The Usual Suspects


I’ve been following the online news of the embattled fashion/retail industry for a while now on WWD and the WSJ, and the bad economic news continue the whole time that I’m here.  Which makes it very difficult to shop in good conscience; hence, these pictures of window-shopping in Prague.   I sniff my way to the most expensive shopping area of the city,

and it’s quiet here just like at the boutiques back home.  All the usual suspects are around…Dior, Vuitton, Prada, Hermes…but not a single swishing of shopping bags can be heard for blocks.


The global belt-tightening is hitting all industries, but when it comes to fashion it feels a little personal to me.  As fashion houses shutter–even the most venerable ones are not  immune–I shudder to think about my shrinking playground. Where will I find my sweet escape if haute couture becomes extinct, fashion magazines suffer even worse cases of anorexia (have you seen how thin even the fashion issues have become lately?), and designers can’t sustain their imagination when investors disappear?  There’s already a shift in how fashion is delivered/presented (less show, more tell), so who knows when that catwalk will become entirely obsolete?


It’s definitely a sign of the times when Target advertises in W magazine. I still remember when, many years ago in an advertising study group, we were asked to select out of a group of elite advertisers which would best fit within W‘s overall image as an avantgarde, artistic fashion magazine.  La Mer, yes.  L’Oreal, not so much.  I suppose now that the fashionista readers have morphed into recessionistas, the often elitist world of fashion will learn to adapt to a new way of finding its own relevance.  The chase for cash tends to tear down the ivory tower anyway.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for leveling the playing field.  And I’m a happy consumer when I can find Thakoon guest designing at Target.  Can’t beat pairing my $20 pair of Exhiliration skinny jeans (full price no less!) from there with my Prada jacket either. 


But in my heart of hearts, in my weakest moments of giving into my girly girl calling, I truly hope the decadent fashion world survives long enough so that when we buyers come off the sidelines, the playing fields will still be open.  Retweaked and retooled, of course, but hopefully just as irreverent as before.   When the time is right, I will still crave the tulle, chiffon, organza, feathers and all the irrelevant, impractical, unnecessary bits that make being a girl worth all the hassles. 

There will be no bailout when fashion companies go under.  The lucky ones get saved by white knights only to be reinvented to court the public.  Consumers have never had it so good in terms of access and sales, but for the dwindling spare change….and therein lies the saddest irony of all. Fashion has never been so near, and yet so far.

But I’m optimistic. In time, we’ll walk past the windows,


only to turn around and go through the front door.


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