In hard times, connections are key for new designers

Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:02am EST
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By Rebekah Kebede and Kristina Cooke

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When times get hard in fashion, it's not about who you know but who knows you.

For emerging designers trying to survive a crippling recession, good connections are more important than ever, fashion experts say.

Retail buyers, struggling to move inventory when consumers are reluctant to spend, are less willing to take a risk on designers they don't already know, they say.

"To buy a piece from, say, a Prada or a Donna Karan, the bigger names, it's always an easy choice, said Thuy Diep, the designer behind the clothing line Thuy. "These are brands that are household names."

Diep is one of hundreds of designers unveiling fall collections at New York's semi-annual Fashion Week which ends on Friday.

Amy Silver and Maureen Moser, who own a specialty boutique called Entree in Port Washington, New York, say they attend to get to know new designers. While they typically pick out five new designers, this year they are adding only three.

"You just have to be more careful at the moment, until the economy recovers," said Silver, whose well-heeled clientele have been hit by the crashing stock market, credit squeeze, job losses and the alleged scam by Bernard Madoff.

Among the new designers they are adding is Mara Hoffman, whose collection focused on flowing dresses and tunics in bold, colorful prints.   Continued...

<p>Designer Thuy Diep waves after the Thuy collection show at New York Fashion Week February 15, 2009. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri</p>