For many, the collapse of Lehman Brothers a year ago sounded a gong for more discretionary spending that has yet to stop tolling.
Gallup reported there have been some positive signs in recent months, but comparisons to last September indicate the U.S. has a long way to go to return to the pre-crisis economic climate, never mind healthier financial times. And designers and other members of the fashion crowd apparently fit right in with the new thriftier mood, both personally and professionally, judging from a random sampling of showgoers and designers in recent days.
But while caution is the prevailing mood by far among the country’s more directional shoppers, a few designers consider spending to be even more of a necessity in these uneven financial times. “I believe in order for the economy to recover, we all have to spend,” said Juicy co-founder Gela Nash-Taylor. “I am doing my bit as best I can and so is Pam [Skaist-Levy], In fact, she might be doing a little better.”
“Obsessed” with shoes, she said she recently bought some “amazing” Brian Atwood boots and a Stephen Jones hat with a Union Jack design.
Overall, though, fashion insiders said they are more inclined to do without for now rather than spend wildly. Whether shopping for their children’s back-to-school clothes in outlet stores, taking ill-fitting shoes to be softened up or digging out old favorites from seasons past, attendees at the New York shows last week said they are learningto work around the recession.
Even with a new album, “In Love & War,” due out in November, two-time Grammy winner Amerie is not splurging. “I am not really spending in general. I am only buying things that I absolutely love and will have for a long time,” she said. “Right now is the time to buy classics.”
She said her last great purchases were a leather jacket her sister helped find online and a pair of Gucci shoes. But she has no qualms about dipping into her closet to break out old favorites, like the black leather Roberto Cavalli thigh-high boots she wore to the recent Nicole Miller show. “I was thinking, ‘I needed a pair for fall’ and then I remembered, ‘Oh, I already have some,’” she said, tracing the boot’s patterned design. “They look like they could be Stella McCartney from last season.”
Prabal Gurung, who once again arranged to have his friends donate the space he used to show his collection, said, “I am very frugal when it comes to spending money. I am lucky because I work out of my home and I show the collection at a friend’s place. I am careful about buying fabrics,” he said.
As for his own indulgences, Gurung said he mixes thing up, pointing to his ensemble of an American Apparel T-shirt, well-worn Cloak jeans and Martin Margiela shoes as an example of how he typically shops for himself. “I will spend just on key pieces,” he said.
At the Fashion Institute of Technology Couture Council luncheon earlier this month, Isabel Toledo said she has always lived by measured steps, so this fall is no different. “I have always been careful and resourceful. That’s the way Ruben and I are. You spend a dollar — you make two dollars,” she said.
The designer, whose inauguration ensemble for Michelle Obama is on view at FIT, will be strengthening her Beltway ties this fall. She will stage a fashion show at the Swiss Embassy Nov. 4, and the following day will make an appearance at Nordstrom’s Tysons Corner store and have a public discussion at the Textiles Museum with The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan.
Another luncheon guest, Julie Gilhart, Barneys New York’s fashion director, said she is giving more thought to every purchase she makes. “If I were to add it up, I don’t know that I am spending any less. I’m just not spending as quickly,” she said.
Charlotte Moss said she too is being more careful in that she is more “reserved and selective about everything from top to bottom,” including clothes, her flower budget and other things she hadn’t really thought about before. But “I am still keeping a very positive face and I am optimistic,” she stressed.
Aside from being more philanthropic, Arnold Scaasi, who has donated his archives to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, said his personal investments remain unchanged. “I still have three houses — in the Hamptons, Beekman Place and Palm Beach — and I plan to keep them. All my London-made suits still fit me very well. I’m hoping not to change. Why do I have to change?” Scaasi asked, noting his company will mark its 55th anniversary next year.
Before Ralph Rucci’s show, Rachel Roy said she bought her nine-year-old daughter the same amount of back-to-school clothes as last fall — although she opted to shop at a Gap outlet store instead of a full-priced one.
Roy said she reined in her spending in summer 2008. “I’m conscientious about what bills need to be paid and that affects the fabrics I choose and how many colors I use,” the designer said. As much as she enjoys traveling and finds it helpful to her creativity, there has been little time lately for such pursuits. As a New Yorker, she still eats out practically every day. But recently she passed up a Givenchy bag that she loved. “I really loved it. It cost thousands and I’m sure it was worth every dollar.”
Never one to be careless about his spending habits, Carlos Campos said he makes every piece of clothing he wears and has always ridden his bike around the city instead of taking cabs. “The one thing I can say is I’m enjoying more home-cooked meals with my friends,” he said.
From a professional standpoint, Campos said his company has become more organized to focus on effective time-action planning. “We are being more directional in terms of design samples. We’ve saved enormously by properly merchandising the designs before sampling,” he said. “In terms of marketing, we’ve been resourceful in finding innovative ways to save. Last season we printed our campaign look book on newspaper and it looked great.”
Before his video presentation for spring, Carmen Marc Valvo said he isn’t buying as many presents for his nieces and nephews as he usually does. He still does indulge in gardening and a good bottle of wine from time to time though, and while he hasn’t updated his cashmere collection with a new sweater, a fall ritual, he did recently buy seven pairs of shoes. “I guess it really depends on what you really need and what you feel you can’t live without,” he said.
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews