Changing Trends: The Economy and Fashion

By: Lora Maghanoy, FW Editor
The fashion world is all about excess. It boasts
clothes, shoes and handbags at exorbitant prices and
there is always that certain someone who thrives on their
next big splurge.

But as Bob Dylan would say, “ the times, they are
a-changin’.”

It’s no secret that the economy’s sudden downturn
has significantly affected the spending habits of many
fashion-loving individuals. So, it’s no surprise that this
year’s fashion weeks in the bigger cities attracted a
weary crowd- all appreciative of the art of excess, but
understandably hesitant to shell out the money to buy it.
With runway rooms that are filled with retail buyers, it’s
hard to pinpoint what exactly they were looking for to
cater to their suddenly frugal consumers.

While there is no arguing
that the economic troubles we
are currently facing have no
doubt given birth to consumer
frugality, it has perhaps in
turn, provided a new dynamic
to the fashion industry as a
whole.

The industry is notorious
for praising the wellestablished
designers and
almost certainly investing in
pieces that they offer through their collections. But while
consumers’ grips on their money have begun to tighten,
so have their willingness to shell out funds for a piece
that they may or may not need. This opens the floor
for competitiveness between designers for you to pay
attention to them and in the end, spend your dough on
their creations.

Many new designers showed this year at fashion
week in New York, despite the dire situation with the
U.S. economy. To revel in Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler
and Vera Wang almost seemed insensitive, but to young
fledgling designers the economic low could result in a
high for their bustling businesses. While people may not
be ready to spend money on the bigger names, smaller
up-and-coming designers can effectively make the
impression they need to make their name as common as
Donna Karan’s.

Essentially, fashion week this season was a playing
field: which designer could attract buyers and consumers
to spend what few dollars they were willing to let go of.

But let’s be real. The economic crisis sucks too
– big time. Especially for Canadians. It’s opened our
eyes to the impact bigger corporations have and at
the moment any real glimmer of hope we had for our
talented crop of new designers is somewhat marred by
the recent news that one of our biggest designers to date,
Arthur Mendonça, is closing up shop. Mendonça is,
undoubtedly, one of Canada’s most successful fashion
designers, with a bevy of celeb fans and a show spot on
New York’s runway schedule. But once again, due to
the sudden turn in the economy, Mendonça is unable
to compete with the bigger companies that are not only
generating more buzz, but also are attracting buyers.

Bring the focus now to Canada. While Mendonça’s
success outside of Toronto is seemingly modest, what
does this sudden news mean for designers who have yet
to make the same impact and garner the same respect
that Mendonça has in as many years? Only time will tell,
I suppose. Well, maybe economic activity might be telling
as well.

So, while the fashion industry doesn’t seem to
be suffering too harsh of a blow, you can’t help but
recognize a changing trend when fashion magazines,
including Vogue, often considered the beacon of excess
for fashion lovers worldwide, begin to offer tips on how
to stop shopping and save your money.

Times are a-changin’, indeed

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