How much would you pay for sweatpants? You know, those tattered cotton rags that your unshowered self wears all weekend while you binge on Netflix, ice cream and gossip columns? Maybe six bucks, or a little more for a super-sexy pair like these sold at Kmart?
At Bergdorf Goodman, the fussy Fifth Avenue fortress frequented by the elite, a similar pair of cotton -- yes, cotton -- sweatpants could cost you as much as $1,200.
No joke. These "designer" sweatpants made of “cotton/polyamide” (polyamide is a fancy word for nylon, by the way) in heather grey with run-of-the-mill elastic waistband and ankle cuffs, by Brunello Cucinelli, go for $1,170 at Bergdorf’s.
And, of course, like any good fashionista, you’d pair those stylish heather grey sweats with a $1,870 bowling bag, a $435 tank top, a $2,125 short-sleeved sweater (which would definitely keep you warm during the Polar Vortex) your grandma could crochet for $2.99, and bracelets that look like they're made of plastic for more than $500.
But why, in the name of Anna Wintour, do these sweatpants cost more than my rent in New York City?
According to Marcia Flicker, associate professor and program director for the MS in Business Enterprise at Fordham University, this is all part of the luxury retailer’s game plan.
“Bergdorf Goodman targets the top 2 percent by income. These are people who want exclusivity—and they attain it by going places, doing things and wearing things that only those ‘in the know’ will recognize as luxury,” Flicker said. “They wear cashmere sweats, about as practical for working out as the leather cuffs of these cotton pants. It sends the message that they can afford the best and don't necessarily have to worry about practicality.”
Based on appearance alone, the appeal of these sweatpants certainly can’t be the undistinguished “adjustable drawstring waistband” or the “side pockets and back welt pockets.”
Perhaps it’s because said sweatpants are made in Italy in “the countryside of Umbria, where Brunello Cucinelli calls home.” According to the company bio, the Brunello Cucinelli brand is based in a “restored 14th century castle in Solomeo.”
I'm a fashion maven, but I'll admit I’m not sure exactly who Cucinelli is, so it's fair to say the masses aren’t as attuned to him as they are to, say, Michael Kors — but even these sweats from Lanvin, a highly respected French fashion house touted by celebrities and headed by the legendary Alber Elbaz, cost less (at $750).
Or maybe the Cucinelli sweatpants are worth so much because of their “sparkly Monili side-stripe,” bejeweled by Dubai-based luxury jewelry brand Monili.
And you thought the rhinestone Juicy Couture velour track pants for $98 were a joke.