Prices on MJ Collection Bags to Skyrocket! (And some pics from the boutique!)

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  1. #1 Mar 31, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
    After quite a long hiatus, I stopped in to the MJ boutique to see what was new. Some of the newer bags have caught my eye, and I'm really excited about the fall/winter collection! My former SA is now the store manager, and while we were chatting, she shared some interesting info: Marc is bringing in one of the former lead designers from Louis Vuitton (not sure who it is, she couldn't remember their name). When they come on board, she says that we should expect to see a dramatic increase in price. She said she didn't think the prices will be as high as LV, but that they will likely be comparable to Saint Laurent, Fendi and Valentino (in the $2-4k range). One of the steps in that direction was the discontinuation of the Stam and the Quilted Collection (including the Single & Large Single). This years Resort collection also inched a little closer to the "new" MJ - they used some better leathers and materials, the price point for that collection was higher than they are now for the Spring/Summer collection (the one bag I took picture of - the Medium Big Apple - is $2895!) She says we should likely see the prices increase with the fall/winter collection.

    While I was there, I took some pics of a few of the bags. There are two that I really liked, in fact, I'm pretty sure I will likely be buying one of them - the Big Apple Nolita. The leather was just incredible - soft and lightweight with a textured appearance (not really pebbled, but close) with a leather woven chain similar to Chanel. The price isn't bad either, especially compared to similar bags from other designers ($1095). I also really liked the Lads Mate in Atlantic, which reminds me of Petrol from the first year of the Stam. It seems like this collection might be his replacement for the quilted bags too - the cross-stitching minus the quilting. I've really liked most of the bags from this group that I've seen. In addition to the bags I really liked I snapped some pics of bags around the store. I do like how some of the bags are very simple with nice leather and clean lines, like the Doubles Maverick, which is a spitting image of the Celine All Soft, but at more than half the price (the leather is almost identical). I'm not loving all the grommets and oversized studs. Beneath all the hardware and ornamentation, the bags are nice and the leather's great. I wish he'd offer these same bags without all the decorations. Seems like they recycled some of the leather "bells" from the Memphis collection from Spring '09.

    Its been a disappointing few years (for me anyhow), but based on what I've seen this season (and even last season), I'm liking the direction MJ's moving. I'm very hopeful that his leaving LV is a good thing, and Marc gets back to making memorable bags that are durable and last a lifetime. I hope that the price increase - whatever that may be - doesn't end up hurting him. I think on the one hand, he will loose some customers, but on the other, if the quality of his bags is on par with what other designers at the same price point are offering, it could be a good thing. I'd love to see him return to lining his bags with suede. If he's going to be raising prices, I think he's got to use better materials than he has been using. I would never pay more than $2k for any bag that's lined with some of the linings I've seen him use (poor lining is the reason I passed on a Rio that I found on sale this past winter - I was all set to buy it, until it opened it up and was shocked at what I saw!). I also think he needs to do fewer bags with "bells & whistles". A few grommets or oversized studs are nice, but too much can make a bag look gaudy & cheap.

    What are your thoughts on the new collection and impending price increase?
  2. This is the Big Apple Nolita -- I love this bag!

  3. The Lads Mate in Atlantic. I don't think the color is accurate in these pics - it looks too blue, when the color is more blueish/green, just like Petrol. The leather is nice. Its got a bit of a glossy finish to it, and the shape is pretty structured - the bags not going to slouch or loose its shape because of the design of the seams.

  4. And here are some random bags from around the store -- sorry I didn't take more! The first one is from Resort. Its the one that costs $2900. Its a really nice bag and the color is pretty extraordinary - a rich, dark brown with reddish undertones. You really have to see it in person to appreciate it.

  5. I have the Nolita!! It's beautiful! I got it in black with silver hardware, also my SA told me the bags are expected to double and triple next season, but colours such as plum, forest and purples with silver hw (my fav) are due to come out! I had a sneak look at the line.
    Don't think I can afford to :sad: I might get a new bag before the increase.
    Thanks for the info though :smile:
    Nolita looks fab on you!
  6. #6 Mar 31, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014

    Thank you! When did you get your Nolita bag? Have you used it a lot? Curious as to how well it wears and what thoughts you might have about it (did you ever post pics?)

    Which store do you shop at? We were talking about the upcoming fall/winter collection and it sounds very promising, but I am curious about the pricing. Even for the clothing. They're going to be doing lots of basics that can be mixed and matched with so many other pieces (both from MJ and non-MJ). Lots of separates. And I really love the color palette. One thing I was really disappointed about was they didn't order the light grey quilted boots that were shown on the runway (the ones I loved the most!) I'm hoping that maybe someone else will be carrying those (altho it does seem like the department stores are cutting back on their MJ inventories). But she basically said the same thing you just did - the handbag prices will double, and even triple in some cases. She said there's one bag (an exotic, of course!) that's got a price tag of $15,000!

    Like I said earlier, if the quality improves, the price increase will seem justified, but I can't imagine the bags he's producing now being offered at 2 or 3 times their current prices. Like the Nolita, for example - its a great bag, made from great leather. The hardware is nice & substantial. But I can't imagine that bag with a price tag of $2-3k, unless he changed the lining to either suede or leather, and even then, I don't think it would justify a $2k price tag
  7. I read an article somewhere that designers, like MJ, are increasing their prices to make sure they are differentiated from MK.
  8. I don't think I can justify the prices to be honest :sad:
    I would love the Nomad bag too :smile:

    Nolita is a fab!! I love her , she sags a bit at the top when not stuffed though, there is no MJ boutique in my country, so I shop at Bagheera Boutique in Italy (online) they are the best!! They special order in items for me :smile:
  9. Thank you very much for sharing this information, as well as the wonderful pictures of the bags. So many that seemed "meh" on the official websites look amazing through your lens! I have been dithering over several styles for awhile, and now I know I will want to move before the prices increases kick in.
  10. #10 Mar 31, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
    Do you have a link by any chance? This sounds like an interesting read! I don't want to comment on the bags since I know there are a lot of fans here, but I will say that MK was my least favorite part of Project Runway for all those years!
  11. Love love that big apple nolita! I was a bit disappointed with the direction this season and the push away from quilting. I don't love all the grommets and fringe but it is what makes him a big more avante garde.

    I am not too happy to hear about increases because I don't feel the quality this season matches that sentiment but if the leather choices and materials increase in quality I suppose they have to increase prices. I guess this means I'll need to purchase before the increase!

  12. Haha I so hear ya on this!
  13. I can't find the link but I asked my friend who originally linked me if she remembers!
  14. From my friend (added text at the beginning is hers, too):

    Here's the article. I pasted it because WSJ can't always be viewed without a subscription. here's the quote first:

    One reason ultraluxury brands are raising prices is to distinguish their products from entry-level luxury goods that are fast picking up market share.

    "The more Tory Burches and Michael Kors there are, the more the Chanels and Louis Vuittons will try to price up," said Milton Pedraza, the chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a research and consulting firm.

    The unintended consequence could be that the luxury brands drive even more customers toward less-expensive rivals.

    Soaring Luxury-Goods Prices Test Wealthy's Will to Pay

    Sales Growth Slows as Competition Heats Up; 'Prices Have Gotten Really Crazy'

    Suzanne Kapner and
    Christina Passariello
    March 2, 2014 6:42 p.m. ET

    A crackdown by China on giving gifts to officials has slowed sales. Above, a Cartier store in Shanghai. Bloomberg News

    Despite expanding into new markets, the luxury-retail business has been relying on price increases to drive sales. Now, even the very wealthy are nearing the limits of what they are willing to spend.

    In the past five years, the price of a Chanel quilted handbag has increased 70% to $4,900. Cartier's Trinity gold bracelet now sells for $16,300, 48% more than in 2009. And the price of Piaget's ultrathin Altiplano watch is now $19,000, up $6,000 from 2011.

    Such increases for some of the world's most expensive indulgences far outpace inflation and contrast with the middle and lower end of the retail market, where even small increases can turn off shoppers.

    At the high end of the market, a higher price can add to a product's allure, according to one economic theory. But the practice is seen by critics as a flimsy platform on which to build sales growth, one that already could be reaching its limit and might prove precarious if the economy sours.

    Spending on luxury apparel, leather goods, watches, jewelry and cosmetics reached $390 billion last year, according to Boston Consulting Group. But growth is starting to slow from its postrecession pace. Sales of such items rose 7% last year, down from the 11% annual rate in 2010 through 2012, according to the firm. BCG forecast that sales growth would hover around 6% for the next few years.

    A crackdown by China on giving gifts to officials has caused much of the slowdown.

    But there are also signs that price increases are starting to wear thin with Western customers amid heightened competition from more-affordable brands.

    "Luxury brands are at risk of losing customers who cannot or do not want to pay more," said Claudio D'Arpizio, a partner with consulting firm Bain & Co.

    Connie Oclassen of Mill Valley, Calif., said she couldn't buy as many pairs of Jimmy Choo flats as she used to, since prices climbed to $650 a pair from $495. In the past she would buy four or five pair a year. This year, the retired marketing executive will limit herself to three.

    "Prices have gotten really crazy," she said as she browsed at New York's Henri Bendel recently.

    Sales at Gucci, which is owned by France's Kering SA, KER.FR +0.17% fell 2.1% last year. And British handbag maker Mulberry Group MUL.LN -0.42% PLC said that lower-than-expected sales last year would decrease profit substantially. Mulberry's chief executive said more-affordable brands, such as those from Hong Kong's Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. KORS +0.56% , had siphoned off customers.

    LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA MC.FR -0.56% said sales growth for fashion and leather goods slowed to 5% last year from 7% the year before, excluding the effects of acquisitions and currency movements. But the French company said it increased prices on its Vuitton products around 3% to 4.5% last year without an impact on its business.

    "The client base is used to that type of price increase," Chief Financial Officer Jean-Jacques Guiony said. Vuitton raised the price of a monogrammed Speedy bag in the U.S. by 15% last year to $910. That made it 32% more expensive than in 2009.

    The higher prices are masking weaker growth in volume. "Companies are selling fewer units," said Luca Solca, an analyst with Exane BNP Paribas.

    An economic theory holds that for certain goods, higher prices increase desirability and drive sales, rather than suppress demand as they would for ordinary products. Economists refer to such luxury products as Veblen goods, named for American economist Thorstein Veblen, who described the phenomenon.

    Higher prices didn't dissuade Brooke Palmer, a public-relations director from Tampa, Fla., who shopped for shoes on a recent afternoon at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Footwear is an investment, she said. And she raved about her first pair of Christian Louboutin shoes—red strappy sandals she bought 10 years ago and still wears.

    "I could buy cheaper shoes, but they wouldn't last," Ms. Palmer said. "And they wouldn't make my feet happy."

    The high-price strategy carries risks. Luxury brands pushed through steep increases before the recession only to have sales plunge when the crisis hit and the stock market tumbled, prompting even well-heeled consumers to slash spending.

    One reason ultraluxury brands are raising prices is to distinguish their products from entry-level luxury goods that are fast picking up market share.

    "The more Tory Burches and Michael Kors there are, the more the Chanels and Louis Vuittons will try to price up," said Milton Pedraza, the chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a research and consulting firm.

    The unintended consequence could be that the luxury brands drive even more customers toward less-expensive rivals.

    High-end brands said the price increases are necessary to maintain quality and offset the rising costs of production.

    "We are no different from other luxury brands in regularly adjusting our prices as our models, production costs, raw materials and exchange rates change," a Chanel spokeswoman said.

    Wage and material costs have increased. Wages in China have risen 62% since 2007. And the price of native steer hides, a benchmark for leather, has increased about 17% over that period, while the price of gold has more than doubled, according to FactSet and SIX Financial Information.

    But rising costs don't account for all of the increases, industry executives said. The U.S. price of a basket of luxury goods tracked by market-research firm Euromonitor International rose 13% last year, while the consumer-price index increased just 1.5%.

    Andrea Ciccoli, the founder of Level Group, which operates e-commerce sites for brands such as Stuart Weitzman and Galliano, said higher leather and gold prices should translate into price increases of no more than a few percentage points.

    In Europe and the U.S., brands have pushed prices higher in part to capture more money from Chinese tourists who buy luxury goods abroad to avoid tariffs that can add 40% to prices at home.

    The brands also have a rising supply of wealthy people to cater to. Credit Suisse estimated 1.8 million people joined the ranks of the world's millionaires last year.

    But even for those who can afford it, higher prices are starting to bite.

    Jamie Moore, a homemaker in Cleveland, Tenn., said that on her annual shopping sojourn to New York, she usually splurged on a Prada handbag, for which even a basic nylon model can cost $1,230. Not this year.

    "The prices have gotten so expensive that I'm not buying one," she said.

    Write to Suzanne Kapner at and Christina Passariello at

    Corrections & Amplifications
    Luxury goods that see increased demand with higher prices are called Veblen goods, named for American economist Thorstein Veblen, who described the phenomenon. An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to such items as Giffen goods as identified by Scottish economist Robert Giffen.
  15. It is interesting how the stock market and profit margins have so drastically changed but it makes sense. When I know I could have gotten something a mere month ago for a cheaper price, I am more likely to pass on that item.

    The price jump will mean more people buying less because you need more money to buy what you normally would have. Instead of buying 4, we may only buy 2. This also means people on the cusp of affording things before will likely move to different, less expensive brands.