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Monday, October 12, 2009
Looking at the bright side of the recession
From the closure of Christian Lacroix haute couture to Emanuel Ungaro's catastrophic attempt to boost publicity and wider market share by hiring Lindsay Lohan as the fashion house's artistic adviser, it's obvious that that some members of the fashion world is either in coma or struggling with one last breath amid the stormy sea of economic recession, to survive the worst of today.
On the home shore, many fashion houses are facing the worst financial crisis. The number of participating designers in ELLE Fashion Week, which kick-starts this coming Thursday, drops significantly. Those whose purse is heavy enough to put on a show have admitted making a few creative and artistic compromises in order to have what is less than the best they want, which is far better than having nothing at all.
But look at the bright side, the financial crisis has encouraged a new direction in the fashion industry that promises long-term gain. Cost-cutting motivates designers and brands to unite in the form of fashion collective and Bangkok has never before seen as largest a number of sales and promotion events co-organised by several fashion houses. The glamorous industry is forced to tighten its belt and it's better joining hands to sell stock leftovers at a cheaper-than-expected price than having large overstock and horrifying overdraft.
Hipsters' favourite hang-out venue Fallabella was turned into a Sunday flea market for Salon de Style II [PHOTO courtesy of Masiri Tamsakul]
Earlier in the year, multibrand store Club 21 welcomed a horde of crowd in its first local Bazaar sales which saw everything from Marc Jacobs, Marni, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Comme des Garcon, Martin Margiela to more accessible labels such as DKNY and D&G available at 80-90% discount. In mid-2009 local brands like Headquarter, Issue, Asava, Sarit, Tube Gallery, Mathematics, Missile and spa line Erb co-host a sales event at J Gallery for 4 days. Brand members of the renowned fashion collective Bangkok Fashion Society opt for group collection presentation/ sales instead of individual show. Yesterday, the Salon de Style II sales event at Fallabella delighted shoppers and fashionistas with bargain price of old collections and sneak preview of upcoming offeriings from Vickteerut, Robshop, acessories collective Bangkoksmiths, Milin, Boyy, Flamingo, Munchu's, and cool children's wear brand Rhapsody.
Apart from a stronger and more active collaboration amongst brands and numerous sales events, the economic downturn has also prompted designers to launch 'sister line' – a more accessible and cheaper alternative for wider market. Issue has launched First Issue while Vickteerut is indulging in the success of its sister line, Robshop [photo on the right], which has broken even in a relatively short time. A friend of mine, former veteran fashion PR for a household brand, has reached a blunt conclusion, “Really, designers have to go mass but it's just a matter of rhetoric. It's like a taboo to say you're going mass but that's what is happening.”
Jaded cynics may see the sister line trend as a compromise of creative integrity but I'd rather consider it as survival strategy. Brands at least have a way to get through the hard time while shoppers have nothing but more choices and , certainly, an ability to afford their favourite brand with smaller budget. Those with heavy purse and higher creative demands still have the same old favourite and more expensive line to buy as well. This sounds much better than seeing fashion houses and shops being closed down. Much, much better, indeed.