Fancy brands look to mass retail for lessons in survival


It wasn't all that long ago that luxury retailers were able to float from fiscal year to fiscal year with relative ease, banking on their customers' costly whims and coasting on their platinum reputations.

But now, by all accounts, those days are over -- maybe forever. And high-end brands have to figure out where they fit into the new order of consumerism.

One thing's for sure: simply slashing prices isn't an option. "Putting a sale sign on the same old product leaves the customer feeling compromised," Paul Raffin, CEO of Frette -- the Italian linen maker famous for $1,500 sheets -- told me in an interview. "Playing it safe is a sure path to failure."

Originally published