NY Fashion Week to push stylish consumers to spend

Wed Sep 9, 2009 8:10am EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York's Fashion Week kicks off on Thursday with a very simple message for style-conscious consumers -- spend, spend, spend.

Designers are hoping to inspire consumer confidence as they reevaluate how the industry operates during the worst U.S. recession in some 70 years, which has seen sales at American retailers fall every month for the past year.

The semi-annual Fashion Week in New York -- followed by fashion weeks in London, Milan and Paris -- is aimed at retailers and media to look at upcoming fashion but consumers have to wait six months for the new styles.

"Fashion Week has confused consumers," said Diane von Furstenberg, designer and head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. "They see things in the newspaper, then go to the store and see completely different things."

While the designs for spring and summer 2010 will appear this week, many shops are filled with clothes for fall and winter. Yet temperatures are still warm, and those clothes will likely be discounted by the time the cooler weather arrives.

Along with the conflicting styles, the weak economy has many reevaluating such issues as delivery dates, said Fern Mallis, senior vice president of IMG Fashion, which runs the New York event officially known as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

They must weigh getting items to big department stores early to please customers against clothes that arrive so early no one is ready to buy them, she said. "Sometimes it takes you getting down to the bottom to relook at it all," she said.

Von Furstenberg suggested shipping fewer clothes more often. "It's important for everybody to shrink the offering, make it more exciting and maybe make it more often," she said.   Continued...

<p>Customers wait in line at an Aeropostale store in New York August 20, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>