $350 in 2004 to $500 in the last year. Mary Janes, an "it" style for spring, range in price this season from $575 for a sleek patent leather pair by Gucci to $690 for suede ones with zaftig curves by Prada.

    Miuccia Prada recently was quoted as saying, "The obsession with handbags has finished for now. It feels over. It's about shoes."

    Celebrities such as Kirsten Dunst pout for Miu Miu ads that highlight accessories, and starlets name-check their mules on the red carpet. Christian Louboutin's iconic crimson undersoles -- as eye-catching as fresh spilled blood on asphalt -- have become status symbols. Every new season brings a new style, and with the reign of jeans and casualwear, a breathtaking shoe separates the chic from the chaff.

    That's not exactly good news for shoe junkies. A pair of sandals could set you back as much as a shoulder bag. Right now, a turquoise Prada satchel sells for $535 on the Neiman Marcus website, and the designer's wavy ankle-wrap sandal sells for $550.

    "I will literally think, 'Do I spend $600 on shoes or get new plumbing?' " says Carlota Espinosa, vice president of online sample sale retailer "They keep raising prices to see if people will pay more. And there's no law that says they can't."

    Nor is there any way to justify the steady and exponential boost in price. Cohen traces the trend back to 2002, when everyone was crying foul over $300 jeans. "Denim stole all the attention, so no one noticed that footwear prices were quietly rising," he says. "The retailers saw that women were passionate about shoes and looked at footwear as an investment."

    Pumping up prices

    SUNSET PLAZA boutique owner Tracey Ross felt the sting about five years ago. "When Chloé came on the scene, I remember noticing it," she recalls. "All of a sudden, every line started designing a shoe collection that was more elaborate and more expensive." That's about the time that Lanvin entered the scene.

    Simultaneously, the dollar started to atrophy, which drove prices up even more. Because the best shoes are made in Italy, U.S. retailers take a bath when buying and importing European footwear.

    "Right now, everything from the price of leather to factory costs are about 20% more because of the euro," says Neil Weilheimer, executive editor of Footwear News. "The prices have been creeping up, but we're seeing the most dramatic increases because of it now."

    The dollar is at a five-year low against the euro, but a euro on steroids isn't solely to blame. Thanks to "Sex and the City" character Carrie Bradshaw -- the patron saint of footwear fanatics -- shoe designers have become demigods. Even bachelors in Duluth, Minn., know the name "Manolo" and certain people can probably pronounce "Christian Louboutin" more easily than " Albert Camus."

    Some blame Louboutin for spiking prices. Even his sequined ballet flats sell for $880.

    "He started the trend when he introduced the platform," says John Rutenberg, who recently retired from Barneys in Beverly Hills after 15 years as a shoe sales associate. "He wanted to pull ahead of Manolo Blahnik, and his platform sold for $395 in 2004. Now, it costs $730."

    Louboutin -- who fetches up to $2,700 for a pair of crystal-studded pumps -- refuses to take the blame for footwear inflation.

    "This is not in the hands of the designers," he says from Paris. "It's the retailers. If Neiman's or Barneys decide that people are used to spending $700 on a pair of pumps, why would they lower that price?"

    Great question. Not surprisingly, spokespeople for Neiman Marcus and Barneys declined to comment on the great shoe price debate. But Rutenberg says Barneys shoppers aren't flinching at the prices. "Danielle Steel spends $4 [million] to $5 million a year at Barneys on shoes for herself and her children," he says, adding that the Beverly Hills store "sells $22 million in footwear per year."

    Evelyn Ungvari, owner of the boutique Diavolina on Robertson Boulevard, says that she would gladly drop the prices on her shoe selection if the dollar rallies back to health.

    "I feel horrible when my girls come in here and say, 'I can't spend this much on sandals,' " she says, seated amid $775 Pierre Hardy peep-toe pumps and $595 Gil Carvalho gold sandals that zip up the back. "They think it's my fault, but I am paying these high prices too."

    Ungvari has smartly stocked her shop with a variety of styles to suit every budget. Gladiator sandals by Dolce Vita priced at $124 are just a few strides away from Givenchy's $395 patent leather version.

    Other small shoe purveyors are seeking out alternative suppliers to stay afloat. "A boot we had last season for $495 would have to sell for $695 this fall and so we're not carrying them," says Beth Whiffen, owner of boutique Il Primo Passo in Santa Monica. She's looking to Spain, rather than Italy, for more reasonable lines. "Our customers spend up to $495 without any price resistance. That's the breaking point."

    Still, retailers -- be they sleek behemoths or quaint boutiques -- mark up shoes 2.4 to three times the wholesale price. (On clothes and bags, the average markup is generally twice the wholesale price.) A pair of shoes that wholesale for $200 to $250 retail for $600. Exotic skins such as python, eel and stingray ratchet up costs even more. The same goes for ornate accents such as the mirrored heels on those ballyhooed Balenciaga sandals or the sculpted flower stem heel on Prada's latest pumps.

    But like the real estate market, the shoe market could be in for a correction. NPD Group reports that in 2005, footwear sales were up 11%. That figure dipped to 5% in 2006 and wilted to 2.5 % last year. Now, with a recession looming, the industry can expect some scuffs.

    In the meantime, don't fault Lanvin or the retailers for your financial blisters. "This is a free market," says Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a retail research firm in New York. "The consumers are to blame for paying these prices."

    Who's up for a revolution? Wear comfortable shoes.
  2. Wow, thanks for the article. Yup, the customers are to blame for the increase. We buy the shoes no matter how expensive they are. As long as they sell, the prices will keep going up.
  3. ^^Yup! That applies to everything including purses and clothes.
  4. Thank you for the sharing the article, Kamilla... :tup:

    But for them to "...blame Louboutin..." :blah:
  5. Thanks for posting. That's a good read. I think the same way, a pair of CLs or a new couch? Needless to say, I still sit on the couch with the flattened, sinking cushions.
  6. It was my gut feeling the CL was to blame for the rise in shoe prices in general. Recently I started feeling a little silly just sticking to CL and starting looking around at other shoe designers but they seem to mostly all want $700++ now. Its crazy! since when did designers like Dsquared2 ,Marni and BV start wanting that much for shoes!! I will stick to CL afterall since those are the only shoes I am willing to shell out the cash for. Even moschino and prada have significantly raised their prices very recently.

    Long are the days where $400 could get you some latest style designer heels. This is not only occuring with shoes though and thankfully thats my only designer addiction.

    I am afraid even If I had too much money I probably wouldnt spend $5M just on shoes that sounds off. I mean even if I changed shoes 3 times a day there arent enough days in the year..
  7. I agree. I am buying a few Chanels and LV's now, before the increase. Who knows if I'll be able to afford them in the future.:shrugs:
  8. I have seen the same style shoes rise about 25% over the last year, and we are still buying!!.... I did swear to myself at the beginning of this year, that I will purchase less this year, and if they increase over 1k?... no more :nogood: :Push:
  9. Thanks for sharing the article ..
  10. Well if the general mark-up is 2.5 to 3 times the wholesale price on shoes, that means that if the price goes up in the salon, it's because the wholesale price went up.

    As Billie Joe Armstrong famously said "You want more people to come? Take a lower cut then." The same can be applied for shoes. If you want more customers, lower the freakin' prices. The higher the prices go, the less people are going to be able to afford them.

    As they said in the article too, $495 is the breaking point with most shoe buyers. You can't base your customer off of someone like Danielle Steele as uh, they're in the highest .1% income bracket for a reason! I only buy shoes right now that are a damn good deal (e.g. $350 down to $98) if I really want the shoe. There's no way that I'm ever going to be paying $600+ for a pair personally, even if I didn't owe Visa any money. There's plenty of good quality in non-designer shoes also, and if that's what I have to do in the future, then so be it. I'm after design and quality and the way that the CL shoes seem to be going...a non-premium designer shoe that is actually really well made may be the way to go in the future.

    I'm actually on kind of a slowdown on shoes (believe it or not). Right now I have so many that I can't give enough love to some of them and I need to do that! Plus I've ran out of room in my closet ages ago. I need to reorganize my closet before my boyfriend gets home next week so he doesn't notice it that much!
  11. Do they even stock 6,000 pairs???? So if we are to blame, then we stop buying and they make zero profits, who is to blame then???
  12. yeah, I have to slow down or I will be the little old lady who lives in a shoe one day !!
  13. Interesting article, thanks for sharing. Similar things that we have heard re: luxury handbags. I am willing to splurge on shoes and handbags because I don't spend that much on clothes.
  14. they have to blame someone. why not the consumer? i need to stop buying soon also or else i'll be in big trouble.
  15. Wow for some reason, this article really speaks to me, and puts my spending in perspective... :tdown::wtf: I need to stop buying so many shoes!:shocked:(my mother would be so proud of that statement)