October 25, 2008

I think some people who say they love fashion really just love having lots of stuff.

There's a really interesting story in the Style section of the Times this weekend on people who are interested in frugal fashion -- Recessionistas, they're called (I guess). I've always been curious about these people -- fashion-interested people who claim that in lieu of buying a $1000+ designer bag, they're nearly but not quite as happy buying the cheap-mass version of this-or-that designer's collaborative brand at Target. To be honest, I never thought that would be the same customer. And anyway, I don't really understand it. Maybe there need to be better definitions, but are people who are self-definitively fashion lovers necessarily label-fiends? If you can't have Jonathan Saunders mainline pieces, is it really the same (or even close) to buy his line for Target? Sure, I guess, if colors and brand name are the only things you're after, but I'd venture to say that a lot of customers who love high-end fashion love quality, fabrication, and the luxury of exclusivity just as much, if not more than the visual aspect of design alone. How else to explain women who will always choose a black Chanel cashmere cardigan or an Armani suit jacket over one that's $100 at a mid-range department store?

So whenever I read stories like this, they make me think about the blurred lines between people who love fashion, what that really means, and people who maybe don't really love fashion, but just really like having new clothes all the time. I mean, lots of people just like to have a lot of stuff, preferably with a name attached to it, but most importantly a lot of stuff. And these are the people who are hurting most from the recession -- the Recessionistas can't buy as much stuff in this economy as they'd like to.

Me? I've never really been able to afford all the pieces I want from Comme or Demeulemeester or Margiela or Rick -- and the recession really hasn't changed that, i.e. I still can't.

Style.com, the Web site of Vogue magazine, has declared passé the free-spending fashionista of the type lionized in “Sex and the City.” In her stead, the Web site fashioned a new icon for the new austerity, a plucky heroine able to fixate on designer logos even at a time when her house might face foreclosure.

Derek Blasberg wrote this summer on style.com: “You should know that while the fashionista may have locked herself in the vault with her tiaras, her younger, hipper sister — recessionista — is at the mall finding designer threads (or diffusion designer threads) at discount prices. Look for her at Target, Uniqlo, Payless or Kohl’s, all of whom have inked deals with designers recently. That’s because recessionistas aren’t letting a little thing like falling stock prices and rising gas bills get in the way of their wardrobe.”