Monday, March 06, 2006

Dressing Russian Children to the Nines

Dressing Russian children to the nines - Style - International Herald Tribune

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.

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.
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.

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.


Megan Case said...

The kids at the kindergarten come in dressed in Armani, D&G, i t.d. Most of these high-end clothes for kids look really stupid, actually, even more so at the end of they day when they're covered with food and snot.

We had our Women's Day performance for the moms last week, and the kids were supposed to be dressed up. The girls brought sweet dresses, but the parents dressed the boys in really trashy looking jeans and t-shirts with writing on them and stuff. This is Russian high fashion these days. Only one boy had nice trousers and a matching vest and a white shirt. I was surprised.

W. Shedd said...

At least it wasn't little matching black or dark navy blue Adidas sports pants and jackets. :-)

But yes, my impression is that showing off designer labels on clothes and kids clothes is a big deal right now in Russia. There are certain communities here in the US, that make similar presentations, particularly when they are new to money - and spending it in conspicuous ways is a show of affluence.

I've known some Russian university students (female) that came to the US for summer work programs. A repeated theme, when we talked about clothing - was that Americans are sloppy dressers - but that they also felt they overdressed before they came here. So our sloppy and casual style must rub off. I think TV and movies and magazines give people the wrong idea about how Americans dress anyway.

Ironing ... now there is a topic for the Russian-American cultural divide!