New York Stays Solid in Great Depression-ish Recession

As the rest of the Country suffers through the poor economic state, Manhattan appears unscathed. Of course, appearances may be somewhat deceiving but after what we saw this past weekend in New York City, it seems like wealthy New Yorker’s haven’t had to scale back at all. Mayor Michael Bloomberg since taking office in 2002, managed to turn the big city’s $6 billion deficit into a $3 billion surplus. We are starting to believe Bloomberg is a magician. He launched a program called Opportunity NYC which is the nation’s first-ever conditional cash transfer pilot program to help New Yorkers break the cycle of poverty in Manhattan. Bloomberg also instituted a $7.5 billion municipal affordable housing plan, the largest in the nation, providing 500,000 New Yorkers with housing. Bloomberg is concerned about poverty and growing class divisions. He believes that our "Society cannot go forward, the way we have been going forward, where the gap between the rich and the poor keeps growing." Then again, maybe New York is just depression retardent.

When we say the city is unscathed it has a lot to do with our experience last weekend. All we saw was big dinner bills, crowded five star hotels and mega-shopping sprees engulfing us.  The famous flagship store Saks Fifth Avenue on Fifth and 49th already occupied an entire city block and didn’t need but got a new expansion. The entire eighth floor now houses an epic high-end shoe collection, one of the biggest ever.  The "shoe" floor is actually so huge it has its own zip code, no joke.  Stocked through with Christian Louboutin, Prada, Valentino, Miu Miu, Giuseppe Zanotti, and Chanel, get the point yet? It’s bananas, a gluttonous array of stilettos, boots, sandals, high heels, etc. Roger Vivier’s for $575 to $1,700 gold lizard Christian Louboutin’s and those were modest, rich girls go crazy!

For the ultra wealthy man, we didn’t forget you. New York City has plenty that guys were splurging on, like an $18,000 table at Tenjune nightclub.  What really caught our attention, though, was the brand new Tom Ford for Men store at 845 Madison Avenue and 70th Street. The two-story, 10,000-sqaure-foot flagship was a glorified bachelor pad, dripping with sex. Since saving the Gucci House with his sexually provocative designs, then departing in 2004, Tom Ford has re-entered the fashion world with a bang of luxurious menswear. 

Prices are unapologetically exorbitant, a move that makes materialism and self-indulgence blush. Off-the-rack suits started at $3,000, a dinner jacket for $5,690 and beaver top hat with price upon request.  There are cashmere-silk-blend sweaters, noir-color trench coats for $3,990, Chelsea boots for $1,390, oh and crocodile boots for $13,900. Day shirts range from $350 to $795 plus, and are available in two body shapes, 10 collars, two cuffs (barrel or French), 350 colors and 35 fabrics. That is 400,000 different day shirts before you even consider monogramming. If you can’t find what you want (which we doubt) or just want to spend more money, customize your Tom Ford. Yup, anything from Tom Ford underwear to fragrances can be customized to fit you and your taste. 

Forget the clothes for a moment, a cast-bronze crocodile reception desk sits in the store entrance, beaver rugs run rampant throughout (wink), and Lucio Fontant artwork decks the walls. Not to mention, the numerous ateliers, butlers, seamstresses and maids constantly walking the luxurious premise only to service you. There’s a secret elevator with upholstered walls, fireplaces, a bar and silk smoking jackets for $3,900,  which Mr. Ford refers to as dressing gowns. Tom Ford has essentially created a new version of luxury that doesn’t take into account a poor economy outside the city.

Is this a clear picture of just how unaffected the city seems? Whether it’s Bloomberg, highly concentrated pockets of wealth, or magic, New York City seems to be in an unbreakable bubble of prosperity. The rich are still rich in New York and staying that way.