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fashion industry, the recession should also be acknowledged as a positive reinforcement concerning consumerism within high fashion and haute couture. With its positive impact on consumerism, there also has been an illumination on the some of the consumer inequality during the recession. Industries of the Recession Almost every market in the United States has been impacted due the recession. Businesses have gone out of business, independent corporations have merged together, and unemployment rates are at an all-time high. Automotive retail has hit a pit, with the closing of General Motors factories around the nation, and Home Depot had to close all 34 of their Expo Design Centre’s. Major department stores such as Macy’s and Sears found it important to close various stores in order to endure hard times during this recession. However, with all the sad and tragic effects of the recession, society must still survive. The fashion industry has also undergone some of their lowest times during the recession. The need for fashion and retail is not as necessary as it used to be when there was more of a value to the American Dollar. Even New York fashion week endured issues due to the recession. This year, fashion week was done differently due to budget adjustments for the show. For the first time, labels teamed up for a joint runway show, and showcased less looks than the usual 32-42. The new guidelines implemented on the 2009 New York fashion week saved designers 40% in the costs. Though some designers had to format to fit the guidelines of the year’s show, Paul Wilmot, head of Paul Wilmot Communications, which represents Oscar De la Renta said, “having a venue for staging presentations that were cheap and cheerful would greatly help designers in this economy.
HIGH fashion collaborations
High fashion and haute couture have found ways to still allows for successful consumerism during the recession. While the high priced couture sits and collects dust on the racks around high end retail stores, such as Saks and Bloomingdale’s, these same designers have found a way to deliver their fashion to the conscious consumer. Swedish clothing company H&M has teamed up with some of the high end fashion designers to produce affordable couture collaborations. This high-street store has made designer labels keener to the reasonable recession shopper. A recent successful collaboration was with Malaysian fashion designer Jimmy Choo, known for hand-made women’s shoes. This alliance allowed for the money-conscious consumers to look great at a great price. H&M has also done collaborations with Stella McCartney, Robert Cavalli and an expected lingerie line with Sonia Rykiel. Payless shoe was sure to incorporate Christian Siriano in their line of shoes. Sirano is an American fashion designer who decided to contribute to world of fashion for less footwear. Payless on the runway specifically tailors to their limited designer shoe line, which also is featured in many runway shows. Success was when Target teamed up with Isaac Mizrahi to produce great business attire for women shopping on a budget. Sadly, this epic duo came to an end in 2008. The collaborations between these stores and the designers have created revenue and fashion for the consumer on a budget. Co$t Effective, Quite Exclu$ive The virtual market of online shopping has continued to positively influence consumerism for luxury retailers. Many of the high-end stores and boutiques are not gaining as much revenue from their loyal customers due to the recession. High priced items go untouched in the department stores, and customers are now concentrating on the importance of price and of quality. However while the doors of these stores go unstirred, the internet is flourishing with buyers. Luxury e-tailers are individuals or companies that sell designer goods online at discounted prices are not only collecting revenue for themselves, but providing the consumer with high-end fashion at a low-low price, as much as 80% off original prices. Financial journal, The Economist focuses on the financial aspect of the world. The article, “Selling designer goods online: When cheap is exclusive” gives an in-depth look about the discount fashion websites. Though these websites are available, they are only accessed by invitation only. Boss of Hautelook, Adam Berhard says, “This lends them an air of exclusivity and creates the sort of buzz marketers crave” (par.2). The same consumerism that occurred in the department stores is able to prevail with the e-tailers. These websites are also quite beneficial for designers because they use the sites to quickly get rid of surplus inventory. These companies are expecting hundreds of millions dollars in revenue and will attain it with selling designer apparel, spa services, even yachts and apartments. Not only have they provided affordable consumerism but Rue La La has made their website mobile accessible through purchases made with phone applications.
Holiday Cheer over Consumerism It’s the most debtful time of the year! Catchy jingle right? Only consumers view the holidays as the most wonderful time of the year. Sure it is wonderful, considering family, love, food, gathering, and celebrations, however it is not as enjoyable when one is in debt due to the high demand of gifts of the season. Consumers are pressured and overwhelmed to compete to make purchases in order to satisfy loved ones. With the state of the economy, consumerism has blinded society into thinking that it is always okay to buy things, even when one does not have the money to fund the purchases. In order to keep up the holiday memento, many stores ensured major sales on Black Friday. Best Buy has continued the competition with their new marketing plan of “Better than Black Friday” sales that occur every Friday and Saturday after Black Friday until the end of the holiday season. It creates a season of competition, rather than ensuring quality goods and a fair price for their devoted consumers. None the less, critics have not considered the consumerism during the holiday time such an evil until the recession hit the United States. It is now viewed as a distortion of what the true significance of the holiday season truly holds. Consumerism has not just taken over the winter holiday season, but has made an exception for every holiday. Valentine’s Day stores are promoting purchases of fine chocolates, diamonds, and romantic getaways at the 4 Seasons Hotels. Mother’s day is just as bad; buying mom that expensive kitchen appliance or high end jewelry. People line up outside stores for their grand opening of the gift society deems a necessity. Consumers want to make the fiscally hard year finally joyous during the holiday season, and for some it means adding on more debt in order to fulfill holiday fantasies. None the less, there is one organization who is promoting consumer abstinence during the holiday season. Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative that was started by Canadian Mennonites. Their website states that “they offer a prophetic no to the patterns of over-consumption of middle-class North Americans.” They stand with open arms to Christians and others all over Canada to participate in the movement of “de-commercializing Christmas and re-designing’s a Christian lifestyle that is richer in meaning, smaller in impact upon the earth, and greater in giving to people less-privileged.” Buy Nothing Christmas is joining the movement of an anti-consumerist holiday season. In attempt to re-patch the nation’s economy, organizations like Buy Nothing Christmas are informing and hoping that society can calm down on the consumerism and get excited about what the holiday’s truly mean. Values that set con$umer$ apart The attempt of economic equality through consumerism during the recession has had both negative and positive results. Author Sidney Verba of Equality in America: the view from the top has discussed that economic equality is more political. The dominant economic model states, “Equality and inequality result from the decisions made in market encounters among rational, utility-maximizing individuals” (2). These utilities she speaks about are personal and basic beliefs, and are revealed in the market behavior of the individual. However, she shares how Lester Thurow observed that utility functions are, “just a fancy way of saying that individuals do whatever individuals do. By definition, there is no such thing as an individual who does not maximize us utility” (2). Sure, everyone has the basic belief of desire and necessity within consumerism, but the individuals who lift desires onto a pedestal while others lift necessities onto a pedestal, an economic inequality is created. The Marxist economic view analysis denies that economic inequality is due to culture, but objective class interests. The values within individuals and separate classes shape economic behavior. The values of these separate classes breeds economic inequality, and until each class realizes the rationality of necessities over desires, economic inequality will always remain.
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