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When the Natick Collection of Overpriced Stuff goes under, suburbanites will have only themselves to blame

Things aren't going quite as planned at the uptown section of the Natick Mall (as opposed to the original ghetto wing, the one where you can still buy black-light art), the Globe reports, quoting analysts who blame New Englanders:

... While there is ample wealth in this region - the average household income is about $110,000, nearly double the state average - there is still a culture of buttoned-up Yankees who aren't accustomed to indulgent spending on luxury goods, according to Madison Riley, a retail analyst at Kurt Salmon Associates in Boston. ... "There has been a culture in the Boston area of that Yankee thriftiness, even when one had money," Riley said. "That's changed in the city of Boston but the mentality still resides in the suburbs, and that is impacting Natick." ...

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Comments

I love all the talk about the need to "educate" people that the clothes they like aren't good enough, and that they have to fix this manufactured problem with $1,000+ outfits.

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Good heavens, I was laughing so hard I couldn't talk when I read that article. I guess people in this Bahston area aren't just conservative "my uniform denotes my social status" types, but they don't have any fashion sense either? I guess there is the risk that you could wear something interesting and different and be mistaken for someone in a lower caste ... but to blame the failure of a multi-million dollar mall on it amid a lagging economy is specious.

Educating people about fashion. LOL! It is just too funny to contemplate. Oh, that and Californians discussing fashion like sports? WTF? Okay, maybe some do ... but LA and NYC have ginormous populations with many cocktail party subcultures, so a relatively small fraction of the of those who actually are so obsessed might seem like "everybody" or "more than do it here".

Whatever.

Sayeth the Davies Brothers:

They seek him here, they seek him there,
His clothes are loud, but never square.
It will make or break him so hes got to buy the best,
cause hes a dedicated follower of fashion.

And when he does his little rounds,
round the boutiques of london town,
Eagerly pursuing all the latest fads and trends,
cause hes a dedicated follower of fashion.

Oh yes he is (oh yes he is), oh yes he is (oh yes he is).
He thinks he is a flower to be looked at,
And when he pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight,
He feels a dedicated follower of fashion.

Oh yes he is (oh yes he is), oh yes he is (oh yes he is).
Theres one thing that he loves and that is flattery.
One week hes in polka-dots, the next week he is in stripes.
cause hes a dedicated follower of fashion.

They seek him here, they seek him there,
In regent street and leicester square.
Everywhere the carnabetian army marches on,
Each one an dedicated follower of fashion.

Oh yes he is (oh yes he is), oh yes he is (oh yes he is).
His world is built round discoteques and parties.
This pleasure-seeking individual always looks his best
cause hes a dedicated follower of fashion.

Oh yes he is (oh yes he is), oh yes he is (oh yes he is).
He flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly.
In matters of the cloth he is as fickle as can be,
cause hes a dedicated follower of fashion.
Hes a dedicated follower of fashion.
Hes a dedicated follower of fashion.

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You missed the best quote in the article, from owner of "trendy boutique" Stil: "Even if you have money, you may not have taste. We have to educate our customers on style. It's hard."

Ooo, makes me want to shop there...not.

I think they should trash the whole thing except for the Cheesecake Factory, and turn it into non-valet parking. That pay-extra and valet parking really drives me nuts, especially since the mall parking is still such a mess.

Mmmm...Cheesecake Factory :-)

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Her fellow Bay Staters' obvious lack of sophistication and taste must be particularly galling for its owner because, as the Globe gushed when the expanded Natick Mall opened, it was the only local business to be awarded a spot in the Conspicuous Consumption Wing.

Also, I wonder what the folks at Foreign Motors West or Herb Chambers think about our alleged thriftiness.

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isn't Nordstrom the real reason for going to this new part of the mall? The article says that Nordstrom is doing fine.

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I haven't been to the place since the remodel even though I work in Natick. I guess the market for "Stil"'s $100+ T-shirts isn't quite what they expected. Maybe they should stick to peddling their crap to Newbury St. eurotrash who have a "sense" of "style" to match their purses [murses?].

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Yep, that's a way to get me to go to a store: tell me that my fashion sense is really lacking, but they will educate me about why I should spend $500 on an ugly blouse -- one they think is fashionable.

What fools these mortals be.

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So you have an ugly blouse that costs $500. You should be set for a couple of years for that investment in your vestment, right?

WRONG! Not only is it a $500 blouse, it will be an out of style $500 blouse within a few months because it will be "a new season with new fashion". That expensive item that was sooo haute coture last fall is now something that is most unstylish and not to be caught dead in lest you appear uneducated about fashion!

Gotta love planned obsolescence. I think I'll stick to LL Bean jeans and T-shirts, treasure hunting at Marshalls, an the occasional clearance sale splurge at Talbots when I need business clothes that will still look appropriate three to five years from now.

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I actually disagree with SwirlyGrrl! (Sorry.) Boston has no fashion sense whatsoever; it's not an "educable" matter. I would bet that Mens Wearhouse's Boston stores have the highest sales of blue, short-sleeve button-down shirts in the chain. It's certainly the only city where "casual Fridays" include sports jerseys.

(Speaking of sports jerseys: I don't get that. At all. I'm not into sports, but I am into music. If you show up at the Prince concert, and you're wearing the same clothes Prince is, it doesn't mean you really like Prince. It means you're strange. Also, purple.)

But, I gotta say... this thread kinda demonstrates itself. Attention, Bostonians and suburbanites: Go walk around Cambridge. Take a good look. If you want to look good without spending a lot, THAT is how you do it. Style, individualism, things you never thought anyone could pull off, but they do. Not polo shirts from Marshalls.

And to think, I was going to post because I cracked up at:

"Boston, with its... stylish yuppies, has had better success proving its fashion sense."

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i completely agree with you Jay..boston doesn't have much style and the suburbs, even less so..i grew up in the western burbs, btw..they're really separate topics..you don't have to spend a lot to have style. really.. flannel shirts and sweatpants are not work attire. sorry.

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Fashion - fashion sense - is subjective. What you consider stylish is not necessarily what the guy next to you considers stylish. As with beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.

I have my tastes, you have yours, the next guy has his. You can argue all you want about which city or town has a better sense of fashion than another, but it is not an argument that will be resolved via a simple declaration of your own tastes.

I would no more dictate my tastes upon you than you would want them dictated upon you. Why do you feel that your tastes are somehow superior? If you have good objective reasons for feeling so, please elucidate.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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Why do you feel that your tastes are somehow superior? If you have good objective reasons for feeling so, please elucidate.

My statements are definitive; reality is frequently inaccurate.

Plus, nobody's reading this thread anymore, so I have the last word. So there.

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But some of us check the recent comments list so now *I* have the last word. Bwa ha ha!

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Nyah-Nyah!

(*waggles fingers in ears and sticks out tongue*)

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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you win.

(heheheheheh)

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You mean, like, without making much of a dent in your trust fund?

It's easy to be stylish if you don't have to work for a living. I know some people like to imagine it's difficult, but that's only because they have no experience with actual difficult things - you know, like getting a graduate degree while working full-time, becoming an expert, negotiating and holding a good job...

People who know the value of money because they earned it themselves are less likely either to have time to hang around fashionable clothing stores or to care very much about how strangers regard them in the street. Such pursuits are for those with nothing better to do. If your only avenue for self-regard is your cleverness in selecting things to wear, then you're probably a pretty useless person. Style is, plain and simple, ephemera.

It's true that Bostonians do peculiar things like wear sports logo tshirts to work on Fridays (giving up the tie was bad enough; I balk at giving up the dress shirt). But it doesn't require an in-depth study of Cantabridgians in their funny glasses and pointy shoes to figure out the difference between business casual and slob. That's not a matter of style, but of dressing appropriately for the situation.

So I'll be perfectly unstylish in my button-down shirts and wool trousers, but I draw the line at workplace slobbishness. Dress like where you're going, not where you've been! (especially if that's a shag-carpeted rec room in your mom's basement)

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That is really an appalling story.

The Apple Store, Williams-Sonoma and Nordstrom's are the only reasons to go down that wing.

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"Even if you have money, you may not have taste"

You said it Betty.
And you thought your Winter sales period was cold? Good luck this summer.

UPDATE: Christmas Tree Shops is now offering a free yoga class followed by tapas and juice elixirs.

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Conveniently located across Rte. 9 in low-rent Sherwood Plaza, home of Joan & Ed's Deli.

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Minado's, all you can eat sushi buffet!

It's a little pricey, but hey, I'd rather spend $30 on a good dinner than $100 on a shirt.

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I'm thinking about the condo-buyers. You know, the suburban pioneers, as the Glob dubbed them.

"You just don't see malls like this," said Kellie DuGally, 37, owner of an online sales company in Hudson, who plans to convert one of the penthouse's three bedrooms into a closet for her clothing and shoes. "It's like you're in a luxurious hotel."

I wonder how these suburban pioneers are going to feel when the tumbleweeds start blowing through their dust bowl homestead.

I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning.

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"There has been a culture in the Boston area of that Yankee thriftiness, even when one had money ... [t]hat's changed in the city of Boston but the mentality still resides in the suburbs..."

Y'mean people aren't spending money willy-nilly on expensive upscale clothing and goods? Color me shocked and surprised! I mean, it's not like we're on the cusp of a recession or anything. No, no, it must be because these shoppers actually have the audacity to save money when they can.

I mean, to listen to these flacks spin it, the Natick Collection is floundering because:

1. People are stupid and need to be educated on "style", and
2. People are stupid and saving their money because they're New Englanders.

Bad consumers! Spend more on less! What are ya, thrifty?!

Ultimately, however, I think they also forgot

3. People (especially New Englanders) really hate marketing twonks swooping down and presumptuously telling them what they should want in their community, rather than helping bring about that which they really want or need.

Ah, sweet, sweet schadenfreude, sweet vindication over the presumptions of pretentious pr... prats. I'd dance as the Natick Collection sank under, and I'd even hand out the sheet music to "Nearer My God To Thee".

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All us thrifty New Englanders should clearly be ashamed of ourselves. Don't we know the economy is upside-down now? It's not only stylish but patriotic to waste money. People who buy Costco jeans and no-iron shirts should be publicly humiliated. Not only is cheapness horribly unfashionable, but we're letting down the American financial industry. What's good for CitiCorp is good for the nation! Waste good! Thrift bad! This isn't our parents' war!

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I have only been to the Natick Mall once and, I promise you, it will be my last time. The place is overrun by kids driving beat up cars and wearing sideways baseball hats. Luxury this place aint - its a big mall full of minivan drivers. Not to mention that on the way to the Natick Mall you get the privilege of passing a legion of half-coming half-going mid-range strip malls (including a Laser Tag Arena - WTF?) I'd rather visit Eliot at Jordan's Furniture and enjoy Mardigras in the sleep lab. It just makes me sad that Nordstroms chose to locate in Natick instead of in town where I might actually have made myself a regular.

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oh my! what town where you hoping for Bostonian?

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Probably pays for the valet parking, too. :-).

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Nordstrom would certainly be welcome downtown. Most of their Northwest locations are in downtown areas - like, a square block of Seattle and Portland.

I'm salivating at the possibilities when they get that Nordstrom Rack built in Saugus. I plan to organize a raiding party minivan full of west coast transplants (do they have suction-cup jolly rogers for the back window?).

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So if shopping at Marshall's and the occasional splurge at Talbots is just so 'de trop', that must make me the lowest form of life. Who has any spare cash left now with the mortgage meltdown and everyone's McMansion now worth 100K less than it did last summer?

Doesn't the Glob remember the banking debacle of the early 90s? No one had extra money, then, either. I was working high-end retail on Newbury Street and a lot of stores like those that Natick Collection has now didn't make it. Those customers we did have weren't coming in from Natick or its environs; they were from Manchester and Hamilton and Wenham wearing 30 year old tweeds and sensible shoes.

I do agree that Nordstrom's arrival downtown might have been the kick in the pants that the city needed. Perhaps it would have encouraged other smaller stores and businesses to move in and spruce up the place.

But Nordstrom Rack scares me, and that's saying a lot. I am an old vet of Filene's Basement, (way before they introduced something so newfangled as dressing rooms), but the place is downright insane. There's a location about 20 min outside downtown SF and on a warm Saturday morning it was packed. I had to leave and go to the Marshall's next door just to calm down.

(yes, I've seen the Jolly Roger flags you mention - a Raiders flag could be a suitable substitute)

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everyone loves nordstrom? I know it exists but not much more. educate me! (no, really!)

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I was hoping to find baby something or other that the rude girl at the "concierge" desk had never heard of and that, when I found it in an adjacent strip mall, proved useless. Having been thwarted by Natick's offerings, I fled to my urban home. Malls are home to poorly dressed youths, I know this. I'm just saying that if a mall is going to call itself a "collection" and market itself as a place where you would want to drop $1000 on a pair of shoes it should probably live up to the image - the Copley Plaza Mall (although useless) seems to have achieved this. BTW - The Atrium avoids this problem by apparently striving to elimenate all customers and acting as little more than a weather guard for the Cheescake Factory.

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With that of the self-entitled customers who use two spaces to park their darling SUVs.

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and a bookstore is always a Good and Useful Thing, whether independent or chain.

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There's a Barnes & Noble just down Rte. 9, and you never have to worry about your blood pressure rising there because the people who go there never deliberately take up two spaces.

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Bostonian strikes me as an Escalade driver...so that would be 3 spaces.

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I'll accept what's coming to me for insinuating that I frequent luxury clotheirs (which I don't unless the steals I get on nice shirts at Filene's Basement somehow count). I'll even go so far as to admit that I have been to the Atrium and, indeed, have purchased something there. But to suggest that I drive a school bus! Outrageous madam/sir! I've had all I can stands and I can't stands no more!

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The place is overrun by kids driving beat up cars and wearing sideways baseball hats.

Yeah, because you'd never see that in town.

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And according to the Globe, people who live in Boston, LIKE ME, are suave and sophisticated, unlike the booboisie who infest the suburbs, although I'm a little concerned that the Globe's definition of "sophisticated" is basically "willing to spend thousands of dollars a year on expensive clothing that will be out of date in a year," because I might not be pulling my load here, what with me still wearing T-shirts I got for free from trade shows in 1994 and all.

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Dude. I love a t-shirt as much as the next guy and I'll wear them till they get all crusty around the armpits but there really is no excuse for wearing trade show t-shirts. Ever.
They make excellent rags though.

It's rare that you come across clothing that actually goes "out-of-date" unless it's conspicuously trendy. If you keep the trendy items to a minimum and buy classic/timeless pieces (which also come with outrageous price tags) you'll wear them longer.

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Dammit, somebody has to remember when groupware was groupware :-).

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But then I'd probably have people tell me it should say "Amigo" on account of the fact I'm a guy.

Ah, 1994...nostalgia++

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The advantage of never being fashionable is that you never fall out of fashion.

Current attire: a solid blue brand x polo shirt [$3] at Ocean State Job Lot, 5+ year old store brand jeans from Costco [$12.99], tube socks bought in bulk, let's say [$2]; [$19] cross-trainer high tops from Payless. Total comes to about 1/3 what you'd pay for a T shirt at the trendy boutique mentioned in the article.

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Short sleeve polo from Steve & Barry's [$9]
Wrangler jeans from Target [$15]
Socks from Costco [$2]
Starbury sneakers from Steve & Barry's [$9]

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I believe all the clothing I'm wearing right now is from Sears, right down to my Nikes (I have to admit, however, that the jacket I wore this morning is not from Sears).

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Here's what I'm picturing. Pretty close?

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No more Lileks at work.

I'm wearing
Lee pants from JC Penney,
unbranded shirt from Dress Barn (moo).
Clarks sandels from Famous Footwear ($30 less than retail).

I have been to the Natick Collection exactly once. If nothing else, the bathroom in that part of the building is the nicest public bathroom I have ever been in, ever. I'd go back just to pee.

===========================

From the brains behind http://www.bigdumptruck.com

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I'm guessing on the prices because I don't really remember how much I paid.

Red full zip sweater from Banana Republic [$35]
Black graphic t-shirt from Express Mens [$15]
Dark wash boot cut jeans from Banana Republic [$78]
Ankle socks from Target [$12 for 6 pairs]
Brown skechers from DSW [$45]

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Long-sleeve T from Target Close out rack: $2.50
LL Bean basic jeans: $19.99 (about 3 years ago)
Costco Underwear: $7.99/4 pair
Bra - Filene's Basement Closing Price $7.99
Socks: so old that I can't remember
Shoes: $39.99 Merill Mocs (List $90) from Sierra Trading Post(cheap shoes are no bargain for me - I kill either them or my feet or both in a day)

Last week in business drag:
White Suit Pants: $16.99
matching Carole Little black/white graphic jacket $24.99 (both from marshalls)
Black Pima Cotton Top: LL Bean $14.99 (vintage 2006)
Bra: $16 (2 for 1 sale) from Cacique (a wonder of engineering,that)
Undies 4/$8 at costco
Pumps: Clarks $26 at NH Outlet store (also vintage 2006)

Explain why I need to spend more than this on anything? Full price is for sitheez! I do admit to spending good money on shoes and bras, as both require special sizing and need to be comfortable, fit well, and last a long time.

And, yes, I own a sewing machine. I actually made most of my maternity clothing from remnants off the discount table at Fabric Place as I didn't like the price or quality of the stuff I found in the stores.

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costco undies are hot!

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buys his underwear at K-Mart

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Breathable, washable, neither hot nor cold. Just right.

I'm sure I could buy the same thing at Drektoria's Secret for $15.99 in a girly print that would show through the white pants, but why bother?

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I'm picturing the Simpson's episode where Marge remade the couture suit she'd bought on sale so that she could keep wearing it to different events. If I paid $500 for a shirt I'd have to wear it every day.

===========================

From the brains behind http://www.bigdumptruck.com

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The article gave me a good chuckle too. I don't think that the problems that the newly expanded mega-mall is having have anything to do with puritanical New England fiscal conservatism or fashion sense. I don't make a lot of money (fresh out of school), so my liking $900 prada shoes that I have no place to wear means that I just flat can't buy them.

For those that can afford such things, the timing is just wrong. As prices for oil and food rise and the economy remains unstable, many people, wealthy or not, are doing the smart thing and saving money, protecting their investments (because, lets face it, most luxury clothing items will never appreciate in value), and spending smartly.

When the economy rises again, as it inevitably will, in a few years, then places like the Natick Collection will flourish again and people won't bat an eye at paying $100 for a cotton T-Shirt from Nieman Marcus. The decision of the Natick collection to expand and upgrade was a good one, the timing just could not have been worse. But if it can survive the next few years, then it'll likely experience great profits when the money starts to flow again.

So, Boston Globe, don't assume that we all just look bad and go to church. Maybe we just know that this particular time would be better spent saving. After all, the $100 T shirt or $900 shoes won't offer a lot of comfort to anyone who is getting their house foreclosed on, not do they count as an asset when you go file chapter 13.

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that's what they get for renaming it the "Collection"

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