NY runways hint future's bright for designer shades

Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:58pm EDT
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By Jan Paschal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - If there's a winning look on New York's fashion runways this week, sunglasses may trump the spring clothes from top designers.

Shades, from huge Jackie Onassis frames to dashing aviators, 1980s rocker specs and nerdy squares, popped up in spring 2009 collections and attracted notice as an affordable way for style-conscious consumers to don designer wares.

Showing sunglasses were Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg, Derek Lam, Perry Ellis, Lacoste, Carmen Marc Valvo, Nicole Miller, Gottex, Catherine Malandrino and others among the 200-plus designers at the semi-annual New York Fashion Week.

The sunglasses trade can benefit as even the wealthiest consumers become more budget conscious as the U.S. economy faces a possible recession by year's end, experts said.

And while dropping hundreds of dollars on designer shades may seem silly to some, it's more affordable than the cost of a designer outfit, handbag or high-end shoes.

"With sunglasses, there's less guilt factor than with a bag, which can cost $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 or more," said Robert Schienberg, spokesman for Marchon, which makes Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Fendi and Coach eyewear.

"Women are running out of room in their closets and their budgets," he said.

Driving demand for designer sunglasses is the lack of an "it" handbag at the moment, retailers and trend experts said.   Continued...

<p>Models present creations from the Michael Kors Spring 2009 collection at New York Fashion Week September 10, 2008. REUTERS/Keith Bedford</p>