+1. I'd say it's a number of complex factors... changing demographics (including emerging markets with little fashion historical memory, a lot of cash, and a desire for brand names), increased exposure and spending on huge boutiques and adverts, greater expansion/distribution of aftermarket and sales areas (which means they can mark things down multiple times without hurting their bottom line), increased influence of "private equity" firms or non-fashion related conglomerates owning the brands, etc. I'd say inflation has little or nothing to do with it; many of these items are nearly twice now what they were a few years ago (check out some of the watch threads in MC and how prices have gone up.) Likewise if you happen to find an LV, Chanel, or Hermes catalogue or pricelist from previous seasons. Overall, it's pretty fascinating and I wonder if any actual studies or investigations have been done into it, beyond just "OMG things are so expensive!"