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Fashion Trends: Has Affordable Luxury Killed Luxury Brands?

According to Accessories Magazine one of the major evolutions in luxury in recent years has been the expansion of the luxury sector from the luxury only consumer to consumers in both the middle and upper middle class markets.

(Image of luxury hair accessory designer Linda Levinson - Swarovski White Diamond Crystals w/Swarovski Pearls Barrette - HairBoutique.com - all rights reserved).

In essence luxury brands have opened up their availability to more consumers by offering "affordable luxury".

While there is no question that the luxury market, which encompasses apparel, jewelry, perfumes, cosmetics and a range of accessories (handbags, scarves, sunglasses, belts, messenger bags, hair accessories, etc.,) has suffered from the current global economic woes, fashion experts were predicting that the luxury market was poised for a dramatic fall as far back as late 2007 and early 2008.

Why? The days where consumers at all levels were obsessed with owning the "It" bag has declined due to a number of reasons including the easy availability of luxury for less via the explosion of online auction sites offering heavily discounted products that previously were only available for full price.

(Image of luxury hair accessory designer Linda Levinson - Deco Flower Barrette - Dark Silver With Swarovski Crystals & Turquoise Stones - HairBoutique.com - all rights reserved).

Also, stores such as Target, Wal-Mart and JC Penny have pushed their way into the previously exclusive luxury markets encouraging shoppers to pursue luxury brands with a goal of finding discounted deals. Which resulted in an explosion of affordable luxury shopping options and outlets.

As a response to a deepening recession consumers are abandoning luxury brands in droves, even the discounted versions available at outlet stores, catalogs and at online auction sites. Instead, when they buy, they are looking for fashions that offer a proven price to value ratio.

In essence they want a bigger bang for their buck and a guarantee that they are getting a quality item for their hard earned bucks.

Consumers are also searching for accessible designs that look good but won't break the bank. While they still may splurge for special occasions right now the luxury consumer is downscaling their shopping trends and looking for reliable fashions and accessory lines that offer beauty on a budget.

What are the potential trends that may be occurring for luxury brands as 2009 dawns?

1. The already crowded affordable luxury market will become even more jammed as competitors continue to pour in regardless of economic trends (both up and down).

2. Well-established luxury retailers, such as the reportedly troubled Saks Fifth Avenue, may be replaced by more aggressive mid level players such as Target and Kohls.

3. High end luxury providers such as Neiman Marcus will most likely eliminate marginal luxury brands that under perform.

4. Traditional luxury providers will start to split their focus and either retreat for the super exclusive markets or look for ways to become more aggressive in the "affordable luxury".

(Image above of luxury hair Tarina Tarantino Feather & Flower Dollskin Headband - Black)

One thing is for sure, shopping for anything luxury will continue to grow as a trend on the Web for 2009.

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