2001: A NEW ERA

Sept. 11, 2001.
When the history of the year, perhaps the decade and, quite possibly, the 21st century is written, that date will stand out as a turning point. The vast social, cultural, economic, political and business implications cannot begin to be measured, and the events of that day dwarfed everything else that happened this year.
The fashion industry, which was in the midst of its semiannual runway extravaganza when the attacks occurred, felt aftershocks in trade, sourcing — especially with cotton from Pakistan — shipping, and, of course, the plunge in already shaky consumer confidence.
The economy lagged pretty much the whole year until it finally fell off a cliff after 9/11. Luxury took a dive. Value, even if it was at better prices, became paramount, and retailers used the posttragedy environment as a reason to cancel or reduce orders, giving vendors new headaches on top of the ulcers that markdowns were already causing in a drooping retail climate.
But before war broke out in the Mideast, peace was declared on a number of fronts. The long, bitter battle between LVMH and PPR over Gucci was settled, as were the nasty lawsuits between Calvin Klein and Warnaco — moments before the trial was to begin. That truce, however, didn’t keep Warnaco from filing Chapter 11 and dismissing its chief executive officer, Linda Wachner.
Other bankruptcies, especially a rapid succession in the textile world that included giant Burlington Industries, added to the bad news. Dot-coms continued their slide, the media business took a big hit and Prada got into a cash crunch.
In what will undoubtedly mark a huge change for global trade, China was admitted to the World Trade Organization, paving the way to market access to 1.3 billion new consumers. The move, though, faced opposition from domestic textile and apparel houses and human rights organizations.
In some upbeat news, fashion got an injection of fun from pop stars, headlined by Jennifer Lopez, who launched the J.Lo label in a deal with Andy Hilfiger. Denim continues to be the one bright spot in mainstream apparel, and designers once considered fringe, like Viktor & Rolf and Nicolas Ghesquiere, have become the most influential on fashion’s Mount Olympus.
Here, WWD offers the top stories of 2001.

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