Hard-hit fashion shopper seeks one "must-have" item

Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:03am EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The adage of choosing quality over quantity may never be so true as when a recession-weary consumer looks at the latest fashions.

At New York's Fashion Week, showing a piece that stands out as the season's 'must-have' item can capture the imagination of consumers who are reluctant to shop in a grim economic climate and are in no position to retrofit their entire wardrobe.

"With the economy, it's important for almost every piece should have an emotional reaction when you're looking to make a purchase," Cynthia Steffe designer Shaun Kearney told Reuters. "I design with that concept, whether you love it or hate it.

"With everyone being more careful about what they're spending, you have to fall in love with a piece," he said, pointing to a mint green suede dress with a ruffled, plunging neckline as a 'must-have' contender in his collection.

To evoke such a response, imaginative designers have to take risks.

"People want to spend their money on something that's really emotional, anything that gives you that really good feeling, that feeling of 'I've got to have that,'" said designer Rebecca Taylor.

In her spring line, Taylor said she would select a washed silk, deconstructed blazer to wear like a cardigan sweater.

"I'll put on a cardigan and think, 'I feel really cute,'" she said. "Then I'll put on a blazer and think, 'Now I feel really cool.'"   Continued...

<p>Models present creations at the Rebecca Taylor Spring 2010 collection during New York Fashion Week, September 13, 2009. REUTERS/Kena Betancur</p>