Alexander Wang must stand the test of his times! NY needs that. Image via alexanderwang.com
TI had an interesting conversation at dinner last night with a retailer who disclosed that the economic tough times were having a strange effect on her business. Not only is it a matter of people buying less, it seems when her customers made a buy they waited for the end-of-season sale AND then proceeded to walk past all those young designers to buy the most obvious brand names in sight. Balenciaga, Prada, Lanvin...all the obvious names in handbags, shoes (and sunglasses, see today's NY Times Style Section) were still moving. But as for the Proenza Schoulers, Phillip Lim 3.1's , Erin Fetherston's? Resistance . "Does that mean you're going to jettison all the kids," I asked. "They'll be the first to go," she nodded sadly. In fact her hiss to me was that a whole flock of the young and hyped would NOT be showing in September and even if they could scrape a collection together, we'd be more likely to see "intimate presentations" , instead of full-on fashion shows. That news was a bit saddening on two fronts, the first being New York City's continued lack of progress in forging a strong flank of young designers with an identity seductive to mass consumers. The second downer was seeing how programmed most consumers were in still insisting on buying the big-budget status labels. The perception is that after the big global convergence of luxury branding in the 90's it becomes more and more difficult for young designers to find the funding, factories, retail support and marketing muscle to burn their labels into the consumer's consciousness. I asked my fellow hisser to flash some light at the end of the dark tunnel she had just put me in. "The clothes have got to become more personal to stand out," she advised. "And the new designers are going to have to accept that sales are going to slow now . Use that time to really refine your clothes and build up your image. Because you're not going to be Valentino overnight!". Sobering words indeed. Which made me wake up this morning itching for something Alexander Wang.