National passion seeps into crisis fashion

Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:32am EDT
 
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By Sophie Hardach

PARIS (Reuters) - You could call it fashionalism. At a Vivienne Westwood show, buyer Amanda Ware lists new trends she has spotted in London: quirky hats, trendy scarves -- and British-made designer accessories featuring the Union Jack.

Several fashion buyers visiting this month's Paris shows reported a jump in nationalist purchases, especially in London, which before the economic crisis prided itself on being the capital of multicultural style.

"I think it's this whole Britishness thing," said Ware, who buys accessories for luxury store Fortnum & Mason in London. In the boom years, the French and Italian brands she stocks were more popular than British ones, she said. That has changed.

Ware has adjusted her purchases accordingly, buying visibly British accessories such as a Paul Smith scarf with a London city print, which she expects to do well despite the general retail slump.

"There's been a lot of support for both Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith, it's been the strongest this season," she said.

"Vivienne Westwood is more tartan, Paul Smith is strong with the Union Jack. It's really flown over the past 8-12 weeks."

From workers protesting against foreigners taking jobs to governments bailing out failing local industries, fashion executives point to a global wave of nationalist protests and policies since the world economy turned sharply down.

The World Bank said in a report this month that since last November, 17 of the G20 nations had implemented measures whose effect is to restrict trade at the expense of other countries.   Continued...

 
<p>British designer Paul Smith poses for a photo in his office in central London in this February 17, 2009 file photo. Several fashion buyers visiting this month's Paris shows reported a jump in nationalist purchases, especially in London, which before the economic crisis prided itself on being the capital of multicultural style. Photo taken February 17, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning</p>