Baby Steps

Wealthy Returns

Hey, big spenders!

Consider it a clear case of upward mobility. As the economy keeps percolating away, upper-income--and even moderate-income--consumers are taking advantage of the bountiful late 1990s by indulging in luxury purchases. "There are more companies identifying themselves as luxury [marketers]," says Scotty Dupree, executive editor of the new quarterly trade magazine Luxe. "And this is fueled by the number of consumers who spend money on luxury goods and services."

Significantly, however, this latest surge in spending is far different from 1980s ostentatiousness. Forget diamond tiaras; luxury in the 1990s is more of a controlled extravagance.

"Instead of having a lot of things in our homes, we'd rather have a few things of high quality," Dupree explains.

Interestingly, Dupree sees the luxury trend as a hybrid of the spend-happy 1980s and the value-driven years that comprised the first part of this decade. "It's more of an understated sense of luxury now," she says. "We're not head-to-toe luxury; we're select luxury."

Welcome to the age of inconspicuous consumption.

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This article was originally published in the April 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Baby Steps.

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