Recession on the Runway

If you think the country’s current economic status is affecting only the working class, well… here is yet another reason you’re wrong.

A staple in the New York fashion scene since 1943, February’s New York fashion kicked off last week with a bang. However, some very obvious differences in tradition prove that a chic black belt has tightened a bit for designers too.

Some sources estimate it can cost up to $750,000 to produce a fashion show. Those figures may seem a bit outrageous to some, but after considering factory and production costs, models, makeup artists, hair stylists, assistants & employees, dj’s, press, advertising, travel, booking a $100,000 venue, plus a load of other hidden costs, its just a normal price tag for a designer. Most companies or designers don’t even think twice about the expense, and just factor it into the season’s costs.

Designer Betsey Johnson, in her recent perfume campaign

Designer Betsey Johnson, in her recent perfume campaign

But considering current times, it’s no surprise that a few iconic designers, such as Betsey Johnson and Vera Wang, were nowhere to be seen on the catwalk this season. The designers chose not to show on the runway this year, due directly to the economic crisis.

Betsey Johnson says Bye-Bye to Bryant Park

Betsey Johnson says Bye-Bye to Bryant Park

With reports that sales in the U.S. high-end fashion segment were down 27.6% this past year, (according to a MasterCard recent report) some designers have chosen to showcase their collections in different and unconventional ways. Mannequin presentations, jointly hosted fashion shows, web based displays, and personal showings, have become more economical alternatives to upscale runway shows.

Wedding dress designer, Vera Wang

Wedding dress designer, Vera Wang

Despite hard times, there has been a great presence of designers, both well known and up-and-coming, at NY Fashion Week this season. Familiar labels such as March Jacobs, Max Azria, and Cynthia Rowley produced wonderful shows, though slashed guest lists and smaller scale productions seemed to be the norm. William Rast, more familiarly known as Justin Timberlake’s clothing line, was among one of the newer faces that filled in spots on the runway.

Hobo-chic? Marc by Marc Jacobs on the runway at NY Fashion Week 2009

Hobo-chic? Marc by Marc Jacobs on the runway at NY Fashion Week 2009

William Rast, JT's clothing line, at NY Fashion week 2009

William Rast, JT's clothing line, at NY Fashion week 2009

So are runway shows to be transformed from seasonal traditions to an optional luxury, or even events of the past? I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to see what follows this unexpected turn of events New York Fashion Week showed us.

As you can imagine, this news doesn’t bode well for small clothing companies, indie designers, and start-up lines like my own. We can only hope that with a new President in office, some optimism, and a turn in the economy will help things pick back up for all of us.

Until then… welcome back, cardigan sweater.

xoxo SBK

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~ by stuffbykate on February 18, 2009.

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