Rapaport Magazine


August 2008

By Amber Michelle
RAPAPORT... My cousin recently held up a necklace — by a well-known jewelry designer — that her husband had given her and asked: “Is this a good brand?” Notice that the question was not “Is this a pretty necklace?” or “Is it stylish?” The question was about the status of the brand. Every industry is filled with brands, even unacknowledged brands.

A trip down the soup aisle of the grocery store presents us with the choice of Campbell’s, Progresso or the “store brand.” Each has its own meaning — Campbell’s is about the bonding moments in life; Progresso is about hearty cooking and the store brand is about smart spending. Each brand speaks to the customer in a different way.

It is the same thing in apparel and jewelry; everything is a brand. A woman may get up in the morning and pair her Gap dress with a Prada handbag, Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses and Nine West shoes as she heads out to work. Each of those brands makes a statement about who she is. The values of the brand each reflect a part of her personality. She likes luxury and she spends on it, but she is also practical, selecting brands that are stylish at a price point and mixing them in with the higher-priced items.

As inflation in the U.S. continues on an upward spike and money gets tighter, this blending of high-end brands with more pedestrian labels is poised to continue as savvy consumers look for more ways to stretch dollars. It’s the same for jewelry. A woman may own the upscale pieces from a designer’s collection and she may mix less-expensive items from the same designer, or jewelry from a lesser-known brand.

She may opt for silver rather than gold as a way of adding something new without breaking the bank, and smaller diamond-accented pieces layered together may replace one larger piece. Retailers will need to be prepared to show women new ways — layering, mixing metals and combining higher- and lower-priced pieces — of wearing jewelry that appeal to their taste level and their pocketbooks, allowing them to wear brand names with ease.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - August 2008. To subscribe click here.

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