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Is Stealth Shopping the Next Style Trend?

In case you weren’t already painfully aware, conspicuous consumption is officially as dead, and, if you were painfully aware, the New York Times is here to remind us of that fact in a recent story by Ruth La Ferla. Slipping into its place? A curious notion we'll call stealth shopping. Big ticket items, the thinking goes, carry a degree of style stigma these days, so members of the haute set are heading underground, leaving the high street for private sales and trunk shows where their lavish purchases can be made among likeminded folk.

So the argument goes, it certainly can’t be stylish to appear, ginormous shopping bag in hand, as if one has failed to give a flip about the worst economic crisis in decades. Better to do it in private, where no one will notice or mind and where deals may lurk just above wholesale.

Sure, people are cutting back these days. But here’s the problem with the stealth shopping theory: consumers of all stripes have been frequenting private sales, trunk shows and shopping extravaganzas held outside traditional establishments for years. It’s not exactly a new concept, nor one exclusive to the rich. And for every person who shops at a private sale to escape the scrutiny and judgment of the masses, this blogger would wager  many more do so for far less ridiculous reasons, like scoring one-of-a-kind products, buying directly from designers, buying locally, benefiting from deals and simply making the process of shopping a little more fun, a little more social, more of an outing than a chore.

Conspicuous buying, caring more about what’s written on the bag than what’s inside it – well, those things may have gone the way of the shoulder pad for now, and good riddance. But style-seeking going completely stealth? Don’t bet on it. Standing out in a crowd is simply way too much fun.

[Source: Even in Recession, Spend They Must: Luxury Shoppers Anonymous]