>> Fall 2009 is "the make or break season" for small designers, according to Eric Wilson of The New York Times. Stores are reducing their orders by 20 percent or more for Fall, and some are already trying to cancel their Spring orders, which puts small businesses, especially those without independent financial backing, in a tenuous position. Basically, Wilson points out, "The more stores that close, the more designers will follow." And in show season, the cost of samples and putting on a show doesn't help with the strain.
"We're just trying to survive." »
Andrew Buckler of Buckler sums the feeling up best: "To be honest, we’re writing this whole year off. We’re just trying to survive.”
Peter Som and Christina and Swaim Hutson have already felt the pinch, and young designers are doing all they can to prevent the same happening to them. Flora Gill and Alexa Adams of Ohne Titel are lowering some prices and moving their dress production from Italy to New York. Brian Reyes is sharing a patternmaker with Lyn Devon and plans to split the cost of a Paris space to meet retailers with other burgeoning designers. Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai of Vena Cava are focusing on scheduling trunk shows for their $400 to $600 dresses and starting a blog.
Already, these labels have low overhead — they work out of their apartments, employ interns from fashion schools to sew and mail Fashion Week invitations, and can make a collection for under $25,000 if the fabrics are basic. It's just that when the retailers hurt, they're less willing to work with small designers — causing those designers to hurt. Eric Wilson portends that "the age of the young designer may be coming to an end" — let's hope he's not right.