Interesting article in the International Herald Tribune's Style section. I've always found Russians to be rather style-concious (particulary women). If they have enough money for some nice things, they are likely to spend it and show it. Gold watches, nice jewelry, expensive clothes, suits, stylish shoes (oh yes, especially shoes ... what is it with Russians and shoes?) are very desirable and commonplace. We Americans are rather slovenly in comparison - some of the wealthiest Americans I know make the least show of how they dress. So I can definitely see the growth potential for reasonably priced, high-quality fashion in Russia.
I think one of the most valid points I read in this article:
Since perestroika, Russian women have complained that they can buy a $200 pair of jeans in a boutique or a $5 pair at an open-air market, but precious little in between. This, too, is changing and more choices are appearing. Foreign companies like Zara and Mango, Benetton and Monsoon have tapped into the middle- and upper- middle-class children's market here.Again, we Americans are cheap in comparison. If we could get a decent pair of jeans for $5 bucks, you can believe we would be buying. And anyone here who is spending $200 on a pair of jeans is either a sucker, a slave to fashion, or has money to burn. But I can believe that more fashion-driven Russians might drop a couple of hundred on a cool pair of jeans ... if they have the cash.
Russian retailers, meanwhile, have introduced Western approaches to production and promotion. Gloria Jeans, for one, prices clothes for the middle class. It is the largest producer of jeans in Russia and one of its fastest growing companies.
One point conspicuously absent in the article is the increasing growth of hypermarkets or cash & carry stories in Russian cities. Stores such as Metro and Auchan (Ашан) have had good success and appeal to middle class Russian consumers. Trust me, Wal-Mart is coming as well.