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Hey, Dallas: Look who's upscale now
Houston Chronicle ^ | Aug. 13, 2005 | DAVID KAPLAN

Posted on 08/14/2005 6:08:10 AM PDT by Shawndell Green

Houston is coming into its own as a center for style and fashion

If 25 years ago, you picked up a national magazine and looked at ads for luxury retailers, chances are they'd be touting stores in cities like London, Paris, New York, San Francisco and Dallas.

Dallas — but not Houston.

Today, Houston is more likely to be included among the list of chichi towns.

Theories on how Dallas got the luxury jump on Houston are numerous:

Dallas is the headquarters of retail powerhouse Neiman Marcus. Dallas is the site of a major wholesale apparel mart. Dallas has more conspicuous consumption. The TV show Dallas gave its namesake Hollywood cachet.

While Dallas has traditionally held an upscale retail advantage over Houston, industry analysts say the dynamic is changing, partly because of the status of the Houston Galleria and Houston's growing reputation as an international city.

Similarly, a perception that Houston is less sophisticated than Dallas may also be fading.

"Historically, Dallas has had a higher fashion profile, but it's probably changing and Houston is coming up," said Holly Haber, Dallas bureau chief of Women's Wear Daily. She noted that a recent spread in W magazine featured Houston socialites.

"Houston has had such a spate of designer stores opening," she said.

In the Houston Galleria, Louis Vuitton expanded and became a "global store," with the full collection of Vuitton's offerings. In Dallas, Vuitton has no global store, she said.

Catching up with Dallas can't happen overnight, though. For decades, Dallas has been a regional center for fashion.

The Dallas Market Center, a wholesale merchandising mart that's larger than the Pentagon, does more than $7.5 billion in apparel and accessories, gift, and home decor transactions annually.

The apparel mart is a viable part of the Dallas economy, Haber said. Another arm of the apparel industry, manufacturing, was once active in Dallas, but its role has greatly diminished, she said, although Fossil and Haggar still manufacture there.

Another reason Dallas is style-minded: "Neiman Marcus was born and bred here and gained an international reputation as a retail icon. It put Dallas on the map," Haber said.

Dallas became more fashion-conscious than Houston because it had to, according to Bill Beckhart, senior vice president of the Better Business Bureau, Dallas.

"Dallas has no natural resource reason for being. It's not a port town, for example," he said. "Dallas is a marketing city, and we have a lot of marketing and advertising people who know that presentation and appearance are very important."

Dallas considers both Houston and Fort Worth to be its rivals, Beckhart observed. Dallas has differentiated itself as the fashion and style center of the Southwest, while Fort Worth became the "gateway to the West," and Houston became the oil capital.

Houston, he said, cultivated the "roustabout image, the rough and tumble part of the oil industry." In comparison, "the oil people in Dallas are more low-key."

Picking Dallas first Among the designer stores that came to Dallas before Houston are Calvin Klein, Prada, Escada, St. John and Chanel.

Dallas also benefits from having a concentration of high-net-worth consumers in one area, said Dennis Telzrow, a research analyst at Stephens, a banking and investment firm. Dallas houses many of its rich in Highland Park, he said, while Houston's wealthy are more spread out. High-end retailers feel more confident opening in an area that is surrounded by vast numbers of affluent consumers.

However, real estate agent John Daugherty noted that inside the Loop, Houston has a collection of high-end neighborhoods, including River Oaks, the Museum District, West University and Southgate.

Houston may be geographically more expansive than Dallas, but in terms of luxury retail, it's more centralized, said Greg Vlahos, vice president of leasing at Simon Property Group, owners of the Houston Galleria.

The central location he happened to be referring to is the Galleria, particularly, he said, since 2003, when the mall reconfigured itself to create a luxury retail corridor.

The Houston Galleria features Versace, Fendi, Gucci, Christian Dior, Jimmy Choo, Luca Luca, Bulgari, Kate Spade and many more upscale retailers.

Recently, two high-end retailers decided to open in Houston before Dallas — Carolina Herrera and Salvatore Ferragamo — and each chose the Galleria.

The Houston Galleria has "huge pull," even for consumers who are far from it, said David Szymanski, director of the Center for Retail Studies at Texas A&M University.

An international outlook Working in Houston's favor is that it is more of an international city than Dallas, said Jeff Munger, director of research at the Lionstone Group, a local real estate investment firm.

Just as important, Houston's Galleria has established itself as "the international gateway for high-end shoppers from Mexico, Central and South America," Munger said. "If I'm a designer in Milan or Paris or even New York, I might be just as inclined, if not more so, to have a location in Houston as I would Dallas" to reach Latin American customers.

Simon's Vlahos agreed that Houston's ethnic diversity is "a great plus" from a high-end retail perspective.

Houston and Dallas are similar in terms of income, cost of living and disposable income, Munger noted.

Beth Moore, CEO of Ad Hoc the Placement Co., a legal staffing firm and member of the Chronicle's Best Dressed Hall of Fame, said Houston's luxury retail scene has rapidly improved.

As recently as three to five years ago, "I felt like I was getting a bigger picture if I went out of the city to shop," she said.

Now she can meet all her fashion needs in Houston, she said, particularly at the Galleria, Tootsie's and Highland Village.

At the lifestyle center Market Street in The Woodlands, meanwhile, Tommy Bahama recently opened a combination tropical café and clothing boutique.

It's the company's first "compound" in Texas and the first to open in a non-resort city.

Overcoming stereotypes Houston could be overcoming some long-held stereotypes.

In the past, it was perceived as the home of "big hair and cowboy boots," but no longer, Szymanski said. "High-end retailers are saying: 'Here's a market opportunity we haven't mined in the past,' particularly as oil continues to boom."

However, Wulfe & Co. urban broker Monte Large believes many high-end retailers still think that "Dallas is the place to go" in the region.

He tried to lure to Houston an international contemporary lighting chain called Artemide that has locations in 13 U.S. cities, including Dallas, but "they don't see Houston as sophisticated. They'd be perfect for Houston."

And Nobu, a trendy sushi restaurant with locations in places such as Milan and London, recently made Dallas its eighth city and its first in Texas.

Dallas is considered more hip, because it's often compared with Los Angeles, but in terms of culture and sophistication, it and Houston are equals, according to Benji Homsey, senior project manager of the Hotel ZaZa in Dallas.

ZaZa will open its second location in Houston at the site of the Warwick Hotel.

The three-year-old ZaZa in Dallas has an eclectic, urban decor. Some of its rooms have themes, including Rock Star, Crouching Tiger, Erotica, Zen and Shagadelic.

"The international aspect of Houston, its size, and the business opportunities are very attractive to us," he said.

Restaurateurs take notice Upscale restaurateurs also are noticing Houston.

Before opening the Strip House steakhouse in downtown Houston last fall, "we did a lot of investigating on Houston and spending patterns," said Penny Glazier, who heads the Glazier Group restaurant chain.

"Houstonians know good food and wine and are sophisticated people," she said. "They eat out more than anyone else."

Phil Suarez, who with chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten owns restaurants in New York, Hong Kong, London and other cosmopolitan cities, opened the restaurant Bank Jean-Georges inside the Hotel Icon in downtown Houston last year because he "liked the idea of the new downtown, the new dynamics of Houston, the new train."

Does Dallas recognize that its rival down south may be coming into its own as a fashion-minded, cosmopolitan city?

"The attitude in Dallas is that we beat Houston so bad it's not close," said David Levine, a principal with Dallas-based HSM Urban Partners.

"I don't feel that way," he said. "A lot of Dallasites don't even know what's going on in Houston."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: chichi; classy; dallas; highbrow; houston; snappydressers; sophisticated
We be cool.
1 posted on 08/14/2005 6:08:10 AM PDT by Shawndell Green
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To: Shawndell Green
Today, Houston is more likely to be included among the list of chichi towns.

If I ever find myself living in a "chichi town," I'll move!

2 posted on 08/14/2005 6:13:36 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Liberals: Too stupid to realize Dick Cheney is the real Dark Lord.)
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To: Shawndell Green
I have another shocker.
Are you ready?
Here goes.

San Francisco is now the NINTH most liberal city in the country, not the first or second. Harhar. Money always trumps everything else. That and now San Francisco is 1/3 Chinese and they aren't liberal.

Detroit is numbah one liberal city. Berkeley is numbah two. No shock there, except that they really should be nunbah one.

3 posted on 08/14/2005 6:14:49 AM PDT by starfish923
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To: Tax-chick

LOL - that one got me too


4 posted on 08/14/2005 6:16:00 AM PDT by Txslady
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To: pax_et_bonum; Xenalyte; humblegunner; Flyer; Bacon Man; Hap; Eaker

A "Hey look, we can go around with our noses in the air acting all snooty and stuff now" PING.


5 posted on 08/14/2005 6:16:20 AM PDT by Allegra (Escaped to the REAL WORLD for a Bit! YES! Sweet Freedom!)
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To: Shawndell Green
We be cool.

Yep, you be cool.

6 posted on 08/14/2005 6:16:45 AM PDT by starfish923
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To: Tax-chick
"Chichi" simply means that your downtown stores are outrageously expensive with stuff only millionaires can afford and only idiots buy (doesn't count big sales).

Waikiki's Kalakauwa (sp?) Avenue has more and more chichi stores.
I stroll in there to look-see at Tiffany's. The only people I can talk with are the help. Everyone else is Japanese.

7 posted on 08/14/2005 6:21:14 AM PDT by starfish923
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To: Tax-chick
"chichi town"

I like to visit chichi towns, but I would not want to live in one.
8 posted on 08/14/2005 6:23:41 AM PDT by Shawndell Green (Mecca delenda est!)
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To: starfish923

We're getting a new Super Wal-mart!


9 posted on 08/14/2005 6:24:34 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Liberals: Too stupid to realize Dick Cheney is the real Dark Lord.)
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To: starfish923
Detroit is numbah one liberal city.

Detroit is Starnesville come to life

10 posted on 08/14/2005 6:25:13 AM PDT by Tribune7
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To: Shawndell Green
We be cool.

You be humid. (And you smell like a refinery.)

11 posted on 08/14/2005 6:25:27 AM PDT by TexasNative2000 (When it's all said and done, someone starts another conversation.)
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To: All
New Mexico sez...

HA HA!

12 posted on 08/14/2005 6:28:01 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim (Now that taglines are cool, I refuse to have one.)
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To: Allegra; humblegunner

Will they be interviewing Humblegunner about his high-heeled tennis shoes?

Can a career at Victoria Secret be far behind? LOL


13 posted on 08/14/2005 6:30:23 AM PDT by Smartaleck
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To: TexasNative2000
You be humid. (And you smell like a refinery.)

Ah, Houston, where you can die of heat exhaustion when it is 80 degrees.

On the plus side, the humidity keeps skin looking younger longer.

14 posted on 08/14/2005 6:30:56 AM PDT by hopespringseternal (</i>)
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To: TexasNative2000
"You be humid."

True, I was sweating like a pig whilst mowing the lawn yesterday. I got started a little too late in the morning, since it rained overnight and I waited for the sun to come out and dry the grass.

But I lived in Sanger, north of Dallas, for more than five years, and even though it was not as humid, it was still plenty hot in all summer and not only is Dallas hotter than heck all summer, when the fronts move through in the winter and that wind kicks up, it can get darn cold in the winter, at least cold enough to have one or two ice storms every year.


"And you smell like a refinery."

Only in the morning, after the refineries do their thing in the middle of the night and before the odor dissipates. All that money has to come from somewhere.
15 posted on 08/14/2005 6:32:56 AM PDT by Shawndell Green (Mecca delenda est!)
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To: Shawndell Green

"Today, Houston is more likely to be included among the list of chichi towns."

I do believe the silicone implant was invented in Houston, so this idea that Houston is just now being known as a chichi town is a surprise.


16 posted on 08/14/2005 6:34:47 AM PDT by nhoward14
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To: nhoward14
"I do believe the silicone implant was invented in Houston, so this idea that Houston is just now being known as a chichi town is a surprise."

Apparently, that was not enough to include us among the other chichi towns. It took the increasingly international character of the city to vault us among the universally admired chichi towns, although I suppose we will have to do something about our billboards if we really want to made to the top tier of chichi towns.
17 posted on 08/14/2005 6:42:43 AM PDT by Shawndell Green (Mecca delenda est!)
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To: TexasNative2000
You be humid. (And you smell like a refinery.)

I thought that would be YEW-ston that had the eau d'refinery.

18 posted on 08/14/2005 6:43:00 AM PDT by starfish923
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To: Tax-chick
We're getting a new Super Wal-mart!

Now THAT is cool.

19 posted on 08/14/2005 6:43:47 AM PDT by starfish923
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To: TexasNative2000
(And you smell like a refinery.)

Smells like money.

20 posted on 08/14/2005 6:45:09 AM PDT by humblegunner (If you're gonna die, die with your boots on.)
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To: humblegunner

Picturing you outside a Texas City Refinery leading the orientation of new hires:

"I love the smell of petroleum in the morning! It smells like... victory!"


21 posted on 08/14/2005 6:47:32 AM PDT by nhoward14
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To: Tax-chick
If I ever find myself living in a "chichi town," I'll move!

I did. I did. To The Middle of Nowhere! I love it here!

22 posted on 08/14/2005 6:49:50 AM PDT by Savage Beast (Love is the ultimate aphrodisiac!)
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To: Shawndell Green

Style and fashion are much overrated.


23 posted on 08/14/2005 7:15:46 AM PDT by AmericanChef
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To: Shawndell Green
I've lived in Dallas for many, many years and never thought of It as a "classy" town. I don't think there is a city in America that has more political problems with the city gov, school board, county gov, as Dallas, TX.

My heart is in Texas, and always will be. There is NO place on earth that has people like Texans. From El Paso, to Houston, they are the best people on earth.

24 posted on 08/14/2005 7:20:27 AM PDT by devane617
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To: TexasNative2000

That smell is Pasadena drifting into Houston.


25 posted on 08/14/2005 7:40:22 AM PDT by Savage Rider
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To: devane617

In Plano, adjacent to Dallas, I saw road crews out on Sunday morning cleaning the major intersections of all the trash that collects along the curbs. They were even washing the orange and white construction barrels. That is one clean city.


26 posted on 08/14/2005 7:43:09 AM PDT by Savage Rider
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To: Savage Rider
Yea, it is. I lived in Plano from the early 80's when it was a big cow pasture until about two years ago. I moved to Tarpon Springs, FL. I voted for W in the last election in FL and within three months sold my house and moved back to Plano, TX. I really enjoyed being able to fish in the gulf in FL and of course the great weather -- with a few exceptions. AS you know, in this part of TX it is HOT and COLD, and not much in between. Also, I really miss FL's fun places. You could always, year-round, find places to smoke a cigar and drink a beer while listening to music by the gulf. Here in this part of TX cultural activity/night life is almost unheard of.

Overall, I love the people of TX and the downside is worth the upside.

27 posted on 08/14/2005 8:14:04 AM PDT by devane617
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To: Shawndell Green

Houston eats out more. Yeah, right. Sonic drivein, etc.


28 posted on 08/14/2005 8:24:28 AM PDT by freekitty
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To: freekitty
Houston is per capita the fattest city in the country and has held that position for many years. Dallas is second. However, Dallas has more restaurants per capita than any city in the country.
29 posted on 08/14/2005 9:06:19 AM PDT by devane617
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To: Tribune7

The King of Detroit, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, has run up $210,000 on the city’s credit card to feed, clothe and travel with his royal entourage.

The report by the Detroit Free Press tells that his royal highness gorged on king crab, lobster and steaks at various luminary restaurants in New York and Washington DC.

King Kwame’s spokesman insisted that meals and drinks accounted for only 10% of the credit charges, or a mere $21,000 or so for various happy meals and bubbly drinks. A total of 78 charges were for meals. Most of the cash went for travel expenses - super duper first class, we assume.

Although Detroit is $230 million in the hole, King Kilpatrick insisted that travel to various other locations was necessary to attract business to the kingdom.

Former Mayor Dennis Archer said the city had no money for such nonsense as entertaining bigwigs. Archer said he paid for meals out of his own pocket or used campaign money.

King Kilpatrick, who’s the only city employee that rates a credit card, expects to lay off 754 city serf employees to meet the city’s cash shortfall. He also hopes to convince unions to take a 10 percent pay cut, as well as change health benefits. It’s not known if he’ll throw in a doggie bag.

Meanwhile, Kilpatrick is asking for recommendations on four star restaurants in LA, Paris and London.


30 posted on 08/14/2005 9:15:50 AM PDT by sergeantdave (Member of Arbor Day Foundation, travelling the country and destroying open space)
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To: freekitty
Jealous!
31 posted on 08/14/2005 9:21:54 AM PDT by Shawndell Green (Mecca delenda est!)
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To: sergeantdave
The King of Detroit, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, has run up $210,000 on the city’s credit card to feed, clothe and travel with his royal entourage.

When the city's pop falls to 300,000 & nobody gives a rat's tail how they vote or what they think, there is going to be a real serious opportunity to make a killing in real estate there.

32 posted on 08/14/2005 9:30:11 AM PDT by Tribune7
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To: Shawndell Green

Born and raised in Fort Worth. Does that say anything? Tee...Heee...


33 posted on 08/14/2005 12:57:30 PM PDT by freekitty
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To: Smartaleck
Can a career at Victoria Secret be far behind?

We're still in negotiations on that.

34 posted on 08/14/2005 1:07:28 PM PDT by humblegunner (If you're gonna die, die with your boots on.)
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To: Shawndell Green

Dallas - The City that can even when it wants to!


35 posted on 08/14/2005 4:53:30 PM PDT by Bommer
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To: Tribune7
When the city's pop falls to 300,000 & nobody gives a rat's tail how they vote or what they think, there is going to be a real serious opportunity to make a killing in real estate there.

Maybe in 50 years or so. Yes, the city is still declining but it has been stabilized. All the middle class has virtually left Detroit, leaving the underclass to live there.

36 posted on 08/15/2005 1:56:51 AM PDT by MinorityRepublican
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To: MinorityRepublican

I remember in the 80's when I was in the minority as a native Texan in Houston and it seemed as if everyone I met came from Michigan. Heck, my best friend is a transplant from Detroit!


37 posted on 08/15/2005 2:28:53 AM PDT by Sally'sConcerns
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To: Shawndell Green
This would explain all the BMW' filled with seashell garden gnomes patrolling Seawall Blvd in Galveston.
38 posted on 08/15/2005 2:52:51 AM PDT by BigCinBigD
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To: Bommer
Dallas - The City that can even when it wants to!

Dallas - the city whose NFL team lost to Houston's in the Texans' very first ever NFL game ever. ;-)

39 posted on 08/15/2005 3:00:47 AM PDT by Allegra (Escaped to the REAL WORLD for a Bit! YES! Sweet Freedom!)
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