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How the Economic Downturn Will Affect Fashion Choices

Shout Out: Catwalk Queen Shows Us the Future

The ominous news on the economy front has given us a bout of the blues. While the downturn won't exactly mean breadline poverty for us all, it'll most certainly affect the choices of all but the upper strata.

Where will the fashion-starved turn once our everyday indulgences become unattainable luxuries? Many a fashion lover who feeds her habit with reckless abandon has had to face this reality, whether it's brought to our attention at the gas station, grocery store, or stock market. Practical considerations will almost certainly prompt a reevaluation of spending habits, with less disposable income allocated for the guilty pleasures and non-essentials. Save for the occasional treat, we'll either be shopping less, or shopping lower. If our favorite designer clothing becomes out of reach, less options may mean more time spent trawling the wares at Forever 21. Will the already ubiquitous diffusion lines and mass market retail become our daily bread?

Before you shudder and picture a Manhattan bursting at the sidewalks with a hideous amalgam of khaki and day-glo teen clones, consider the possibility that such a change might be an impetus for designers to get innovative in order to produce reasonably priced, fashion-forward designs. One would hope, but perhaps the more real possibility is that cutting corners in order to cut costs, so that we may continue to consume at a pace that our economy is clearly telling us is unsustainable, will result in a decline in the overall quality of the goods we consume. While you may love the feel of premium cashmere grazing your skin, you might have to get used to a scratchy substitute. When we relax standards out of what seems like necessity or a lack of options, our acceptance indicates to manufacturers that we'll settle for substandard, inferior products. If this becomes a trend, it could yield a worrisome outcome in which the consumer is left little choice but to purchase whatever the market offers.

Such a shift in consumer spending habits may just prove to be a boon for vertically integrated companies like Zara, which has proven its ability to continuously provide a steady stream of new styles to a fashion-conscious but budget-minded populace. It'll be interesting to see how much they stand to gain or lose as pursestrings are tightened. Without further ado, here's what you might be wearing come Fall/Winter 2008, brought to you by Catwalk Queen, who got a sneak peek at H&M's press preview over in London and shows us some of the trends the mass merchant will be shilling. Love it or hate it, it might just be one of your only options.

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