From High Roller to Average Joe: Fashion Following the Recession

By Sara Shea

While the American economy falls deeper into recession, the fashion industry is struggling to survive. As a result, designers are playing it safe this spring.

According to an article in The New York Times, most spring lines are “turning toward a more realistic and lasting definitions of luxury.” Gone are the days of over the top glitz and glam and outrageously overpriced items that could not be worn by the average person.

Paul Helbers of Louis Vuitton said in a New York Times article “he was going for clothing that, though luxurious, could be worn every day without calling attention to itself.”

Louis Vuitton Summer 2009 Fashion Show

Fabrics such as gingham and cotton are taking over most designer’s spring collections. Easy to wear and care for, these simple fabrics are relatively inexpensive but are also fashion forward.

Michael Kors Spring 2009 Collection

Primary colors, black and white, and classic designs are a staple of most Spring 2009 lines. Kors' use of oversized dots and stripes offer a fun yet simple style.

“Most retailers are cutting jobs and streamlining inventories to remain financially able to cope with recession,” professor Radley Cramer, head of the Marist College Fashion Department, said.

“Designers are caught in ‘limbo’, torn between producing only goods that ‘play it safe’ and innovative designs that may be more likely to spark a consumer purchase,” Cramer continued.

The failing economy poses interesting challenges for big name designers as well as Marist design majors. “I’ve been looking forward to being in the Silver Needle [Fashion Show] for months,” sophomore model Katie Warren said. “However I definitely think the clothes are simpler this year, more solid colors and safe designs,” she added.

According to an article at CBS News.com, “New collections are emphasizing timelessness and versatility, eye-popping color, pretty prints and accessories like bags and chunky jewelry – pieces that can spice up existing wardrobes.”

Fashionology, Marist’s boutique, allows students on a budget to have the latest and greatest in spring accessories. Most everything in the Fashionology store is students designed and profits benefit the Marist Fashion Program.

With fall collections predicted to follow the same recession inspired trends, simple is now chic. The idea of wearable high fashion pieces is a trend that allows the average American to feel luxurious, even during hard times.

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