“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.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews