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Outlets a step-wise approach

nordstrom racksaks off 5th

Recently, both Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off 5th announced store openings in Edmonton. Nordstrom Rack will open next fall at South Edmonton Common, while Saks Off 5th will open two stores – one at South Edmonton Common this fall, and one in north Edmonton next year.

Some are disappointed that the full-line ‘big sisters’ are not (yet) planned for Edmonton – but I believe this is a very strategic approach.

Edmonton is a metro area of more than one million people. As Canada’s most northern provincial capital, Edmonton is a shopping destination for northern residents in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. This catchment area makes Edmonton a great location for retailers.

But the kinds of provisions people buy here tend to be more practical than trendy. Costco, for example, operates a half-dozen stores in the Edmonton area alone. We’re a hardy people; frugal and no-nonsense, in many ways.  People here like big savings.

This is why I believe that opening with off-price stores will pay off for Saks and Nordstrom – and maybe one day we’ll see full-line stores here, too.

These off-price stores will help introduce people to a broader range of designer brands than are currently available in this market. Doing this at an affordable price point will be very attractive to people here, and can potentially set the stage for more expensive tastes in future, should full-line stores arrive.

We have a lot of catching up to do in order to embrace top designer labels. Until that happens, people here will scour the off-price stores and continue to do their designer shopping online or in the US.

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‘New’ accessible luxury

31 rue cambonEvery fashionista aspires to own a piece of couture dreaminess. A scarf. A handbag. Signature jewelry.

However, design houses are making these pieces less accessible through astronomic prices increases. It’s well known that the highest echelons of fashion have annual price increases in the double digits. A recent financial article speculated on the potential for cherished Hermes Birkin bags as investment properties.

How’s the average girl supposed to get in on this?

Certainly, more accessible luxury designers such as Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Tkate spade carousel handbagory Burch, create lovely pieces in more affordable price ranges. The big advantage of these brands is that their affordability means that you can purchase trends as they strike your fancy. Personally, I love the playful aesthetic of Kate Spade, like this carousel handbag (right)!

But for those who long to own a Chanel or Hermes bag, saving up for a new one could take years.

There are options, however, if you’re open to gently used or vintage. In fact, the resale business is booming, with many quality retailers offering spectacular pieces at more reasonable prices.

A few of my favourite sites to explore:

  • The Real Real – prides itself on verifying authenticity. I purchased a beautiful Chanel handbag at a fraction of the original cost. It also offers financing plans.
  • LXR & Co – a Canadian online retailer that codes the condition of each item and also verifies authenticity.
  • What Goes Around Comes Around – a new-to-me site that I’ve just begun exploring. This retailer is known for its bricks-and-mortar stores.

LV knock off counterfeitAlso, I encourage you to check out any luxury vintage stores in your town. There’s nothing like seeing vintage pieces up close and inspecting them yourself. Buyer beware though – please take whatever precautions you feel necessary to ensure you’re buying the real thing.