Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DC Has the Money - Give Us Something to Buy!

I was kinda surprised to learn that I live in one of the most affluent areas in the country. In fact, according to the 2009 American Community Survey, which uses US Census data, seven out of the top ten richest counties in the States, including the top three, are located in the DC suburbs.

We're #1! And #2! And....

Now, before you drive over here to egg my McMansion, I would like to mention that I live in an adorable ranch-style house that's less than 1,000 sq ft! I do well, but the survey does not consider the high cost of living in this area. And yet, the two most expensive US cities to live in, New York and LA, do not dominate the survey; DC is 8th most expensive region, after places like Chicago, Miami and San Francisco. The NY suburbs manage to take the other three spots on the top ten richest counties, but LA is totally absent, as are (obviously, if you can do math) all the other more expensive places to live in the country.

So why do we not have a Barney's?

To be fair, we do have a Barney's CO-OP in Georgetown (what 5th / Madison Ave is to NY and Rodeo Drive is to LA - and yes, I know Beverley Hills is not LA, but I consider it the same region). But we all know it's not the same. And while a Last Call Studio (more on that soon), and Michael Kors and Gucci boutiques just opened in the area, we still lack a Marc Jacobs, a Chloé, a Prada... our Saks doesn't even carry Herve Leger or Rebecca Taylor!!!
Wouldn't you want to shop here?

Now I understand lots of money does not equate a high need for expensive fashion, but it certainly doesn't hurt. And while DC is more St. John than Comme des Garçons, there is quite a vibrant and diverse fashion community here - from the politicos on Capitol Hill to the hipsters on U Street! Don't forget where Tim Gunn was born, raised and educated - that's right, right here in DC!

So if there's the demand for fashion and the ability to purchase loads of said fashion, where is said fashion? Why must we take weekend trips up to NYC to get our Jill Stuart fix?

I think there's still a perception problem, which we can't seem to shake. There's no glitzy sex appeal to the city, only old men smoking cigars and arguing politics all day. No red carpets, no paparazzi, no socialites.
Finally some reality TV love!

We're trying to change our image. Michelle Obama has helped us make huge strides towards that, as women across the country obsess over her wardrobe choices. We finally had a "Real World" (which unfortunately filmed mostly in our popped collar, collegiate Adam's Morgan district). And we now have the "Real Housewives of DC," which helps fill our local celebrity needs! But I get the feeling designers still don't see the appeal in opening a boutique here.

No matter what we do, the majority of influential, powerful people in our area will be politicians. LA & NY will always have the monopoly on starlets, producers, models and entertainment executives. People will always try to emulate these "taste makers," including their wardrobe choices. But our taste makers must dress conservatively. Not only are women politicians given a hard time for dressing femininely, but even wives of politicians seem obligated to blend into the background (notable exception obviously being Michelle Obama).
I bet you'd like to shop here too!

I suppose it's nice living somewhere where your status has little to do with your appearance. But as I have no desire to ever go into politics or ever be taken seriously ( :P ), I demand the ability to buy pretty things! So designers out there, please consider DC for your next store location!