High-End Homogenization, How High

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been reading a fascinating book by Dana Thomas, called “Deluxe, How Luxury Lost Its Luster,” how high end luxury brands, have become globalized, ” and “lost their luster,” and available to the “masses.”

The book “Deluxe,” explains how high-end luxury retail would now be available to developers like New England Development, Mr. Karp, whereas in earlier decades, that would not have been a choice that would have been obtainable.

(As a btw, Tom Salemi on his blog Newburyport Posts has a good list of articles and references to Stephen Karp.)

And the book also explains why “luxury” brands now have the possibility of being an emphasis in retail, whereas it would not have been possible a decade ago.

I was taking a look at the website of one of New England Development’s recent, in the works projects, “Wisconsin Place,” a mixed-use, lifestyle center in Chevy Chase, MD. Chevy Chase, MD is described as “one of the region’s most affluent and discriminating neighborhoods, “synonymous with well-heeled affluence.” And the project does include “a cluster” of very high-end retailers, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Tiffany & Co and Bloomingdale’s.

This appears to be a different emphasis from the retail in the CambridgeSide Galleria, across the river from Boston, one of New England Development’s earlier projects. The retail there, having more what I think of as traditional mall stores, Best Buy, Macy’s, Sears, etc.

I’m not sure what this all means. It’s hard to imagine that we would see Tiffany & Co in Newburyport, MA. Would Newburyport ever be synonymous with that kind of “well-heeled affluence?” Difficult for me to imagine.

Not an emphasis apparently on the low to mid-market. But what the “high-end” of high-end homogenization would it be? For New England Development, is Newburyport a “diamond in the rough,” or do we all ready have enough innate glitter and only need a little “buffing” here and there.

Mary Eaton