* Quilted, shimmer-coated, pebbled leather with golden hardware.
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* Engraved metal logo plate at bag front.
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* Inside, fabric lining; two zip and two open pockets.
* 10 1/2"H x 13"W ...
by Pamela Paul Pushchairs that cost as much as a second hand car, 1,000 nappy bags and private members' clubs for toddlers Whatever next? In this extract from her gripping new book about the commodification of childhood, Pamela Paul examines where it all began and, more worryingly, how it might end Pamela Paul asks if educational toys are doing children final sale kate spade more harm than good Perhaps it all started with the Bugaboo.
In 2004, when People magazine showed a picture of that maternal goddess Gwyneth Paltrow pushing baby Apple in a Bugaboo, those of us who were once content to putter along with a standard pushchair suddenly felt as if we were not the best parents we could be. We were has beens. Cheapskates. Somehow our parenting instincts were no longer as sharp. Soon we were surrounded by other Bugaboo pushing celebrities and smart urban couples. Everyone who was anyone maternity wise suddenly had a Bugaboo. And then even those of us who weren't anyone in particular decided we needed one, too. The Bugaboo wasn't just a business success; it was a social and cultural achievement. When Bugaboos were first launched on the international market in 2003 people in the industry doubted anyone would cough up 360 for a buggy. But the nay sayers turned out to be fools. Sales of Bugaboos doubled between 2003 and 2004. With its boxy design and bright colours, it looked nothing like the traditional pushchair. It had wheel suspension and pneumatic tyres. It was high tech yet user friendly. Unusual yet instantly comprehensible. It was also super cute, with a bouncy logo and catchy kate spade 75 off sale name the buggy equivalent of the Mini Cooper or the Volkswagen Beetle. When an episode of Sex and the City featured Miranda pushing her child in one, it created a frenzy of interest, even before they became available outside Holland (where they originated). Now swarms of designer pushchairs buzz around towns and suburbs, and established manufacturers have scrambled to compete: Maclaren licensed new fabric designs from Burberry, Kate Spade and Lulu Guinness and commissioned Philippe Starck to create a new line. Even the rock star Jon Bon Jovi has designed a buggy. The past decade has seen an explosion of luxury offerings for 'crib consumers'. And while America set the trend, Britain is close behind. When you have lived a life of luxury before parenthood as today's older, wealthier parents often have why not splurge on a nursery that complements the taste and effort that have gone into the rest of your home? When the rich spend more on their children, it drives everyone's costs up. The InStyle isation of parenthood means that the entire category of children's goods is influenced by a small number of luxury consumers. Business Week described an emerging class of middle and upper income mothers who 'no matter their income spend like lottery winners on their babies and toddlers'. Even everyday essentials have become infused with a designer aesthetic, with prices to match. Louis Vuitton sells a 1,000 nappy bag; Christian Dior offers not only a 20 dummy, but a logo covered bottle as well. Ali Wing, the founder of the online children's shop Giggle, believes that the rise of designer baby goods can be traced to what she calls a 'psychographic' shift. Earlier generations had children at the same time they were setting up their first home, cultivating their first relationship and navigating the start of their careers. Today older, successful parents have a better sense of who they are and fit children into already established lives, rather than cobbling new lives around them. Call it 'lifestyle parenting'. At Citibabes, an exclusive club for parents in New York, I am greeted by the security guard as if he was the matre d' of a four star restaurant and I had arrived barefoot and with body odour. I do not have the necessary membership card, so I am shunted aside as lip glossed mothers with sleek blonde ponytails and Tibetan nannies push past, their charges squealing and kicking in high tech buggies. To rightfully enter Citibabes (for 'We Parents and Wee Children') and indulge in its privileges, one must pay 1,000 for an annual membership, plus 3,125 for the 'unlimited' package which includes spa services, fitness classes, children's classes, adult classes and childcare; otherwise it's la carte, and the services aren't cheap. Cost, however, is not an obstacle for most Citibabes parents, who may join only if referred by an existing member. If you can get past its panel composed of top fashion magazine editors, designers and society names, including Brooke and Gwyneth the assumption is you can afford it. Once inside, I am welcomed by the co founders, Tracey Frost Rensky and Tara Gordon Lipton. Slim and attractive, with long blonde hair and glowing complexions, they are flawlessly groomed and calmly confident. Despite having given birth only weeks before, Gordon Lipton is tucked into a pair of dark skinny jeans and a close fitting top. They each resemble, in fact, Citibabes' logo a silhouette of a leggy supermodel mum steering a sleek pushchair, presumably into a blissful future of top tier prep schools and family holidays abroad. Gordon Lipton and Frost Rensky were each working on similar ideas for a deluxe baby club when they were introduced by friends and kate spade black handbag sale teamed up. Their goal was to create a place where parents don't have to choose between doing things for themselves and doing something for their children. 'Now parents can do both, in a stylish and sophisticated environment,' the sleek membership packet says. Frost Rensky, an Australian who used to work in finance, concentrated on the adult side of the club; Gordon Lipton, a New Yorker with a master's degree in early childhood education and two children of her own, took charge of the children's side. Citibabes is part of a growing trend across America. More parents are paying to keep their children out of playgrounds and informal playgroups and instead enrolling in smart clubs and corporate play areas. This trend is most visible in New York, where parenting has been transformed by profound social, cultural and economic changes in the past ten years. The rich are earning more and having more children. The landscape of kiddie size New York has been altered by this influx of well to do infants. Music classes, junior football leagues and kindergartens fill months in advance, driving up prices. Pushchairs jam the pavements of Madison Avenue and Greenwich Village. Tribeca, home to multimillion dollar lofts, has been dubbed Triburbia, and even the snootiest women's boutiques in the area devote part of their shops to chic infant clothing. Now clubs that have succeeded in New York are expanding so that parents in San Francisco, Chicago and other cities can enjoy the baby luxe life. Frost Rensky and Gordon Lipton usher me around Citibabes' immaculate 10,000sq ft loft space, with its 24 hour security surveillance and a photo ID system. (The staff has submitted to extensive background checks by Bo Dietl, a much decorated former police officer and now a famous private investigator whose autobiography was turned into a film.) 'As you can see, it's like a country club,' Gordon Lipton says. 'You can do everything here.' At one end is a lounge with fashion magazines, business services and wireless internet access; a spa, which can be hired for girls' manicure parties; and an exercise room with the latest gym equipment and flat screen televisions. There are regular parenting classes, lunchtime lectures and toddler fashion shows. Classrooms and playrooms line the halls and open on to a huge indoor playground. "At the other end of the club is a caf and, behind the pushchair park, a boutique filled with children's clothing, toys and babycare accessories 'the best of the best', as Lipton describes it. In a city where most families live in flats without gardens, Citibabes has an obvious appeal to those who can afford it. The club is full at 600 members and has a waiting list. The benefits for children, says Gordon Lipton, are huge: 'They make friends in a warm, nurturing environment. Children are exposed to all these classes at Citibabes, classes that set the foundation for learning for life. At Citibabes, children learn life lessons.' It is important to question what 'life lessons' children might learn at an exclusive junior country club, because Citibabes is part of a new cult of parenthood. Clearly, people who indulge their babies with cashmere blankets and designer clothes don't set out to harm them. Yet many parents in this country as well as America have started to fetishise children and family in ways that aren't particularly healthy. They not only photograph and videotape children incessantly but also dress them up and surround them with exquisite objects, spending unconscionable amounts of money adorning them for themselves and others to admire. Websites and blogs are now devoted to their every burp and articulation. 'Children may grow up to view normal mistakes as glaring and unacceptable.' Lisa Spiegel, the co founder of the SoHo Parenting Center in New York, has worked with parents for more than 20 years. 'The culture has become so child centred that it can be stultifying to the family,' she says. 'If every moment we as parents spend with our child, if every single little interaction is where to buy kate spade handbags precious, then that creates an enormous amount of pressure, both for parents and for kids. 'There's never going to be a headline that says, "Your baby lying down and staring at a plant is great,"' Spiegel adds.
'There's nothing to sell in that. Parents aren't hearing enough commonsense information about how human beings grow. They need so much less than parents are led to believe.
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