The shape of things to come

balmainYou’d have to be a hibernating bear (and indeed have been hibernating for quite some time) to be completely unaware of the current worldwide financial crisis. A consequence of this meltdown is that the style sections of newspapers and magazines are now devoted to churning out features on investment dressing. Hem lines! WHAT. DO. THEY. MEAN? Some say they rise, and some are adamant that they fall with the stock market.

Ddjhfjkhudsuuuuuut6y7ue eeeebdhjsssPU)cl;xz zzzzzzzzzz’. Oh, sorry! Seem to have dozed off there. Trying to keep track of what length my skirt should be and the cost per wear of any investment pieces I am thinking of purchasing has left me simply exhausted.

But, there is more to say on this subject then what’s currently being recycled in the media, which is “customers should look for investment pieces and value for money”. Well. Yes.

Jess Cartner-Morley, fashion editor at the Guardian explores this well excavated subject a little further in this article, lean times and hemlines. It’s a feature about how fashion will be affected by the credit crunch, in the aesthetic sense rather than a business one. She reflects upon the trends that emerged from the boom and bust times in recent history with a view of defining this economic crisis’ appearance. She draws no firm conclusions but she does highlight a couple of interesting theories including this one from Valerie Steele, internationally renowned Fashion Historian:

The hemlines theory was invented back in the 1920s. But it just doesn’t hold up. Take the 20s – hemlines actually began to fall in 1927, two years before the crash. They were falling by 1969, two years before the downturn of 1971

Contrary to popular belief it would seem that the ‘look’ of the great depression was actually a result of what was fashionable the two years prior to it.

Jess then goes on to quote Jo Hooper, Head of Womenswear at John Lewis. Hooper implies that the softer, sculpted, voluminous silhouette that is becoming popular will be the defining look of the recession. She identifies the current vogue for the round-shouldered look as:

cocooning, which is the feeling of wrapping up, of hunkering down. It’s a basic human instinct.

Both of these theories are very feasible. However never one to rest on my laurels, I decided to do some research of my own. Mystic Meg wouldn’t return my calls, so I settled for the next best thing: Mark Watson, the Womenswear Editor at trend forecasting agency WGSN. I asked him for his thoughts on what he felt the look of the credit crunch would be. This is the PG version of his email response:

The most obvious effect of ‘The credit crunch’ as we saw during Paris Fashion week is that most designers will march to their own tune, sticking to what they know best and satisfying customers who are loyal to their labels rather than putting their heads on the chopping block of fashion whimsies. What may be of interest is that prior to this financial crisis designers were focusing on the shoulder and the power dressing 80s particularly taking silhouettes from Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana. In times of a strong financial system there is a the ‘power’ look whilst we at WGSN are currently moving towards a more fantastical, ethereal feeling soft layers, a looser silhouette looking at Bill Gibb also Nina Ricci collection in Paris.


Reading these three very different responses from credible industry experts; it is obvious that defining what the aesthetic of the credit-crunch will be is no easy feat. Not least because there are no parallels to be drawn between ‘fashions’ from one recession to the next. Each financial crisis has been brought about by different economic factors, which therefore in turn mean consumer habits, circumstances and attitudes are unique to that period of time.

Nevertheless history will record that this recession had a ‘style’ just as it has done for the 1930s and 1970s, regardless of whether it was actually the result of the downturn.

So, lets try and put this subject to bed once and for all! Vote! VOTE! VOTE LIKE YOU ARE SHAPING TOMORROW! Because you are.


All images are SS09 from Style.com. In order of appearance: Balmain, Balenciaga, Nina Ricci

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Some Like It Fashion only own the copyright to some of the pictures on this blog. The pictures on this blog are not used for commercial purposes. If you own the copyright of any of the pictures used and want them removed, drop Edith a line. If you would like to use any of the pictures from this blog that Some Like It Fashion do own then please get in touch. Edith will almost certainly let you take them, but she'd like to know where they go.
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