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Fashion Designers and Retailers Are Optimistic in Hard Economic Times

Good News Bears

Finally, some good news. If you have a subscription to WWD, you probably wake up every day to another company reporting negative profits. After months and months, it's quite the downer. True, rock-hard luxury companies like Louis Vuitton are keeping afloat, but how is everyone else doing? WWD surveyed top designers and retail executives, and the outlook was overly optimistic. If you need a pick-me-up or just want to be enlightened, check out my favorite quotes from the article.


Michael Kors: “The good news is in this crazy, terrible economy, I think people’s taste is getting better. They have to think about what they buy and they’re getting a more discerning eye because of it. There are no more shoes you can’t walk in, bags you can’t carry, dresses you can’t sit in. All of that’s finished. It’s like the beginning of Gone With the Wind, ‘This is about a time long, long ago.’ The handbag that’s so heavy I can’t lift it, the shoe I can’t get out of a car in, the dress I have to lean in — those are memories from a time that’s gone with the wind."

Karl Lagerfeld: "You have to have something very quality and fashion at the same time, and the names are the guarantee of all that. That’s why big names are important. That’s why it might be more difficult for smaller companies. Also, Chanel is beautifully run as a company. There are no debts. There’s no healthier business than Chanel."

To read what Marc Jacobs, Rachel Roy, Givenchy's CEO, and more are happy about, read more

Marc Jacobs: “The weather is beautiful. I’m in love. I’m engaged to be married. I’m working on building a new home, and working in the studio with Steven Meisel and Madonna on the next [Louis Vuitton] campaign. Then, I have two days of shooting with Juergen [Teller]. The Met is [tonight], which I’m excited about. I’m receiving a FiFi Award. Then, we receive the International CFDA award for Louis Vuitton. So, I kind of have really great stuff on a daily basis. I can’t find anything to be unhappy about at the moment."


Fabrizio Malverdi, CEO, Givenchy: “I’m just back from the Middle East. I went to Kuwait, Bahrain, and Dubai, and it’s good to see that the atmosphere is not as depressing as in other countries. The energy is really positive. For Givenchy, we are opening new stores with the new concept we introduced a year ago [in Paris on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré]. The reaction to this new concept is really good, and we have an existing partner that wants to open stores based on it. Europe and Russia are suffering a lot, but in general, Givenchy’s women’s prêt-à-porter is going well. The sell-throughs are good. And if the customer has fun buying it, that’s the real success. We have to inject a bit of life, a bit of fun, and a bit of coolness in the market. That’s the reason why people are still buying.”

Stefano Gabbana: “First of all, we feel hypercreative, reactive, excited, and stimulated. Strangely enough, given the times, we feel good and feel the urge to experiment. I think this crisis has bought back many core values, and fashion has achieved a more human and traditional aspect, which we appreciate. Many superfluous elements have been wiped away and it’s OK if people buy less because they have too much of everything. It’s useless to have too much of everything. It’s like sitting down to a five-course meal when a plate of pasta will do just fine. This reevaluation to me is good news.”

Dries van Noten: “We just won the Fashion Institute of Technology’s 2009 Couture Council Award For Artistry of Fashion. I’m very proud of that. We opened the store in Tokyo at the end of March. It was a decision that was made at the end of October, so it’s not something most people think, ‘Oh, it was made before the crisis started.’ It’s still totally the right moment to do something like that, because it’s unexpected. Why not at this moment? It’s difficult maybe for a lot of people, but still, life continues. Shopping and buying fashion and fashion itself, are just parts of life."


Phillip Lim: “Good news — my plants in my garden are happy and about to bloom. My dog Oliver has recently learned to lay down — on command. I am more inspired, and my focus is clearer then ever! Life is good, as it’s really the simple things that I have come back to. It’s been a reawakening."

Karen Katz, president and chief executive officer, Neiman Marcus Stores: “The customer is still engaged. When we present her with the right trends, she is responding. For our storewide focus on a color, we settled on the color pink. Our customers are feminine. Pink has been perfect for her; she has definitely embraced pink. She’s also been buying anything with a feminine detail.


Diane von Furstenberg: “I think there was too much of everything, and I feel like the whole industry had to take a laxative. We just had too much s—t, and therefore there’s a cleansing thing that happens. All of a sudden it’s not so much about marketing as it is about product. We kept on saying, ‘Oh, it will sell, you know, it doesn’t matter,’ and now we’re not like that anymore. Now we’re just being much more careful."

Simon Doonan, creative director, Barneys New York: “Having been through a number of depressed periods, most notably the '70s, I find a lot of explosive creativity comes out of these periods. The punk movement in England came out of the terrible, terrible economic depression that hit England in the early '70s. A creative rage can come out of [hard times], which is an immensely productive thing and has a huge impact on fashion design and marketing.

Rachel Roy: “The good news is having the opportunity to create the secondary line [Rachel Rachel Roy] for this younger customer. It gets my mind off of designer woes and all the hardships of getting your designer clothes into specialty stores and department stores right now. It’s a fun project — it’s younger, it’s fun, it’s a bit edgy, and certain things could be a bit naughty that I can’t do in designer."

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