Designers at London Fashion Week, which started Friday, have reacted to the credit crunch by toning down extravagant collections and opting for intimate showings rather than catwalk spectaculars.
Names like Antoni & Alison, Duro Olowu and Maria Grachvogel – whose clients include Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and Victoria Beckham – have organized smaller scale “presentations for journalists and buyers.
Less costly than a catwalk show, most of them will use plastic rather than human mannequins.
“Given the current economic climate, I feel it is more a time of focusing on genuine creativity rather than unnecessary extravagance, Olowu told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“With a catwalk show, you are looking at spending £25,000-40,000 (?28,000-45,000, $36,000-58,000), often more, and given what has happened in the last few months, many designers are having to reassess their business choices.
Designers like Christopher Kane and Nathan Jenden have chosen smaller venues, as did some at September’s fashion week.
Others some have opted to embrace the credit crunch with a stylishly frugal aesthetic for publicity material – Sinha-Stanic sent out invitations which looked like they were made on a home photocopier for their show.
The gloomy economic climate is not stopping London Fashion Week organizers the British Fashion Council (BFC) from marking the 25th anniversary of the event, a six-day, 58-show event unveiling collections for autumn-winter 2009.
London is traditionally seen as a launch pad for young talent and has helped designers like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Stella McCartney, Hussein Chalayan, Gareth Pugh and Matthew Williamson gain international exposure.
And organizers are again looking to the future by staging a show featuring eco-friendly designers like Noir/Bllack noir under the Estethica initiative in the prestigious BFC Tent on the lawns of the Natural History Museum.
Long-established designers like Vivienne Westwood Red Label, Paul Costelloe, Caroline Charles, John Rocha, Betty Jackson and Nicole Farhi will, though, be the backbone of the week.
After a compromise between organizers in London and New York, over a date clash which some commentators feared would threaten London’s future, Friday coincides with the last day of shows at New York Fashion Week.
This agreement – which prevented a situation where the two events would have been held at the same time – resolved a high-stakes issue for Britain, which even saw Sarah Brown, wife of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, intervene.
The twice-yearly London Fashion Week injects some £20 million into the British capital’s economy, as well as £100 million of orders.
In a bid to ensure its potential is harnessed, London Mayor Boris Johnson has spent £40,000 bringing in around 30 buyers from wealthy markets like the Middle East for the event.
He was behind a similar scheme in September which led to buyers placing orders worth around £14 million.