Friday, February 20, 2009

Fall RTW 2009 - Retreating From The Runway

Is it enough to have Anna Wintour as a fan?

After a season of silliness to sumptuousness on the New York runways
the Wall Street Journal reports on Peter Som who seems to be the only designer
who understands that fashion is a business.

Living on the Edge in World of Fashion
Designer Peter Som Sits Out New York Fashion Week, Illustrating How a Solid Reputation Doesn't Pay the Bills

Mr. Som, who has been in business for almost 10 years, is one of several Vogue-stamped young designers who thus far have survived the fickle world of fashion design. In 2004 he was a semifinalist in the first CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund initiative, which supports and promotes young designers. In 2007, he took on a second job as the designer for Bill Blass, where he was tasked with adding some sizzle to the storied but dusty American fashion house. His shows, a highlight of Fashion Week, garnered big sponsorships from companies including American Express and Mercedes-Benz.

But in an industry built on illusions, appearances are deceiving. Like most emerging fashion houses, Mr. Som's business, even at its height, barely broke even. Until last year, when a private-equity investor paid $3 million for a 65% stake in the company, Mr. Som and his business partner, Chief Executive Elana Posner, never paid themselves salaries.

Ms. Posner, a former corporate lawyer and Web entrepreneur, says that the entire fashion industry "is in survival mode."

Really? Not from what I could see in the runway shows.

In a nod to the times, Mr. Som, is sitting out Fashion Week this season and putting on a small presentation in his showroom instead.

Mr. Som says his eight-person company is responding to the headwinds by becoming "a leaner, meaner machine." He has already dipped into a rainy day fund that his parents, both architects, socked away for him.
Mr. Som and Ms. Posner will face a crucial test in the next few weeks, when they negotiate financing to produce their fall line. The company has received a few calls from potential investors and is meeting with one this week.

For now, Mr. Som is preparing to show his pared-down fall collection containing 16 looks, compared with about 35 in previous seasons. Ms. Posner is lowering price points by at least 20%, partly by pushing their New York factories to give her cheaper rates. A jacquard pleated skirt will cost $695 at retail, compared with $850 for a similar style for fall 2008.

I am a big fan of Peter Som. He is tremendously talented and I hope that by lowering his prices and going into "survival mode" his company will thrive.

As for a few other brands... like Miss Sixty....I can't say that I would be too disappointed if they didn't make it through the recession.

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Deja Pseu said...

I must say that coat looks far better on Anna than on the model. If designers want to survive, they need to make clothes that women can actually wear, including larger sizes. When the biggest size on the rack is a 6, you're walking away from a lot of money.

Classy-opeia said...

I agree with Deja Pseu. Wintour looks much better in the coat. The model looks a bit like a little girl playing dress-up.

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