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.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)