Monday, January 05, 2009

It's The Economy...

Things must actually be getting really bad economically. I just saw a news story about the January Couture shows that are coming up. Nieman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman are not attending, and Saks say they have not made up their mind yet. This really shocked me. As self-proclaimed fashion leaders in the retail world, it would seem that their attendance would be automatic. True, they're not going to actually sell these clothes, and I suppose they feel they can get just as much out of a trend report, but they rely on the public's perception of their unmatched fashion contacts and expertise. This may call that reputation into question.

Chanel laid off 200 workers very recently too, and in mid-December Bill Blass Couture laid off all 60 employees without warning (or severance) and is in bankruptcy. Granted, Blass has had no real leader since Bill Blass died, and that's likely the problem, but it's a sad ending for them.

I am hoping that couture in general does not get hit so hard by the global financial downturn that they'll have to curtail the collections. I've seen reports recently that households with a net worth over $30 million are planning to spend as much or more this year as last. Surely this is the only group that is wearing couture anyway, so maybe they'll do their civic duty and keep it up. I hope so anyway. It would be really sad to lose all that beauty and creativity, and almost impossible to start up the mechanics of creating it all again once it's been shut down.

Where am I getting all this news? I decided that for a little Christmas gift for me, I wanted a subscription to the online Womens Wear Daily, and I am loving it.

The fashion news is great, and I like their reviews very much. The business news is interesting as well.


Frida said...

Yeah, it would be sad if the current economy would make the couture industry suffer. Perhaps the reason is that the couture part is often not bringing in that much money and if the people that don't buy couture buys less of the other stuff, then the couture section will have to cut down.

Liana said...

Very true. They say the couture always loses money, but it sells the RTW and the licensed products. Retrenchment is everywhere now.

KellyT said...

Lately, I have been thinking about the couture, also. I have been struggling with the fashionableness of the collections. While I find them inspiring as art, I do not find them inspiring as fashion. Maybe the tide is catching up with the shows.

Mardel said...

From what I read the ultra-rich are not really all that badly affected by the economic downturn and they are the market that buys couture. I wonder if part of the trouble has been the turn couture has taken to emphasize marketing and at times almost outlandish fashion that draws attention to itself as opposed to exquisite workmanship which does not necessarily have to shout but is very difficult if not impossible to reproduce.

The change in how couture houses are run, and what they show has been deliberate but even if you are very very rich, you might not want to be seen as being as obviously indulgent in particularly hard times.

I would think there would always be a market for that old-fashioned term of "the best". But it seems like there has been too much emphasis on branding and showmanship, as if the good times would never end, and it would be a shame if that brought about a loss of skills and workmanship. I wonder how this will all work out.

I am not being very clear about what I am trying to say.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

I want to speak to the retail part of it...think about how much money airfare, a hotel stay, meals, taxis, etc. are to transport 2 or 3 executives to Europe for the shows - and they aren't flying coach or staying in the cheap rooms.

Then think about how poorly all of the retail stores are doing...

1 + 1 = 2

Seeing those shows are not going to add to their bottom lines and they don't make the majority of their money from the uber rich, they make it from middle and upper middle class America...and WE have stopped buying.

Retail stores are really caught between a rock and a hard place right now. Christmas sales SUCKED. Spring is not expected to do any better. How do you pre-order for this type of economic climate? And what happens if you under order and then the economy surges back and you have no stock on the shelves? People won't forget. It will lodge an idea of the company in their minds that will take years to reverse.

So cutting the unnecessary costs are wise and prudent right now because if someone can afford to buy couture, they can take their private jet to the shows and see it first hand. They don't need Neimans, Saks or Bergdorf's to tell them about it....and right now Middle America just doesn't care!

Mardel said...

I just wanted to say that I was thinking about what I wrote and didn't manage to say earlier, and which Carolyn put so much more eloquently than I. I think the decision of Neimans is prudent given recent sales declines and that no one knows what will happen next season or the season after. Couture doesn't really run their bottom line. Sales in the store do, and they have to cut extraneous expenses to help carry them through tough times.

As for the couture, there has been a big push, mostly a marketing push, to make them more about fantasy, image, and marketing than about clothes that even very wealthy women would wear. There were reasons for this and large amounts of money were made. Perhaps it is time for a change; perhaps this is just a hiccup.

RiAnge Creations. Ltd. said...

Just heard that Vera Wang and Betsy Johnson skipping fashion week.