March 4, 2009

News flash: Luxury tightens its belt

Amid Karl Lagerfeld's let-them-eat-cake quotes, Donatella Versace's staunch refusal to dilute her brand by offering sales, and the opening of Giorgio Armani's lavish new Fifth Avenue flagship, the fact remains that the economy is affecting everyone's sales -- well, everyone except Uniqlo, whose same-store sales rose 4% in February. And so, even luxury labels are now starting to tighten their belts, both literally and metaphorically. WWD reports that belted coats are storming the runways for fall, while high-end Paris brands are cutting down on lighting budgets,  flowers, and even - gasp! - hand-lettered invitations for their runway shows. At the mass-market level, even beloved Project Runway host Tim Gunn fears for his job at Liz Claiborne -- understandably, since the company best known for its 1980s office clothes posted an $830 million loss last quarter.

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