Mon, February 09, 2009
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Fashion's brave face

2009-02-09 03:22:22 GMT2009-02-09 11:22:22 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

Apparel industry unlikely to get much needed boost from upcoming NY Fashion Week and film "Confessions of a Shopholic" .

MOREINFO: Sales for the entire retail industry fell 1.6 percent last month compared to last January, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Manoush Zomorodi reports from New York.

SCRIPT:

A film about uncontrolled spending seems somewhat ill-timed, considering the state of the US economy. But the stars of "Confessions of a Shopaholic" gamely hit the red carpet in New York on Thursday.

Learning to live within your means is a particularly relevant theme says actor Isla Fisher.

(SOUNDBITE): ISLA FISHER, ACTOR (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"I think the lessons that Rebecca Bloomwood learns in the film are lessons that we're all learning during this economic period."

Much to the fashion industry's chagrin, shoppers seemed to have learned the lesson all too well.

Retailers are cutting profit forecasts, marketing budgets, and staff. Just this week, Liz Claiborne laid off 8 percent of its US workforce. Macy's, a top Liz Claiborne customer, said it's slashing about 7,000 jobs.

And stores aren't just cutting employees- they're cutting back on new inventory...especially bad news for any designer who isn't an established brand name, says Nicole Phelps, executive editor of Style.com:

SOUNDBITE: NICOLE PHELPS, STYLE.COM (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"It is a really challenging time for young designers who might be the first to get sort of chopped off the list at the department stores, sort of that last in, first out mentality when it come to chopping budgets."

New York Fashion Week, where top designers show off their latest, begins in just one week. Yes, the shows must go on but already some designers have opted to hold smaller presentations, away from the traditional- and expensive- white tents.

SOUNDBITE: NICOLE PHELPS, STYLE.COM (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"Everyone is paying attention to the bottom line a lot more than they have in the past. so certain designers have scaled back, meaning they've cut their invite lists in half. Marc Jacobs, who is famous is for his big, bold, crazy over the top show, slashed his invite list. Other designers are downscaling."

Style watchers are expecting some designers to embrace somber and dark designs.

But news from the world's two biggest luxury groups on Friday did add a bit of sparkle to all the gloom.

Sales for both Hermes and LVMH actually grew in the 4th quarter thanks in part to higher sales of those fancy handbags and shoes.

Manoush Zomorodi, Reuters, New York.

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