This year, some 30 high-end retailers have opened boutiques in Austin, including Tiffany & Co., Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, David Yurman, Louis Vuitton and Burberry. These names -- the vast majority represented in Austin for the first time -- are among the retail tenants of a $250 million shopping and residential complex, Domain, that Indianapolis-based developer Simon Property Group Inc. opened in March. Neiman Marcus, which has exclusive rights to sell Chanel and other labels here, is the anchor tenant.
Well, it's about time. There is a lot of money in Austin, and there hasn't been much to spend that money on, at least in the realm of luxury clothing and accessories. Consequently, a lot of that money has been spent in Dallas and Houston: according to the article, Neiman-Marcus tracks purchases made at all of its stores by ZIP code, and they found that Austinites were reliable purchasers of NM's merchandise, and not just what they sold at the Austin Last Call outlet. The article attributes some of this luxury expansion in Austin to the philanthropizing of the Austin social scene, where gala balls and the like have become a significant source of income for Austin's non-profit organizations. Well, that and the influx of Yankees who aren't comfortable wearing nonstop tee shirts, cargo shorts, and flip-flops.
Another aspect to this that the article touches on but does not really go into deeply is that the luxury conglomerates have to expand into Austin and cities like Austin if they're going to expand at all. They've already expanded into all of the larger cities in the US. The smaller cities are all that's left, and Austin has to be at the top of any list of smaller cities in the US.