“Chin up” might seem like a fairly lame response to the deepening recession, but fashion insiders insist a little optimism is essential to offset the media’s round-the-clock coverage of the gloom-and-doom economy.
Perhaps building on the momentum of Barack Obama, whose presidency was sold on hope and the promise of change, fashion types are trying to execute their own administrative shake-ups. There is no denying the scale of this decidedly uphill battle. Deflation is a brewing threat, credit lines are being tightened, the 7.2 percent unemployment rate is the highest it’s been since 1993, energy prices are on the rise again, job security is as predictable as a lottery ticket – and that is just a sampling of the new realities with which consumers are grappling.
Sunless and severe as that might sound, a few intrepid designers and business owners are forging ahead with novel pitches and products. Their ideas range from the pragmatic, such as Freehands’ new iPhone-friendly gloves, to just plain fun. To fight the winter blues, the Mall of America is offering Minnesotans who spend $150 or more in its stores or restaurants two free passes to the mall’s indoor amusement park. The Irvine Co.’s Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Calif. has torn down a 30-year-old Macy’s store to make way for an 138,000-square-foot Nordstrom that will bow in spring 2010. Orlando Fashion Square, a 150-store shopping center, held a four-day inaugural sale that ended Jan. 19. Marketing director Dave Ackerman said, “It ties in with the optimism of the new administration coming in and hopefully a new day for the economy and the country.”
Many are taking stock of the lessons of recent months and even farther back. Emmanuelle Linard, a 20-year veteran with Li Edelkoort’s Trend Union forecasting service, said, “One thing we [have] learned is that while the world might not be any better, our perspective will have to shift from fear to joy. Trend Union believes in optimism as a necessary attitude for 2009,” she said.
After all, fashion has been through similar dark times. As Christian Dior’s president and chief executive officer Sidney Toledano recently noted, “Don’t forget that Mr. Dior and the New Look came after the war. It was an optimistic collection.”
There are those industry executives who contend a different viewpoint is what’s needed. Burt Tansky, chairman, president and ceo of Neiman Marcus Inc., voiced definite views about just how much misery loves company earlier this month at a forum hosted by Financo. Frustrated by the lack of spending by the rich, he lowered the boom on the media. “The media thrives on bad news. They started early in the year. It was negative and harmful,” he said, explaining that stories telling consumers where to get the best bargains didn’t help luxury spending.
And husbands aren’t helping the cause either. “Husbands used to say ‘Enough.’ Now they say, ‘Don’t even think about it.’” Tansky said.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over the top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty