Designer’s Paradigm Shift


A look at fashion week in New York, featuring the fall 2009 collections, gives us all hope for more reasonable priced clothing.  The event has just wrapped up with a lot less fanfare than in the past.   Fewer celebrities were sited, a number of designers scaled back on their shows and the clothes were generally more wearable.  No really big trends emerged as designers tried to show clothing that stores would order without fear of buyers rejecting the extreme and frivolous.

Vera Wang, originally known for her bridal gowns, has taken the message from buyers to heart.  She appeared on the scene nearly 20 years ago and has since expanded to include two other lines, Vera Wang Lavendar, which has been compared to big Italian names like Prada and Marni, and Simply Vera – Vera Wang clothing line sold at Kohl’s stores.  This season, however, Ms. Wang not only scaled back her New York show but also has a collection of clothing retailing for less than half of previous collections.  Her traditional palette of mostly black now includes colors with styles fitting closer to the body.     The goal:  to appeal to a wider range of buyers.

Another trend from the runways is metallic lame clothes that shimmer.  Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani are two designers who included shimmer in their collection.  We generally think of shiny dressing for evening but the trend is bridging into daytime with shimmery jackets and sequined cardigans.

Interestingly, shimmery clothing date back at least to the 17th century.  Having the metal fabric catch the sunlight or candlelight tends to lift the spirits.   These shiny fabrics were used extensively during the 1920s and 1930s when our country was in the great depression.  I’m sure the resurgence of this look is due to the present economic climate.  One boutique owner summed it up this way:  you can have shimmer and shine without appearing ostentatious by wearing lots of jewelry.

These trends will not be so evident in the spring collections because of the long lead-time required in the garment industry.  However, in the fall we will certainly be the winners when designers no longer have the luxury of presenting far-out clothing boasting incredibly high price tags.  Not only will the average customer have better odds of finding a great designer item that they can afford and wear but also this trend should trickle down to moderate priced clothing, which are the mainstay of most of our closets.   My only concern is that the quality of garments may suffer.   Manufacturers are sending their garments to countries with cheaper labor costs and will be using less expensive fabrics.  Before purchasing, be sure to check out the fabric content and look at the construction of each garment.

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