Donna Karan: ‘We Are in a Crisis’

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Beaming with faith. Someone has to do it! Photo: Getty Images

The CFDA gathered for its first town-hall meeting today, moderated by CFDA president Diane Von Furstenberg. Their goal was to determine whether the fashion-show system is broken, and if so, how the industry can fix it. Donna Karan has long been an advocate of showing in season. You know, not showing buyers and editors clothes customers will wear in eight to twelve months' time, and not hanging fur-trimmed down jackets and mittens on the racks in August. "We are in a crisis," Karan said. "There's no question about it." Von Furstenberg is optimistic:

"There is no way when you are in the middle of a tsunami that you can change absolutely everything. But one thing that we can do and that I would like to do is make New York Fashion Week the most dynamic fashion week in the world."


That sounds fabulous, but what does it mean? Several at the meeting questioned the relevance of fashion shows and bemoaned retailers' early deep discounting. Von Furstenberg identified Vogue-sponsored Fashion's Night Out, a series of special in-store events to take place September 10, designed to encourage consumers to shop again, as a jumping-off point for this new attitude. Yet as amazing and dynamic as those events sound, they only comprise one night. What then? Will customers return a few days later, roused by a couple of cups of free punch and a runway strutting lesson with Alexander Wang, ready to lay down the AmEx for an $800 pair of new croc booties? With no solutions in sight to the problems at hand, it's not impossible. An extra visit to check if they're 30 percent off yet is surely worth it.

Debating the Fashion System [WWD]
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