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Fixing the Economy: The Creative Spark

WWD turned to fashion's creative side looking for out-of-the-box ideas on how to break the cycle of lingering economic woe.

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Special Issue
WWD Collections issue 11/14/2011

WWD Collections turned to fashion’s creative side looking for out-of-the-box ideas on how to break the cycle of lingering economic woe.

Karl Lagerfeld: I think they should make a tax so that when you earn a certain amount of money, you have to spend a certain amount on shopping. To buy whatever….And that way, we create tons of jobs. I think it’s a good idea. What I hate is people with a lot of money who don’t spend it. Money is there to be spent, because it creates jobs….Believe me, it’s not a bad idea. You buy whatever it is; food, furniture, design, clothes, cars…whatever creates jobs.

Donatella Versace: I believe that in tough times it is still important—more important than ever, actually—to look your best. It is a way of boosting your confidence and the confidence others have in you.

Alber Elbaz:
The job of a designer is to find solutions. It’s a research of solutions. There’s not enough brainstorming these days. We have to ask questions. You have to be more creative. It’s more difficult to cook with potatoes, eggs and cheese than with caviar. We have to think, we have to dream, we have to be alert—but we don’t have to panic.

You can talk to commercial people, but you don’t have to obey. What people are looking for is newness in fashion. It has to be good and it has to be new. The pieces that are actually flying from the stores, they’re not the cheapest, the commercial versions, but the special pieces.

Hussein Chalayan:
In a way, the crisis always comes from the Western world because we all live beyond our means, as in houses we can’t afford. And all those wars that have cost billions. Imagine if that money was funneled into building infrastructure? You could reconfigure Africa. A lot of young people don’t know the value of money. Maybe we need to be more independent from a young age.

We are generally a bit too materialistic. It’s the opposite of what a designer should tell you. Designers always try to sell more, but I think there’s something to be said for timelessness. The idea that we define our identity through what we own is an old-fashioned way of thinking.

Rolf Snoeren, who, with Viktor Horsting, designs the Viktor & Rolf collection:
A lot of it is that the media likes to sell bad news. To give confidence is something the media could do. There is a psychological element, because in the European situation, when you really look at the economic figures of certain countries, it’s not as bad as you might think. If everybody panics, there is panic.

Alexander Wang:
Designers should want to open up their eyes and ears, and absorb and learn things that—whether they’re interested in them or not—are very important to the business of fashion. Today, obviously, the industry has completely changed, and the fashion show, and creating the collection, is only the beginning, the first step. Even if a store completely falls in love with you and you’re the brand of the moment, one late shipment cancels that. The store drops the line. That’s an investment of an entire collection, and then you’re done, you’re wiped out.

Roland Mouret: Don’t forget that when you buy or sell something expensive, [there’s] a good chain underneath—that of people making a living and people who will carry on to have a trade and a craft, which has to be respected. By spending on expensive luxury goods, you’re supporting life for other people. Rich people should be respected for that, certainly.

Michael Kors:
Make clothes that make you look thinner, taller and younger. Steal away the plastic surgery money, because if you cut your clothes well, that’s what you’ll be able to do.

Lazaro Hernandez, Proenza Schouler:
Make stronger fashion at more affordable price points. If something speaks to me emotionally and I can afford it, I will buy it. It’s that disconnect—bringing  artistry and accessibility together.

Manolo Blahnik: Designers—do a good product that lasts, something solid, well-done and handmade if possible. Women—invest in good things. The days of cheap things and gimmicks are over. These are new times, different times. You need to buy something that lasts.

Haider Ackermann:
I don’t have anything else in mind than dreams…and dreams can be useful….Let’s glorify life and reality to search for beauty and to escape from poverty.
 
Wes Gordon:
Shopping is more than getting something fabulous. It’s a direct aid to hundreds of people within the industry in the process. I think it’s really important that shoppers are aware where their dollars go. Our pieces are made in New York, and that supports countless jobs in the garment industry.

Zac Posen:
More creativity, more innovation, more risk—beautiful, salable risk.

Jason Wu:
Buy more clothes, because fashion is a part of the economic chain. There is tremendous entrepreneurial talent in the U.S. and providing support for these small businesses would help create more jobs while changing the world economy.

Francisco Costa:
It’s time for risks. In 1929, Walter Chrysler built the Chrysler Building! These times should stimulate big thoughts and big ideas.

Roberto Cavalli:
The solution is to come up with new ideas, novelty concepts. Those who can spend continue to spend. If there is precious craftsmanship in a product, those customers won’t look at the price. If it’s special and unique, fashion is like an artwork, a painting—there to be collected.

Tommaso Aquilano:
[Our Italian identity] is our strength, and we strongly believe in it. Italians have a lot to teach and a lot still to give in the future. Every nation has its own story, its own culture, and I think that countries should find strength in their own culture to express their full potential. It would be great if within the framework of globalization, each country embraced this strategy of sharing their culture and strengthening it at the same time.

Markus Lupfer: Peace, Love and Sequins! It’s all about creating jobs. The government should introduce a quota where companies have to produce a certain percentage within their own country in order to create jobs, and in the meantime—sequins for everyone!

Paul Smith:
The short-term solution is very difficult, but the way I would approach it is in terms of growth and commerce, encouraging all aspects of design to invest more in new ideas—even the mundane products can be revitalized through design. Design has never been more important. Also, optimistic events such as the Olympics will hopefully be a positive highlight. Anything that encourages good causes, achievement and creativity should be promoted through all media, such as radio or TV.  Every news channel should include a segment about optimism.

Donna Karan:
Conscious consumerism.

Nicole Miller:
I think they should get rid of sales tax when selling your home if you are putting it directly into a new house. This would stimulate the housing market and help with overall economic growth. Also, stop giving people a free ride. We need to educate and teach people to work.

 

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