Op-Ed Runway Shows

Paris Haute Couture Spring 2009: Is the Couture Purse Shrinking?

Dates: Jan 26 – 29, 2009

City of Paris

City of Paris

DALLAS, Dec 4, 2008 / FW/ — First, it was the number of haute couture clients shrinking from 1,500 at the turn of the 21st century to 200 according to the latest count by BBC in 2007. And now, according to the New York Times, even luxury brands from fashion to fine jewelry are tightening their spending. So, is the couture purse shrinking?

Historically, haute couture clients are considered to be immune to economic fluctuations. After all, we are talking about the super rich. But, that was before the global economy had taken hold, where what is happening in one part of the world affects the other parts.

The U.S. is in a recession, and even before that, American haute couture clients have been shrinking. European royalty has been stable as supporters of the made-to-measure craft, while the Middle East through its royalty and the nouveau riche is now the home of the bulk of haute couture clients.

But, with crude oil futures below $50 a barrel, is the Middle East upper class still insulated from the ebb tide of the global economy? After all, fossil fuel is still governed by the law of supply and demand.

And, whether the super rich would like to acknowledge it or not, they still live in the same planet Earth like the rest of the world, hence caring for our environment is also an issue they have to face.

With more energy efficient cars and industrial machineries being invented and manufactured, the demand for oil is being affected. Thus, whether the super rich like it or not, their businesses are being affected with the newly found environmental consciousness.

Going back to the question, is the couture purse shrinking, yes it is shrinking because the client list is shrinking. But, is it shrinking because the fortune of the super rich is shrinking? There are no statistics to back that up. In fact, from the way it looks, the rich are getting richer while the poor is getting poorer, like it has always been.

I believe that the answer lies in the attitude, including the perception towards haute couture by the whole world. Fashion and economics, though intimately intertwined are on different planes of existence. Fashion is about creativity while economics is about facts & figures. If the two can meet even for just a moment, then haute couture can be as viable and as vibrant as it was once.

[MARI DAVIS]

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One Response

  1. Yijun Troedsson August 29, 2009