Fashion folks are typically anxious before the major fashion week agenda, a hectic, month-long global extravaganza that takes them to New York, London, Milan and Paris. But this season, the edgy feeling has less to do with the packed schedule and more to do with the pressure amid the worst economy of our generation. The effects on the fashion industry as a whole have been tremendous thus far, with no signs of leveling off in the near future, and fashion’s main players are feeling the growing heat.
Magazines and newspapers have cut back staff. Even respected and seasoned journalists aren’t safe, as with Teri Agins of The Wall Street Journal, who was has recently been laid off. Retailers such as Macy’s and Bergdorf Goodman have also let go of many employees, but continue to be nervous about the slow pace at which merchandise is moving. And for some designers and brands, such as Bill Blass and Obedient & Sons, the conditions were so dire that the only option was to simply close up shop.
But, if you’re a designer or a brand, what do you make of these dire economic conditions? Some have protected their bottom lines by not staging runway shows, as in the case of Temperley, Vera Wang, Betsey Johnson and Carmen Marc Valvo, or, like a true brazen New Yorker with chutzpah, they can stare these dangers in the face, and find creative ways to weather the unprecedented storm.
Following Viktor & Rolf and Marc Bouwers’ online showings of their collections last season, Halston will forego the runway in favor of a music inspired video to be distributed via the internet. Some are taking a collaborative approach such as Nicholas K, Mara Hoffman and Sergio Davila, who will combine three shows into one. Meanwhile, Camilla Staerk’s too-cool-for-school garbs will share the stage with the colorful menswear of Victor Glemaud. It’s not just designers who are finding creative ways to weather the storm, Vman and Ford models, for instance, will hold an ice skating party to celebrate its most recent issue launch. If not exactly for their bottom line, at least the activity will make people forget their financial woes temporarily.
There is something about New York that inspires people to face these challenges with unwavering aplomb, adding even more colorful to the already bubbling scene. Gerlan Marcel, the former print designer for Jeremy Scott, will show her chromatic and enticing sportswear collection at Patricia Field’s home, and art star Terence Koh will host Teddy Willoughby’s conceptual wares at Asia Song Society for the Bland show. Bodkin, is giving eco wear a chic boost, while Prabal Gurung, of Bill Blass fame, will embark under his own accord to create easy, luxurious clothes for the wealthy Park Avenue set. Nice Collective rock ‘n roll aesthetic will come alive at the Angel Orensanz theater, and last season’s darling rookie, Joseph Altuzarra, will present his sophomore effort to prove if his wondrously constructed and feminine pieces can help him expand his young, fashion forward fans such as Victoria Traina and Julia Restoin Roitfeld.
Despite a few runway shows missing this season, we’re feeling that this week will be business as usual. For Bryant Park, this is a particularly bittersweet moment as the shows will move to Lincoln Center starting 2010, but for the whole industry, this season’s impact will be a groundbreaking one that could change the whole fashion scenery.