I know we've been experiencing a less-than-stellar economic reality the past few years. Markets are unstable, currencies are unpredictable, and what used to be sound investment ideas are no longer secure. But there are definitely some key indicators of better times ahead:
(in no particular order)
-- Chicago's Rush Street is doing more than it's part. With a bold and beautiful new location, Barneys New York is taking Chicago by storm. The six level department store features many of the world's best brands and must-haves. And Hermes has just relocated their fabulous flagship boutique to the intersection of Rush and Oak Streets, bringing one of the most exclusive, sought after French brands to the Windy City in all of it's grandeur and glory. There's even an extremely limited edition silk scarf called "Paddock" available solely in this location (for a mere US$375). Chicago also boasts boutiques by Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo, Tiffany & Co., Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Chanel, and La Perla to name a few.
-- Luxury powerhouse Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton is hiring again. The luxe conglomerate has posted a handful of opportunities on their corporate site for positions in media relations, project management, training, and public relations. Is the brand looking to further expand its reach in North America? Regardless, investing in internal improvement and productivity is definitely a positive sign of growth and success.
-- The Waldorf=Astoria, one of the world's most luxurious hotel brands, is expanded to new locations. Joining the historic New York location, Waldorf=Astoria Orlando brings the world class service you expect with the perfect Floridian atmosphere. Also set to open within the next several months are Waldorf=Astoria Shanghai, Waldorf=Astoria Berlin, and Waldorf=Astoria Jerusalem. Long term buzz also includes locations in Beverly Hills and Philadelphia, among others.
-- Cosmetics and Fragrance mecca Sephora has struck a deal with the storied American department store JC Penney. While the chain isn't typically considered a luxury player, the new partnership with Sephora will bring luxe brands to the retailer from favourites like Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Bliss, and Armani. The move definitely signals an increased desire for luxury brands across all demographics, especially in the health and beauty segment.
-- Tiffany & Co., one of the most recognized and sought after jewelers around the world, is set to expand their product ranges with a collection of high end leather goods. The iconic retailers will begin selling handbags, wallets, coin purses, and other small leather goods by the famous duo Richard Lambertson and John Truex. “Richard Lambertson and John Truex are the latest in our tradition of inviting the world’s best designers to work exclusively with Tiffany,” says Jon King, executive vice president of Tiffany & Co. “Their vision and mastery of the craft combined with the skill of the finest Italian artisans have produced a leather collection of timeless simplicity, with all the quality and luxury of the Tiffany experience.” Highlighting the collection is a glazed crocodile Manhattan satchel for US$17,500. Other bags and brief cases will be available in various animal prints, full grain calf skin, lambskin, and python. The collection is set to launch September 2010 in 12 exclusive locations and online.
-- Electronics giant Apple sold more than 1,7 million 4th generation iPhones - setting a company record product release. Additionally, the big mobilephone companies in the US are investing millions of dollars to upgrade their networks to 4G. Currently American customers only receive cellular data transmissions at 3G speeds.
We're not in the clear yet. Unemployment rates are still at record highs, people are still starving, and homes are still being lost. But there is definitely light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. The more you shop, the more you eat out, and the more you spend in your local community, the more jobs you support and the more growth you provide - which are always en vogue.