Recessionista vs. Fashionista

designer clothesRight now we are clearly in the midst of a fashion crisis of epic, or should we say economic, proportions. Our newly popular recessionista, as well as, the tried and true fashionista, are bringing the dichotomy of American socio-economic issues to the fashionable forefront. With a recession looming over everyone’s heads, it’s no big surprise that the fashion industry has suffered greatly. For those of us in the industry, it began well over a year ago, with the demand from retailers requesting more for less. Retailers have been negotiating down every penny from their suppliers, or worse, not buying at all. So with the disappearing discretionary spending of the fashionista the recessionistas was born. Right?

Maybe not; it is a common belief that as our shopaholic fashionista has felt the pinch of the recession she has become thrifty. The concept is fashionistas have traded in their Ferragamo pumps for Old Navy flip-flops. While we certainly believe a great many middle-class and upper middle-class fashionistas have stopped coveting the latest 4k “it” handbag in favor of shopping Loehmann’s sales, many have not. At the high-end of the luxury market the uber-fashionista still remains. At the same time, we don’t buy into the belief that being a recessionista is simply a new trend. Being a budget conscious, comparison shopper has always been in fashion. This is why designer diffusion lines at Target, or stores like H&M and Forever 21 have proven to be so popular. The real change that has brought the recessionista such media attention is their sudden enormous increase in numbers.

It’s no surprise, given our current economic climate, that recession friendly retailer Wal-Mart has thrived. While specialty and department stores are failing left and right, Wal-Mart is snapping up a larger segment of the consumer market. Wal-Mart sales have outperformed estimates and are projected to show a 3% rise at the end of this quarter. During a recession, the consumer values price above all else, which explains why companies like Wal-Mart and McDonalds are often referred to as recession-proof. Recessionistas are not only shopping mass-marketers in larger numbers then ever before, but they are becoming craftier as well. Whether it’s DIY projects, scoping out sample sales, reworking existing wardrobes, renting designer duds, or even the newly popular clothing swaps, budget fashion is booming.

As the recessionista is coming into her own, the uber-fashionista is still out there dropping the big bucks on the big names. Parisian luxury brand Hermes managed to turn a profit in 2008, even reporting a 6.2% rise in the 4th quarter. The ultimate in high-end luxury LVMH which owns countless luxury brands including, Louis Vuitton, Moet, TAG Heuer, Fendi, and Givenchy, had a 4% sales increase in 2008. LVMH’s CEO Bernard Arnault declared that his company was “resistant to economic cycles.” Luxury brands that targeted the upper middle-class fashionista like Calvin Klein and Donna Karen are suffering and aspiration brands like Gucci have seen a drop. However, the couture luxury brand remains solid. Brands like Hermes, Chanel, and Prada are going strong, thanks to the uber-fashionista. As the recessionista fills in her wardrobe with Forever 21 pieces the fashionista prefers to buy less product, but in far higher quality for a longer wardrobe lifespan.


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1 Comentário: said...

I agree with your post. I don't think the uber-fashionista will ever shop at Walmart to get her fashion fix. By the way, I found your blog via BlogCatalog and was just stopping by to say "Hi!" Visit me anytime at

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