Rich shoppers ask for unmarked bags to hide extravagance
As grocery store shoppers get comfortable bringing their own reusable totes to carry home their purchases (obviating the once-obvious superiority of bags from an upscale grocery store), the wealthy are finding another reason that handfuls of colorful shopping bags are no longer the most wonderful thing to be hanging from one's hand around the holidays. For wealthy customers, it's a desire not to see, and to be unseen; for those whose pockets aren't quite as full, it's just a matter of planet-consciousness.
Instead of showing solidarity with the less fortunate, however, I think the unmarked bag trick goes somewhere else: into a place where the doors to the club of the super-rich is even more unassailable. Now it's the aspirational folk who want their purchases to be flaunted, whereas the real money wink-winks at one another. White bag on the arm of the wife of a fallen executive? If you know, you know where she's been shopping. She won't make headlines. But her Park Avenue neighbors can nod their heads in affirmation. Kathleen's ok, they are saying. She's just not going to shove it in the faces of all those penniless Lehman stockholders -- and the rest of the U.S. taxpayer base, bailing those poor CEOs out, and fueling the next clandestine shopping trip.