Silver linings in the recession cloud
The news has not been so great lately for the fashion industry, from layoffs (Saks cut 1,000 jobs today [subscription required]), to bankruptcies (Searle, among many other stores), to a thinner Fashion Week calendar (only 52 designers are confirmed for the tents in February, compared to more than 80 back in September). And then, of course, there was this article in today's Times Style section, about how the French are beside themselves with worry about the death of luxury. Never one to be at a loss for words, Karl Lagerfeld presents the following bon mots:

“This whole crisis is like a big spring housecleaning — both moral and physical,” Karl Lagerfeld, the designer for Chanel, said in an interview. “There is no creative evolution if you don’t have dramatic moments like this. Bling is over. Red carpety covered with rhinestones is out. I call it ‘the new modesty.’ ”

Of course, he's quick to point out that Chanel is doing just fine, thank you, in spite of the fact that they laid off 200 employees last month.

So, before I get too depressed, I will point out two relevant, well, points. The first is that these dire economic conditions are going to force retailers to lower their prices. This is not so good for the stores and designers, obviously, but the age of $2,000 handbags is coming to an end, and I don't know about you, but I'm pretty happy about that. The second is that while there will always be a "recession-proof" customer who can afford luxury prices, those of us who qualify as "aspirational" are also being taken care of. Case in point: Rock & Republic is launching a mini-line of "recession special" jeans (two styles for women, two for men), which will retail for $128-$138. True, those aren't Levi's prices, but considering that most R&R jeans retail between $200 and $350, that seems like a pretty good deal to me.

But what really makes me excited is that, as I reported back in August, current fashionista darling Alexander Wang is launching a lower-priced line of knit pieces, called T by Alexander Wang, and, according to The Cut, it hits stores in two weeks. Dresses are $85, tees and tanks are $74-$78, and you can find it at Barneys, Kirna Zabete, and Saks, where you can preorder it (which is what I'll be doing as soon as I finish writing this post, I kid you not). Preview the collection at Alexander Wang's website, where you can see the lovely Karlie Kloss modeling it (does she not make this look like the best gray T-shirt ever or what?). Yes, $74 for a tank top is not, at first glance, the best deal in the world. But Wang's clothes are cut well and he seems to have this intrinsic knowledge of exactly what cool girls want to wear--in this case, beautifully draped jersey pieces that have a broken-in (but not broken-down) look. I, for one, plan on making them a central part of my spring/summer wardrobe.

1 comment

Anonymous said...

I (insert sarcasm here) love Karl's closing statement.

And for Mr. Lagerfeld, cutting back his own spending at Chanel is not part of his “new modesty” strategy. He said he is not being forced by the private company’s owners to bend or adapt because of financial constraints. “We have no budget, we do what we want and throwing money out the window brings money back in through the front door,” he said. “The bottom line is that I don’t deal with the bottom line. The luxury in my life is I never have to think about it.”