Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Scoop issue 11/24/2008

Don’t look now, but hearth and home and DIY are in. For now.

This story first appeared in the November 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Who hasn’t, in the last few months, wished they had a crystal ball right out of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings or, heck, even The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz? Plunging economies, diminishing 401(k)s, falling house prices, the interminable presidential campaign and failing banks have naturally left everyone wondering, “What can possibly happen next?”

Well, we don’t know. But in an effort to get some guidance, WWDScoop polled futurists, consultants, fashion executives and other “experts” on what the turmoil might mean for all of us in the year ahead and beyond. How it might change the way we shop, eat, dress, travel or just plain think. And, while the people we spoke with don’t have a crystal ball, either, they came up with a few answers. Not quite the wisdom of Kermit the Frog, but, then, they didn’t pull any strings.

Today’s mantra should be reset, according to New York–based creative consultant Jeffrey Miller. “Like you do with a computer. This is not a moment to invoke fear or doubt, but to reset priorities.”

John Kenneth Galbraith’s 1955 book, The Great Crash: 1929, is currently a hot seller—and almost impossible to come by—while Karl Marx’s Das Kapital is the new bedside reading in Britain.

“There’s this sense of a clock ticking, of finding the time to do what we’ve always wanted, something that’s an alternative to the reckless shopping and jetting to Barcelona for a crazy weekend,” says Miller.

“We are turning inwards, toward the house, home entertaining and hobbies,” says Ilaria Alber- Glanstaetten, chief executive of Provenance, the London-based luxury goods arm of ad agency M&C Saatchi. Sales of sewing machines and patterns are on the rise and women are increasingly rooting through their closets, asking dressmakers to help them refit old designer outfits.

And even iconic French designer Agnès Troublé of agnès b. couldn’t be more pleased. “I hope that people will make their own fashion with clothing that reflects their personalities, instead of mindlessly following loud styles that invariably end up in the back of the closet,” she says.

In California, fitness fanatics are favoring their own four walls over the gym. “People are moving more toward being at home,” says Kathy Kaehler, fitness expert and author of Fit and Sexy for Life, citing the growing popularity of programs such as Wii Fit. “My celebrity clients are not wanting to put in time at the new, big gyms. It is more about ‘What can I do with what I have?’”

Staying at home means less shopping. “I haven’t shopped much this fall, and there is a sense of relief,” says Rena Kirdar Sindi, a London-based socialite, former party planner and author of Be My Guest: Theme Party Savoir-Faire. “I think a lot of people are questioning their insane spending—and sobering up.”

Looking ahead, Sindi says, “Now, it’s about buying one nice jacket, not 10 Dolce dresses. And I think people are going to start prioritizing between, say, buying the amazing wine or having the great holiday.”

As they prioritize, they’ll look closer at the quality and origins of what they are buying. “It’s not going to be about ‘Look at my “It” bag,’ but rather ‘Look at this piece of jewelry I bought in Peru,” says Joe Staton, planning director for The Future Foundation, the trend-forecasting consultancy.

The money- and celebrity-fueled art market will also undergo a radical correction—just look at the dud sales recently at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York. “Art has a higher power than something like a stock,” says Sarah Cohen, director of Mint Art and Mint Lifestyle, a Beverly Hills– based concierge, art and real estate resource. “What we need are fewer galleries, fewer fairs, fewer speculators and ultimately the motto that aesthetics come first and value second.”

Kenny Schachter, a gallerist and art dealer who works between New York and London, would agree. “Until now, people were buying art like they bought the National Enquirer at the supermarket checkout. When you went to an art fair, you had to make a move quickly—before your rivals beat you to it. Time was money.”

Crystal ball gazers aren’t exactly renowned for their accuracy. Once the dust settles on all this upheaval, things very well may go back to just the way they were before. “If I have learned one thing—after the 1997 Asian crisis, 9/11 and SARS—it is that people don’t change,” says Domenico De Sole, chairman of Tom Ford International and former president and chief executive officer of Gucci Group. “They go back to their old ways. No one knows how long this crisis will last, and it will definitely have a temporary impact, but we will return to the boom times, to spending on fashion and luxury. Human beings have a tendency to forget.”

NEXT: “Less Luxury” >>


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