Ever opened a fashion magazine like Vogue or GQ, and wonder, “who can afford to buy this stuff?” For example, here’s a shot of actor Edgar Ramirez in a $1,590 Salvatore Ferragamo suit for a GQ fashion spread about linen suits.
And here’s a Vogue piece about stocking up on simple staples — like a black Victor & Rolf dress for $970, or a $495 leather bag by Alexander Wang.
Most people use these spreads as inspiration, then turn to affordable stores like Top Shop for items that can pass for being straight off the runway. Others find designer items at outlets or discount stores like Nordstrom Rack.
“I think there are a lot of fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M and Forever 21 that are so quick to copy what’s on the runway and into their stores,” says Nikki Martinez, an assistant buyer for the cosmetics chain Sephora. “As soon as I see a magazine spread, I can buy an iteration of that trend at Zara for a tenth of the price.”
And then there are people who walk straight into a designer’s store and buy garments with jaw-dropping price tags at full price. They are the ones who can afford “this stuff”, and shop at the most expensive shops in America with famous names: Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and Oscar de la Renta — the latter of which just so happens to be the most expensive clothing shop in the U.S.
To come up with our list of the most expensive shops in America, we looked at proprietary data from 20 million Visa and Mastercard holders, and looked at average receipt amounts based on millions of transactions done in clothing stores across the U.S from April 2010 to May 2011. We filtered out places like wholesalers, manufacturers and big department stores, and then ranked the most expensive shops by average receipt sizes.
De la Renta’s eponymous store on New York City’s Madison Avenue had well-to-do shoppers spending $3,217 on average during each shopping trip to the high end store. This isn’t atypical considering dresses in his ready to wear line have price tags from $1,890 to $4,790 (his cocktail dresses can go as high as $10,690).
The other stores in the top 5 most expensive shops: Giorgio Armani, located just half a block from Oscar de la Renta, ranked second with an average receipt of $2,881; Loro Piana in Boston ranked third with $2,818, the very high end womenswear shop Akris also found on Madison Ave ranked fourth with $2,818; West Hollywood’s Maxfield, which sells clothing from designers like Chanel and Balmain, rounded the top 5 with an average receipt of $2,258.
About half of the shops on our list are from New York City, with Los Angeles coming in a distant second and cities like Naples, Fla., Chevy Chase, Md. and Chicago making appearances. Though most stores were from well known designers like Alexander McQueen (ranked 10th), Tom Ford (ranked 11th) andDolce & Gabbana (ranked 16th), prominent bridal shops like the Vera Wang Bridal House, and the famed Kleinfeld Bridal, the setting for the TLC show “Say Yes to the Dress” made the list and ranked 22nd and 19th respectively.
“A very small population of the community — even fashion community — are able to wear head to toe designer on a regular basis,” Martinez says. “Fashion spreads are meant to be aspirational, fantasy, even escapist if they’re done well.”
But some pieces of clothing can be worth the cost.
“I personally shop less frequently than I used to because I’d rather invest in better quality, longer lasting pieces,” Martinez says. “The older I’ve gotten, the more I value things like fabric, well constructed pieces, and investing in designers. These clothes just look and feel better.”