Why am I on the mailing list for Neiman Marcus, the luxury goods retailer that targets a clientele found in America’s top 2 percent income bracket?
It’s probably for the same reason that Rolex leases a pigeon-friendly billboard along Charleston’s Patrick Street between the Rally’s drive-in and Wok & Roll take-out to display images of their wristwatches — the cheapest model of which starts at a tick above $5,000.
While comic relief could be at play, it could also be that the two high-end retailers employ a totally random marketing scheme.
I can envision a pair of well-heeled gents in a plush boardroom throwing sharp objects — say $725 rose gold Dunhill Men’s Sentryman Diagonal Stroke pens from Neiman Marcus — at a wall-mounted U.S. map. Wherever the pens stick, that’s where the pricey luxury goods will be promoted.
I usually dump the emailed sale offerings I get from Neiman Marcus in the trash file, unopened. But last week, a sale on designer resort wear men’s athletic shoes caught my attention. Who shops for designer resort wear athletic shoes, I wondered.
As it turns out, it’s people who are able to plunk down $850 for a pair of rather plain-looking leather trainer “dad shoes,” as they are described in the sale flyer, by French designer Maison Margiela. Margiela knows you don’t want to show up at your toney resort wearing designer dad shoes that look like they just came out of the box. That’s why the white rubber outsoles of these kicks have been pre-scuffed, or given “dirty treatment,” according to the catalog, to make them look like an authentic component of your leisure wardrobe.
For resort goers who want sneakers that give them a more youthful, athletic and wealthier image, another French designer, Christian Louboutin, has a sock-like neoprene, laceless, pull-on model perched atop a platform heel and padded footbed that’s selling for $1,295. The shoe’s most distinctive feature is an exterior layer featuring hundreds of small, geometrically arranged, out-pointing rubber spikes, possibly to keep the resort town’s peasants at bay.
To top off the resort shoes, Neiman Marcus is offering a variety of designer jeans. They range from a $176 pair of cargo style camouflage pants featuring an unfamiliar pattern that, for all I know, could make the wearer blend in with old currency to an artfully distressed, ripped-at-the-knees pair of black jeans priced at $1,350.
Those N-M jeans would more than pay for a week for two at the fanciest resort I’ve ever spent time at — Canaan Valley Resort. There, I feel comfortable wearing athletic shoes priced in the mid two-digit range, to which I have personally applied an authentic “dirty treatment” through day-to-day wear, and off the rack, but fully intact Lees. I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing my authentically torn, cut, ripped, faded and paint spattered jeans out to dinner at a resort in my price range.
But it’s been interesting poring through the mailer and seeing how at least one component of the upper 2 percent lives. I’ve discovered that it’s not always pretty, and costs far more than it should.