Creativity is key to weather recession in fashion

Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:35am EST
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By Kylie MacLellan and Catherine Bosley

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Sticking to what you do well is the best way to make it through a recession, say two British designers who have steered their businesses through previous economic storms and survived.

Betty Jackson, who launched her first collection in the middle of a recession in 1981, and Paul Smith who opened his first London shop in 1979 as a downturn took hold, are now two of Britain's most well-established designers.

"In times like this you have to focus on what you do well and do it better and really try and not be too much affected by it," Jackson told Reuters, dressed in black and seated before a large window in her London office.

Jackson, who was last year asked to design a new robe for civil judges in England and Wales, said she was able to weather Britain's early 80s recession because 75 percent of her business was abroad, including in the United States.

"Of course you have to respond to it but you also have to concentrate on what you do and actually deliver what you do better," she said.

She said her Betty Jackson Two diffusion range, launched in 2004, was getting a "great response" and that women were opting more for accessories as a way to keep buying brands they loved at a time when money was tight.

Jackson also said she expected 2009 would be difficult, particularly for those without solid finances who would struggle to get credit, but she remained positive about the outlook for fashion industry.

"We're in a credit crunch not a creative crunch, so I think in fact what everybody's going to do is work harder and that will be quite exciting," she said.   Continued...

<p>British designer Paul Smith speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in central London February 17, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning</p>