COMMENTARY | Lady Gaga’s Workshop at Barneys New York opened at the stroke of midnight after a day of festivities including a Gaga-led ribbon cutting featuring the star wearing a custom Chanel gown designed by Karl Lagerfeld. Within the full-skirted masterpiece the Mother Monster looked every bit the Christmas angel, but the inside of Gaga’s Workshop has a decidedly different tone. It looks like a cross between a version of candy land gone heavy metal and a really trippy Tim Burton film shot when the director was not quite himself.
Barneys has put forth a great deal of effort and expense to ensure that Gaga’s Workshop rocks the socks off of any shopper who happens to journey into the pop superstar’s land of Christmas make-believe, but the experience may die at this point for many shoppers. Considering the price tags many of the items carry, they will be cost prohibitive for all but the most devout and somewhat affluent fans of Lady Gaga. Unless a teenager wants to shell out $15.00 for a Lady Gaga face cookie featuring her telephone hat or the same price for a tin of organic tea, there isn’t much for many of the “Born This Way” star’s “Little Monsters” to grab without begging for financial assistance from Mom and Dad.
It is possible that these items are being offered as a nod to the lower-income purse strings many shoppers are struggling with during the recession, and that the store is banking on a real return with a different age group. Older customers who happen to venture into Gaga’s Workshop may find themselves taken with some of the exclusive jewelry carried in one of the venue’s eight shopping stations. The necklaces in this store within a store range in price from $1,305 to $1,530. If Barneys’ could sell several hundred of these pieces, they may just break even on this display.
Of course, that is presuming the point is to break even. Given the extremely kitschy nature of many of the products sold in Gaga’s Workshop until the higher-end price point is reached, and considering that those who can afford the high-end prices would likely be attracted to a different type of product, one has to consider the possibility that Barneys’ doesn’t care too much about Gaga’s Workshop itself bringing in the money. Instead, it is likely that Barneys’ sees the workshop as a way to bring in foot traffic from curiosity-seekers who may choose to plunk down serious change in the other areas of the store.
However, retailers such as Barneys New York shouldn’t require that much help. According to the New York Times, luxury good sales are one of the few areas of the American economy still zooming along, and Barneys caters to high rollers of Manhattan both online and in-store. Until sales figures and traffic numbers from Gaga’s Workshop hit the streets that illustrate an alternate scenario, this is one collaboration that sounds hot in theory but doesn’t make much sense on paper.