Luxury Baby Strollers: The New Mom 'Status Symbol'?

PHOTO: Bugaboo America President Kari Boiler says her business took off after she got the luxury stroller brand featured on an episode of "Sex and the City."
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One of the hottest, highly-engineered, performance "vehicles" on the market boasts power steering and adjustable seating, all for the price of over $1,600.

Did we mention that it's a stroller?

It's the Bugaboo Donkey, and it's not alone. There's a whole luxury line of baby strollers: Uppababy's VISTA costs $679.99, Kid Kustoms' Roddler, made to look like a classic 1950s car, which costs $4,500.

That's right, four-digit price tags for a baby buggy. In this down economy, why are parents are shelling out top dollar for a stroller?

But the Bugaboo Donkey is not just any stroller. In the high-end world of Gucci and Manolo Blahniks, Bugaboo could be the Prada of the pavement. In fact, the stroller first hit fashionistas' radar on an episode of "Sex and the City," when the character Miranda Hobbes, played by Cynthia Nixon, was having a baby.

Bugaboo America President Kari Boiler was working out of her garage when she made a call to the "SATC" props department.

"When we just sent them the images, they were like, 'we need five here on Monday,' and I think that call was on Friday," Boiler said.

Once that episode aired, Boiler said she had a waiting list of people clamoring for the stroller, and nothing makes people want a product more than telling them they can't have it. Boiler, a marketing maven, created an advertising blitz with each new model.

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So what makes the Bugaboo different from other strollers? Boiler explained, it comes down to the type of rubber they use.

"We just buy each individual component of that wheel is assembled," she said.

But new moms aren't the only ones driving up Bugaboo sales. Daddy gear-heads are attracted to the "high performance," gadget-esqe pitch.

"When we first launched the Bugaboo, we had more dads call us than moms at the time," Boiler said.

Hollywood A-listers fed the Bugaboo craze, as paparazzi snapped Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Jennifer Garner, even Hugh Jackman on family outings with the stroller.

New celebrity mom Rachel Zoe sported a Bugaboo from the exclusive Missoni collection.

All that celebrity heat has helped sky-rocket sales and anointed Bugaboos as the "status symbol" for the baby set. But Bugaboo's luxury engineering drives some mommy bloggers crazy, who believe babies don't notice the difference between a $200 stroller and a $1,600 one.

"Did you just get $25 million dollars for a film? Congratulations if you did, but you don't necessarily have to keep up with celebrities," said Beth Feldman, president of RoleMommy.com. "I can certainly say from experience, my own children have never said to me, 'mom, I remember back in those days when you used to stroll me around the neighborhood.'"

With $1,600, new parents could buy roughly 4,000 diapers, a year's worth of baby formula or around 16 car seats.

But before you smirk too much at the price, it turns out it just might be a savvy investment. Luxury strollers hold their resale value.

Unfortunately, the hype over the Bugaboo and others has made them popular targets for theft. So much so, that "Buggyguards" were invented to lock them up. A Buggyguard is a combination lock-type device with a cable option that allows users to secure bags to strollers, lock the wheels or lock the stroller to another stationary object, such as a bike rack.

The Bugaboo's price tag makes sense to owners, such as Allyson Hentel and her friends, who are enrolled in a "stroller-cise" class in New York City, where a trainer incorporates baby and stroller into the exercise routine.

"I think people are impressed by it," Hentel said. "Because I think the mom is happy and the baby is happy."

"I do think it is a luxury item though, it is a luxury stroller," said Lauren Kennedy. "I think it is for people who money is less of an issue and they are looking for something with style because it is sort of a statement piece."

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