These days, front and center in the dialogue on the recession and its effect on fashion is where high fashions fits into the picture. Will the economic downturn wipe out the luxury market for good, or merely sour its sales temporarily? According the findings of an Abrams Institute survey released yesterday on the subject, luxury fashion is here to stay. “A whopping 96% of respondents said that they thought the luxury goods market would endure the recession. 36.8% thought a ‘stronger, smaller core’ would make it, and 34.9% were confident that the aspirational noveau riche would keep business brisk. Only 4% thought that the recession had killed conspicuous consumption.” As for the quality that will most ensure luxury brands’ staying power: timelesness (which seems like somewhat circular logic).
Sadly, the art market didn’t fare so well in the eyes of the surveys’ participants: “Of six choices — Fine Art, Fine Wine, Couture Clothing, Designer Jewelry + Timepieces, Leather Goods and High-End Home Furnishings … 31% of our experts think that Fine Art will be the first luxury to be cut from luxury budgets.” As far as online shopping is concerned, not surprisingly, Net-a-Porter and Gilt Groupe were voted the web’s premiere portholes. As for the brands with the most staying power: Topshop – 34.1%, Chanel – 28%, Louis Vuitton – 21.9%, Forever 21 – 13.4%, H&M – 13.4%, Marc Jacobs – 13.4%, Hermès – 7.3%, J. Crew – 6.1%. I found this final reading one of the most interesting from the survey. A street-smart sense about fashion that’s been brewing in mainstream consumers’ consciousness for some time — that of melding high fashion with low (a sartorial approach that has likewise garnered Michelle Obama plenty of praise) — has reached a fever pitch, as is evidenced by survey takers citing H&M, Forever 21, and Marc Jacobs as having equal staying power. Luxury fashion may not be dying out just yet, but high street and discount retailers notorious for knocking off high fashion brands still reign as king.