Mary McFadden is right. “Years from now,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “When people look back at this period in our civilization, they’ll say: This was the beginning of functional clothes … I’m sorry, in a way people’s lifestyles have become very utilitarian.” Hot damn, I say. Let’s get back to basics and save the economy! Perhaps as we skitter about with financial wreckage piling up, full-bore luxury and over-the-top design will evolve into a practical, more simple style. For sure, high-end retail is taking a beating. Sales at Neiman Marcus, which includes Bergdorf Goodman, dropped nearly 16 percent, Sak’s sank 10.9 percent. “Even the über-wealthy are slowing down,” said a Deutsche Bank analyst. “It’s going to be a discount-store Christmas.”
Elsewhere, Tiffany and Bulgari are putting new store openings on hold, and Dior may close some shops. But there’s a little good news. At least one company, Ralph Lauren, is bucking the trend, and continues to move full steam ahead and has even recently launched a new women’s line. Silver lining or hubris? You decide.