$780 Prada Boots... Fur Real?
Retailers are trying to coax consumers out of hiding with a new gimmick this season.
Faux fur is rolling out at retailers at every level. You see it featured at high-end department stores such as Neiman Marcus to Liz Claiborne's Juicy Couture to Jennifer Lopez's line at Kohl's .
Even Prada is getting in on the fad. The Italian fashion house is selling $780 Prada faux leather boots this season.
Wall Street Strategies Research Analyst Brian Sozzi said seeing Prada peddling synthetic fabric at a steep price goes against what a premium lifestyle brand should represent.
"To see this now spreading like a weed to the higher end is the reality of the economy and reality of inflation causing companies to engineer products in a new manner, " said Sozzi. "Prada has to be thinking if it can pull off faux fur under the umbrella of its best in class luxury name, it's a financial win-win."
He surmises that Prada is trying to reduce its raw material costs and boost its social responsibility message at the same time.
Last autumn, both high end and mid-tier retailers tried to reel in skittish consumers with pleather. The synthetic leather a cheaper alternative to the real thing. Retailers such as Guess , Polo Ralph Lauren's Club Monaco and JCPenney were pushing pleather pants and jackets.
The plush trend comes as retailers go up against fierce global economic headwinds heading into the holiday shopping season.
ShopperTrak is reporting this week it expects November and December retail sales to eek out a three percent gain. That would be below last year's 4.1 percent increase.
"Every shopper in a store will be more valuable than last year, and retail stores should be ready to convert their holiday shoppers into sales," said ShopperTrak Co-Founder Bill Martin in a statement on Wednesday.
Morgan Stanley Asia Non-Executive Chairman Stephen Roach referred to American consumers as "zombies" on CNBC's "Squawk Box" this morning. He highlighted anemic consumer spending as the number one problem for the economy in his August 29th note. He said never before in the post-World War II era have they been so weak for so long.
It's unlikely the faux fur will give consumers a compelling reason to spend more money this season. But, one has to wonder if they would rather go naked than wear (fake) fur.
Stephanie is Squawk Box producer. Follow her on twitter @StephLandsman
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