January 28, 2009

News flash: The low end trails, while couture flies high

Even with the slow economy, it was a bit of a shocker when the ultra-cheap chain Steve & Barry's announced its closing last November. For anyone who wondered how they could make money selling nearly everything for under $20, the answer turned out to be: they couldn't. Even with celebrity lines like the Starbury shoe and Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten, the numbers just didn't work. And now the latest: Target, the department store chain known for bringing high design to the masses, follows up the announcement of its upcoming Alexander McQueen collaboration with worse news, that it's eliminating 1500 jobs; and discounter Filene's Basement announced it will close 11 of its 36 stores.

Meanwhile, the couture shows continue to be as over-the-top as ever, and with reason: Dior's couture sales were up 35 percent in 2008, while Chanel's were up a trifling 20 percent, says the Wall Street Journal. Let them eat cake!

January 22, 2009

Jason Wu (New York)

If the world's hopes are now pinned on Barack Obama to save the United States, the ailing American fashion industry is looking to Michelle Obama as its own rescuer. First, there was the controversial red-and-black Narciso Rodriguez bondage dress she wore on election night. Then, the surprise choices of Isabel Toledo and Jason Wu looks for inauguration day, launching the highly-respected but little-known Toledo and the young, Taiwan-born upstart into the league of household names. But who is Jason Wu?

Oddly enough, the 26-year-old Parsons alum started out designing doll dresses as a teenager, then interned for Rodriguez before launching his own line for Fall 2006. Starting out with eveningwear for the uptown set, he's gradually branched out into pleated trousers, prim sweaters, and even satin shorts suitable for the workday, and garnered the Fashion Group International's Rising Star award on the way. 

January 7, 2009

News flash: 28 fewer designers at NY Fashion Week

Looks like the party might be over. Last September, 80 designers showed their collections at New York Fashion Week. But for the upcoming FW 09-10 shows, only 52 have signed up so far. Notably, while Betsey Johnson, Naeem Khan, Monique Lhuiller, Vera Wang, and Carmen Marc Valvo have already announced they won't show in the tents, Oscar de la Renta will be showing twice.    

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