Friday Column | Credit Crunch Fashion


Givenchy A/W 2009, courtesy of Coutorture

PARIS, France — Sitting through the Paris collections, I was struck by how unappealing much of it seemed.

I find that the editors who attend shows season after season get caught up in analysing a brand in terms of its recent history. Has it moved on, they ask? Where is it going? The ultimate compliment they pay is: “I’d wear that.”

Now that I’m slightly removed from the day-to-day of it all, I tend to sit there and think the slightly more practical: Would I pay for that? And I have to say, much of it I wouldn’t.

I can appreciate the cut of a Rick Owens jacket, but do I have to have it? In these times above all? No. What appears on the runway is supposed to be an indicator of the times. But what I saw (and I didn’t see everything) made me think fashion is more cut off reality than one would expect.

What should credit crunch fashion be? All I know is what I want. I want a dress that says lighten up, because everything else seems too heavy.  I don’t want intellectual fashion. I have enough to think about as it is.
I don’t want hard fashion because life is tough enough.

I want a dress that feels like a whisper. That says forget about all the uncertainty in life, put me on and go out, have fun. And I’d be willing to pay a lot for that dress.

From what I hear, US retailers are equally confounded by what they see on the runways and in showrooms. Budgets have been slashed, and what’s left is being spent on the big designers who control their floor space, leaving little room for autonomy or creative buying decisions.

Is it any wonder these stores are performing so poorly?

Lauren Goldstein Crowe is co-author of a book on Jimmy Choo to be published by Bloomsbury later this year

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  1. I don’t need ricks leathers (they’re like a months rent!), however i do need his sneaker boots…(also a months rent!). But yea, i agree & disagree with this article…I don’t think the collections were at all unappealing in Paris, in fact there seemed to be a bit of a buzz around the place (especially the showrooms & added London spice). None of the designers held back or restricted their philosophy to tie in with ‘current financial dilemma’s’ (which has been sensationalized anyway) to correspond to a ‘fixated buyer perspective’ (whatever that is with such a multitude of stores represented). This is a typical editor talking absolute crap to sell a story to whoever wants to jump on her band-wagon…’i’d wear that’ is the ultimate compliment Lauren, it’s where buyers, buy & clientele spend. Of course, that wouldn’t make a very good story though…I agree because I also wouldn’t buy most of it & neither would the shoppers, which is why the buyers neglect most collections. In fact, the industry is so far saturated at present it’s a miracle how these designers continue each season. However, highlighting US retailers?????? who cares what they think? they make up a fraction of european sales seasons. Leave them to bask in everything that is mundane, being NYC.

    me from Dorchester, Dorset, United Kingdom
  2. i don’t agree about wanting a weightless whispering dress. that smacks of flimsy and superficial. “go out and have fun”? i think there is a bit of work that has to be done first. i think it’s premature to crave escapist fashion.
    i want clothing that i can live in, work in. i want clothing that supports my day while enchanting me at the same time, so that i can also dream.
    what i crave, what is worth my money, is authentic design, design with integrity, made of superb quality and with details, even tiny secret details, that will improve my day, my experience, just by knowing that they’re there.

  3. Yeah exactly, buyers are looking for flexible, multi-changeable clothing that can be appropriate for certain circumstances during the day (or for work) & then become an outfit suiting a different purpose for occasions in the evening. That’s the ultimate garment that people & buyers crave alike, that’s also eloquent yet durable. Then you look to more exotic fashions to finalise your budget & add some drama to your roster; such as some Pilotto print or some Braganza brash…i call it being ‘cookie’.

    me from Dorchester, Dorset, United Kingdom
  4. Wasn’t runaway always cut off from reality anyway? This is what I don’t particularly understand. I read an article in the WSJ that said that only 20-30% of what’s on the runway actually ends up on the retail floor, and that showroom collections are much more realistic than runway.

    So what exactly is the problem on the runway? Why are designers “scaling back” on the runway, when what’s really selling is the showroom?

    Nothing really changes backstage, or do they? If so, can someone enlighten me? I know we won’t be seeing Alexander McQueen’s ballooned silhouettes on the retail floor this fall but a more sensible (and wearable) collection. So, the problem isn’t really about designing wearable fashion (it’s always been wearable on the retail floor), it’s all financial. Since everyone’s on a smaller budget to spend, I think price and quality will take on a much more significant role for buyers and shoppers. If a buyer isn’t impressed with a runway show, designers certainly would start off at a disadvantage in trying to sell off their showroom collection afterwards. At least those are my impressions.