Buyers expect '70s influence at NY Fashion Week

Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:36pm EST
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rich colors, refined styles and 1970s minimalism are likely trends at New York Fashion Week, U.S. department store buyers say as they look for clothes to entice wary consumers amid a fragile economic recovery.

Americans are shopping more but remain cautious, demanding value for money from retailers and designers after the worst financial crisis in decades, said buyers from top department stores Barneys, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

Rising commodity prices, in particular with cotton prices hitting record levels, also will likely trickle through to higher costs for clothes this year, experts said.

New York Fashion Week began on Thursday with 89 designers due to show their fall and winter collections for 2011. It is followed by fashion weeks in London, Paris and Milan.

"As the economy slowly recovers we're seeing customers returning to the stores but they're certainly very careful about what they're buying," said Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing. "We're not going to see customers shopping with the abandon that they were before the recession."

Spending by consumers, which accounts for about 70 percent of the U.S. economy, has not recovered from the downturn as unemployment hovers at 9 percent and many Americans struggle with high household debt.

"We're in that post-recession hangover period and I think everyone's a little nervous about saying, 'OK, it's over,'" said Catherine Moellering, executive vice president of fashion retail consultants Tobe.

But she added: "There are a lot of consumers who are ready to buy.   Continued...

<p>Models present creations at the Nicholas K Fall/Winter 2011 collection during New York Fashion Week February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>