Designer Clothing Prices DOWN

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Oscar de la Renta, fall 2009. Photo: Imaxtree

Remember how everyone was speculating that those crazy 70-percent-off sales that kicked in before the holiday-shopping season could knock clothing prices down across the board in the coming seasons, since no one would be willing to pay full price for something? That's exactly what's happening for fall. Retailers that have lost a lot of money in the downturn, including Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom, are asking designers to lower prices because they don't want to pay full price for things. Many have slashed budgets by up to 30 percent, and with the exception of a handful, designers are obliging and lowering prices. Albeit grudgingly.

Don't get too excited, though, because this doesn't mean that come October we'll all be walking around in head-to-toe Oscar de la Renta because it's practically free. Oscar de la Renta CEO Alex Bolen said they didn't want to lower prices, but had no choice. So select items, mostly shoes, will be cheaper. An Oscar blouse that might have cost $900 will now cost $795. Chloé has already marked down prices — its pre-fall collection was about 35 percent less than a year ago. J. Mendel cocktail dresses that used to start at $3,500 will now start at $1,700. Catherine Malandrino made some cotton pieces for fall that will retail between $195 and $345, while her highest collection piece is $1,900. Malandrino called the new pricing strategy "a new way of thinking." Oh, the newly broke are so cute. Some of us regularly broke people only buy one full-price item a year, if that. (All thanks to this.)

And then there are the stalwarts who refuse to lower prices, like Chanel, Prada, and Versace. Versace's CEO told WWD that lowering prices would force the label to compromise quality. "We want to respect those clients who have always given us faith and have bought our products convinced they were buying a quality product,” he said. At least someone respects the full-price shopper these days. Because a good part of the world probably just resents her.

Designers React to Stores Asking for Lower Prices [WWD]