Even with the higher prices expected for fall, some U.S. buyers contended that, if the fashion is right, a slight increase in price won’t impact shoppers.

“We have seen some increases, but everyone is working together to try to keep the costs in line as much as possible,” Robert Burke, senior vice president of the fashion office at Bergdorf Goodman, said.

“There is no secret the dollar is not working for us when it comes to imports, but I don’t think that will be the defining factor. I feel the defining factor will be good, solid designs.”

Julie Gilhart, vice president and fashion director at Barneys New York, said she won’t hold back if the merchandise is right. “You have to look at individual pieces. It’s not about spending less, but spending more where it’s good, but you have to be careful in your buying,” she said.

Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction for Bloomingdale’s, said, “Rising prices are always a concern, but if it’s great fashion, our customers will still buy it if it’s 10 or 15 percent more.” 

The euro’s strength versus the dollar is impacting Scoop, though co-owner Stefani Greenfield said she tries to have at least a fifth of its fashions come from international designers. 

“You buy a little bit less of certain things [given the exchange rate],” said Greenfield. “We work within a plan, but you show us great clothes and we’ll always have open-to-buy.”

Regardless of the euro, the store has to retain its fashion quotient so its with-it customers don’t see themselves coming and going, she said.

“This is the moment to definitely sharpen your pencil when you find great things, but definitely look for value,” Greenfield said. “Now we are really looking at every single item and making sure it has enough value to buy it in euros. The question really is: Does it have the perceived value? Is it worth it?”

And the ultimate silver lining to the weaker dollar is that the streets of New York are packed with European shoppers eager to snap up fashion items and other products that are significantly cheaper than at home. As Andrew Jennings, president and vice chairman of Saks Fifth Avenue, said, “We’re grateful to the British people for getting on planes and visiting the store, so in that way, we’re benefiting from the currency exchange. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”

This story first appeared in the February 24, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.