Category Archives: Politics

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”- Ernest Benn

Protestable Fashion

Protest is defined as ‘expressing an objection to what someone has said or done’. Most people protest over mundane, even trivial things all day long (ever complain when the alarm clock sounds at 7am?), yet there are some objections that are so deep-seeded they can cause feelings of unrest that boil over and unite friends and strangers alike. This is what is known as a ‘movement’.  Such is the case with “Occupy Wall Street” currently residing in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan and quickly spreading to other cities.  The movement revolves around the richest 1% of Americans holding the rest of us (the 99%) hostage with the decisions they make to benefit themselves politically and financially, but negatively affect everyone else. It appears that this protest is the unifying theme for participants as a visit to Zuccotti will reveal a vast and decentralized list of issues protesters are attempting to draw attention to (rejection of student loan repayments, lack of universal health care, the stagnant economy, stale job market, inability of the government to hold Wall Street accountable).  Yet, the ability to unify numerous interests into one voice of discontent and fraction it off to smaller cities throughout the United States and Europe, speaks volumes.  In fact, it is quite similar to the anti-Vietnam movement of the late 1960’s- 1970’s.  By analyzing the protesters of both movements, we are able to see that fashion can go far beyond fabric, clothes and accessories and become a platform for people to communicate a message to the masses.

The 1960’s- 70’s was a time of transformation stateside and internationally. Massive groups rallied around the Vietnam War, taking issue with not only the U.S’s involvement but also the tactics and weapons being utilized.  The popularization of the television opened up channels of communication worldwide, allowing the international community to see first hand images from the war itself and from the many protest activities being held to speak out against it.  Information became power, and power became a voice, one that was all-inclusive.  Fashion as well became more democratized with women embracing the right to eschew the mainstays of female fashion (goodbye bras! hello baggy menswear pants!) and dress they way they wanted. The overarching style of the time was that of the hippie sub-culture, and it was seen in clothes that were worn, with looser, free flowing styles:

Advance 4o years and what we find is a similar set of circumstances occurring in Zuccotti Park, NYC with Occupy Wall Street. People are fed up with the political and financial status quo of the country and are again finding a voice to express their discontent and encouraging everyone else to speak up as well.  With advances in technology and the proliferation of  social media platforms that allow a free flow of information, the heart of the protest can be extrapolated to other communities quickly and efficiently.  The major difference between the protests of the 1960’s and Occupy Wall Street is that in the latter case, participants are living full-time on-premise and therefore, utility and functionality are of utmost importance when it comes to fashion:

The real fashion statement seems to be the written, not the worn kind:

The best fashion statement may have come from Kanye West when he visited the protesters last week:

Russell Simmons and Kanye West visit Zuccotti Park

His Givenchy plaid shirt, Alexander Wang t-shirt and Balmain jeans, with a combined price tag of $4,000.00, seemed a rather odd outfit to wear to a movement that stands against the 1% that Mr. West belongs to.  How many of us in the 99% could afford an outfit like that, even a Designer Impostor version?

Then again, they say in order to understand the end, you must go back to the beginning. It would appear that fashion is at the heart of it all:

Advertisements

$9.99, Are You Outta Your Mind?!

Where is the Value?

The answer to that question depends on what you are buying.  A pair of super trendy shoe clips for your tween-age daughter, probably not; its a good buy.  But a presidential economic reform platform? You might want to think twice.

Quite unexpectedly, Herman Cain, GOP Presidential nominee, and his 999 tax plan, have become the focus of a media frenzy.  Cain, a businessman who revitalized the Godfather pizza chain by closing down under performing stores and demonstrating his masterful marketing skills by dropping the cost of a large pizza by $.01 from $10.00 to $9.99, thereby making customers believe they were getting a real value, seems to be proposing the same tactics to transform the U.S. tax code.  His 999 plan contemplates eventually, and only temporarily, replacing the current tax structure with a  9% income tax, allowing no exemptions or deductions (in lieu of payroll taxes), 9% corporate tax rate with no breaks or deductions and a 9% national sales tax.  Unlike most people out there, we aren’t interested in debating if the 999 plan will generate as much revenue as the current plan. Rather, what strikes our interest is what is up with the magic number 9 that grabs our attention and more importantly, our wallets.

As not to beleaguer the point of how retailers choose to price their goods, we can skim down the process to competitor-based and consumer-based pricing.  Competitor pricing is exactly what it sounds like, selecting a retail price that is based in a comparison to the price of similar products being sold by other companies.  A good example of this type of pricing strategy is Walmart. As the leader of ‘everyday prices’  Walmart looks to offer the lowest prices on goods also available at other retailers such as Kmart, Amazon and Target. The biggest problem with this pricing structure is the constant need to find new customers to stimulate increasing revenue.  Why might Walmart have a problem increasing its customer base if its prices really are that low?  Ego.  Walmart is not exactly the mecca of style and taste. It reeks of cheap.  Michelle Obama may have gotten ‘caught’ shopping for dog food at Target, but she isn’t coming out of a ‘value’ driven store like Walmart.  Target has Missoni, Walmart has Hanes tube socks 5 for $10.00. There is clearly a fashion quotient distinction.

Yet, fashionable or not, value is what consumers most seek out in their purchases these days, independent of the price point.  A luxury handbag costing $5000.00 that last forever given its superior quality has more value than a $29.99 bag from T.J. Maxx that falls apart after two uses.  Customer- based pricing strategy supports this fact.  Simply put, the customer-based, psychological pricing strategy implies there is a mental price barrier that limits what a customer is willing to pay for a certain item.  Research reveals when humans deal with numbers, we place a primary focus on the first number and significantly less on the subsequent digits.  This means that a t-shirt priced at $9.99 is the equivalent to 10% less than a one for $10.00 even if the real difference is only $.01.  The vast retail implementation and success of this pricing strategy is not only limited to Cain and his pizzas.  Sixteen of the top 20 best sellers of Kindle e-books on Amazon are priced with the $.99 strategy.

The underlying principle of psychological pricing is value (the ratio of benefits received from a product or services compared to what it costs to obtain them), and with products that offer awesome, or unique benefits like the iPad, the psychological assignment of value can skyrocket and therefore the price barrier as well.  As important as value is in today’s marketplace, should it be the primary concern when ‘buying’ a candidate to be President of the United States for the next four years?  That really is what we are doing here, buying one persons’ plans, visions and programs that will directly affect our quality of our everyday lives. Perhaps a bit of comparison shopping to see what the other candidates might cost and what their benefits are  before declaring Cain’s 999 plan a magical retail formula.  If you want to learn more about Cain and his programs, tune into Piers Morgan tonight on CNN as he sits down with Herman to discuss Tuesday’s CNN GOP debate held in Las Vegas and his plans to rule the GOP and possible the USA.

On a side note, someone should run now to TJ Maxx and grab that Dolce & Gabbana leopard print dress shown above on super discount. It is soo worth it!

The Women Behind the GOP Candidates and the Fashion Brands that Should Love Them

Of all the angles reporters have taken to discuss the GOP candidates for the nomination for the 2012 presidential election, I am unaware of one that has yet to speak from the viewpoint of the leading fashion designers that stand to gain the most from the triumph of a specific candidate. You may question why anyone should care what the fashion industry thinks of the candidates, but given the incredible power and influence the current First Lady has proven to have in putting emerging designers like Jason Wu on the map (he’s penning  a ‘thank you’ letter to Michelle O. for his upcoming Target collaboration as I write this) and driving sales at popular retailers like J.Crew, the style profile of the most visible American female can have a very significant financial impact.  So, looking at the top GOP candidates thus far in the race to the primaries, let’s see which designers might be lobbying for their chance in the social and economic spotlight as the First Lady’s fashion guru:

1. Carolina Herrera -> Anita Perry

Anita and Rick Perry, 2011

Carolina Herrera, the reining queen of sophisticated and refined day and evening wear for the wealthy, ladies-who-lunch crowd, is a perfect match for Anita.  A former nurse, with an M.S. from the University of Texas, Anita is currently a full time supporter of her wealthy husband’s bid for the Republican nomination.  Between the weekly church services, supporter rallies and fundraising dinners, Anita will have ample opportunities to impress at a black tie affair in this frock from Herrera:

Carolina Herrera Fall Winter 2011

2. Oscar de la Renta -> Ann Romney

Mitt and Ann Romney, 2011

Like Perry, Mitt Romney has a boatload of moolah and his wife, a Harvard graduate, has quite refined, classic and expensive taste.  As the housewife of an experienced and successful businessman, Ann understands her role as a hostess and social connector quite well and has no problem buying the right clothes to project the correct image: conservative, classy and eternally chic.  Who better to go to than Oscar de la Renta.  Popular with the Park Avenue crowd, de la Renta is beloved for his sleeveless day dresses, lavish coats and fitted skirt suits.  Ann would make a statement in this gorgeous eggplant color sheath dress, accessorized with an amazing gemstone brooch:

Oscar de la Renta Fall Winter 2011

3. Chicos -> Carol Paul

Ron and Carol Paul

Chico’s,  a retailer catering to the everyday woman featuring a full line of private label apparel, accessories, and jewelry, with a focus on comfort, is a perfect fit for Carol, the seventy-something wife of Ron Paul.  Anne has avoided the campaign trail thus far stating that without her presence, “the house would fall apart”.  Unlike the previous two ladies, Carol is very relatable both in appearance and in her simple, yet attainable style which screams, average America.  For the same reason, White House, Black Market might want to join Chico’s in a 2-for-1 fashion fundraiser:

A look from Chico’s Fall 2011

A versatile day to evening dress by White House Black Market, Fall 2011

4. Ann Taylor -> Gloria Cain

Herman and Gloria Cain

The sixty-five year old housewife is known in inner circles to be incredibly supportive of her husband, an involved mother and also quite shy, so don’t expect her to be out front during the campaign season.  Given the little we have seen of Gloria, she appears to be a woman who prefers conservative, classic and tailored clothing with a pop of color or fashionable point of interest.  Ann Taylor, a clothing retailer catering to women ages 35-60, delivers sophisticated and high quality clothing with an affinity for tailored, conservative styling. Ding! That’s a match. Also, given the company’s choice of brand ambassadors over the past two years (among them Heidi Klum, Naomi Watts and Katie Holmes) as well as the current face, Demi Moore, the brand appears to be seeking to increase its style quotient and fashion following. Dressing the First Lady would be the ultimate ticket to exposure. Imagine the chic statement Gloria could make in one of these two looks from Ann Taylor’s Fall/Winter 2011 collection:


So, do you think we hit the nail on the head? Are there other designers who you think would be a better fit for these potential First Ladies? If so, post your comment so we can start a dialogue.  Up next is the most likely Democratic candidates for the nomination and the brands that are hot on their tales.

Saudi Women to Drive Up Luxury Car Sales?

Manal Al-Sharif, arrested for driving in protest in June, 2011, loves her Lexus

Pardon the pun, but as Saudi women continue to fight the religious edicts that prohibit them from driving, luxury automotive brands are jockeying for position to reap the benefits that ‘equality’ and the well known love of luxury brands in the Middle East country may soon appear.  While there is no specific law that prevents Saudi women from driving, their position as minorities doesn’t allow them to open bank accounts, apply for a passports or even go to school without the permission of a male family member.  However, earlier this year, a well known Saudi blogger, Eman Al Nafjan, decided to take a stand by creating Women2Drive 17th June, a program encouraging women to drive on June 17th, 2011,  in support of promoting and encouraging King Abdullah to pass legislation allowing women the right to drive (he has gone on record saying such legislation is not far away). In fact, Women2Drive 17th June has a very active Facebook page, gaining significant attention and traction from national, and international audiences:

One of those audiences is luxury car manufacturers.  After all, Saudi Arabia has no shortage of disposable income (understatement of the year) and with a new market likely to soon emerge (no woman wants to share a car with her husband after all), the demand for high end vehicles has the potential to skyrocket, similar that what has taken place in China.  With the economy growing by leaps and bounds, Chinese women are increasingly taking on jobs traditionally held by men. Along with these jobs come hefty paychecks, ones that are being taken straight to the Maserati and Ferrari dealerships.  Among Chinese ultra luxury car owners, 25 percent are women, three times that of their European female counterparts.  Global management consultant firm, Bain & Co. draws many parallels between China and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. in particular) in their shared desire for luxury goods and the sheer mass of wealth.  So much wealth, the Middle Eastern market, worth €4.1bn in 2010, is likely to grow 10-12 percent by 2013.  That is a lot of money to spend on Jaguar, Bentley, Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Come to think of it, it might be a good time to reevaluate stock positions in the automotive market, especially in the luxury and ultra-luxury sectors, wouldn’t you say?

Libya: Warzone to Luxury Retail Gold Mine

Sick of hearing about Libya every second of the day?  You wouldn’t be the only one. After watching the minute-by-minute play of the uprising in Libya and the apparent ousting of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the logical question is, what’s next?  How does a rather large country in Africa, surrounded by smaller, less significant countries capitalize on the high expectations of its people and hopes for a new, better life under a new democratic government?  The answer is that although there really isn’t a clear path to success, a major factor will be financial stability.   With the UN approving the release of the Libya’s global investment of $1.5 billion earlier today (frozen during the uprising), the country’s new government is rushing to set up  the necessary infrastructure to meet the immediate and long-over due needs of the Libyian people.

Unlike the U.S., money shouldn’t be an overwhelming issue for Libya. It’s global worth is estimated at $100 billion and even if a portion of these funds is not accessible given Gaddafi’s preference for hard to trace, offshore accounting, the country would be very well positioned if it could find a way to quickly return to producing the 1.6 million barrels of oil daily as it before the internal conflict began months ago.  Libya is sitting on the precipice of becoming an exemplary case of how revolt against the status quo can lead to a new-found security and prosperity.  This potential is even more obvious given its small population of 6.4 million, a characteristic it shares with six of the ten richest countries in the world according to a 2010 study.

Much like oil rich Middle Eastern countries including Qatar and UAE, Libya is sitting on a gold mine. If the new government is properly and ethically managed, there is a real possibility that this newly freed country could easily represent the next emerging market for luxury goods.   We can all thank Sarah Jessica Parker’s alter ego Carrie Bradshaw and her gal pals in Sex & the City 2 (still upset about never getting back those two wasted hours) for depicting just how valuable young, modern Arab women with immense disposable income are to luxury labels.   Patrick Chaloub, president of Chalhoub Group, who has retail joint ventures with Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Christian Louboutin throughout the Middle East, cites a recent retail report from CB Richard Ellis showing 85% of luxury retailers are present in Dubai, a market that is expected to grow five to eight percent in 2011, almost double that of the worldwide luxury market. Although the luxury consumers good market has had unique success in rebounding back to pre-recession revenue levels, brands will continue to search for new revenue streams and a suddenly open, stable and wealthy marketplace such as Libya might be too attractive to not pursue in search of the ‘next Dubai’.  All you need is an industry leader to make the first move.

Enter François-Henri Pinault (aka Mr. Salma Hayek), CEO of PPR,  a leader in the luxury and  lifestyle markets with a portfolio of highly recognized international brands focusing on apparel and accessories. Owning luxury brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga, YSL and Alexander McQueen, Pinault is known for aggressively searching out new opportunities and relying on innovation and change to drive growth.  Call me crazy, but Libya isn’t too far off from potentially fitting the bill.  Overthrowing a dictator, creating a new democratic government and restarting an extremely profitable economy based on oil production, may be what needs to occur in order to shift Libya from this:

to this:

Yes, I know. I won’t be winning any awards for my photoshop skills, but I think you get the picture (pun intended) of what type of transformation a new Libya could mean not only for the democratic freedom of its people, but the luxury retail landscape.

PoliStyle: Why We Should Copy Hillary Clinton’s Fashion Sense

Much has been blogged, written and commented about American’s most beloved First Ladies, and the fashion choices each has made. However, as we look back over history, some First Ladies have proven to be continually relevant in fashion, and some have receded into forgotten history as quickly as their husband’s annual presidential addresses. Here is our top list of fashion trends inspired by America’s First Ladies that are still relevant today.

#1 Betty Ford

Betty Ford’s name may be known around the world for the alcohol and drug treatment center she founded after her personal struggles with substance abuse where made public, but Betty’s love for lapel pins and brooches may have been a close second to a vodka martini.  While in the White House and for years after, she pined on her signature style.  Incidentally, the brooch is back in a BIG way this Fall, so pin one on and channel your inner Betty:

Orange shift dress with square crystal lapel pin. How now is this ensemble?!

While at sea, Betty used a vintage lapel pin to keep her scarf in place. Adore!

Black and white stripes and a gold bow lapel pin. Oh, and shoulder pads. Very 1980’s.

Want to try out the brooch trend yourself?  Designer Vera Wang featured some fabulous crystal options in her Pre-Fall collection as did Balenciaga for Fall:

Vera Wang

Balenciaga

#2: Jackie O

Where to even start. Jackie was responsible for an almost endless number of trends (Chanel tweed, classic pearls, short jackets, capri pants), but her most unique and copied fashion favorite was the matching pillbox hat:

So chic. Almost un-Americanly so.

Recipe: Triple strand of pearls, a skirt suit and matching pillbox hat

Tweed, short waisted jacket skirt suit and matching pillbox.

Is it any wonder that the costume department over at AMC’s ‘Mad Men’ is taking direct inspiration from Jackie’s wardrobe to dress Christina Hendricks and January Jones who play the executive secretary and rich housewife respectively on the show set in the 1960’s? So popular is the show’s fashion influence that Banana Republic is designing a Mad Men collection. Expect a pillbox thrown in the mix. After all, a chic accessory is the best way to update an outfit you already have.  If you want to get in on the pillbox trend now, try this great black and silver cube pillbox hat by English milliner, Bee Smith.

#3 Barbara Bush

Her husband may be forgettable (or unforgettable depending on how you look at it), but her love of the 3-strand pearl necklace is anything but.  Worn with casual and evening dress, on official functions and while out campaigning, Babs found a way to incorporate her favorite necklace:

The pearls are fabulous. The dress, not so much. It was the 80’s so all is forgiven

Pearls and Kate Middleton green.

Notice her scarf. Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger have very similar prints in their Fall Winter 2011 collections

You know you have a signature look if its on the cover of your book jacket

Not only is Barbara’s preferred color palette what you should be wearing this Fall, but when it doubt, wear pearls. They are classic, sophisticated and polished. Need more proof? Look who else wore them:

Jackie and her son, JFK Jr.

And, who is featuring the multi-strand pearl necklace in her 2011 Fall collection:

Donna Karan

4. Hillary Clinton

Surprise, we aren’t going to knock Hill for her smanish pansuits!  Rather, for her unexplicable love of the headband.  In the early 1990’s when Bill took office, Hillary wore her accessory of choice, everywhere. As the pics prove, it seems she continues to think its appropriate to wear high school hair, even to official events as the Secretary of State of the United States:

Headband and shocker, pearls! Did she steal those from her predecessor, Babs?

Hill loves her some braided headbands

The pantsuit (ugh) and a white braided headband. Oh, this is recent by the way.

She may have recycled this headband from 20 years prior

I hope she holds stock in the Braided Headband Inc. Here in matching gold.

What is old, becomes new again. Isn’t that what they say?  Well, don’t stop reading now when I say that Hillary may have actually worn the headband so long, that it is actually back into style.  Chanel Pre-Fall featured a gorgeous gold Byzantine metal headband that I for one, am dying to try out:

Chanel Pre-Fall 2011

Hillary and Chanel. Who knew?  Miu Miu also gave some head embellishment love in its 2011 Resort collection:

5. Michelle Obama

Two words, trite as they may be, are so influential on current style, a denial is pointless: cinched waist.  Michelle does not have the ideal body, but she does have an extremely keen sense of what areas of her body she can flaunt (those arms can probably crush Barack when he is bad) and chiefly among them is her small waist.  By pairing her iconic sheath dresses, cardigans and even coats with a great belt, Michelle is able to create a better proportion by elongating her body and creating a shape, rather than a straight up and down line running from her shoulders to hips (the widest points on her body):

This Givenchy belt keeps Michelle from swimming in the oversize jacket

Achieve a slimmer look by cinching  the waist with a transparent belt that creates shape without visibly disrupting the silhouette.

Belts work for evening wear! Michelle wisely chooses one in the same hue as her sweater. It adds, without distracting.

This thick black belt makes the coat over dress look really work.

You can get this look for yourself by taking inspiration from Thakoon’s Pre-Fall collection, which coincidentally, is Michelle’s preferred designer (he did her white inauguration gown):

Or, try this Rachel Roy Pre-Fall 2011 sleeveless Jersey dress with braided silk black belt:

Want to try a more casual look with a great belt? Try pairing a leather wrap belt with heavy hardware over a jumpsuit as seen here in Donna Karan’s Pre-Fall 2011 collection:

Although politics often times can lead to division, surely we can all unite in agreeing that the better half of our Commander in Chief, both past and present, are influential in setting fashion trends not only while their husbands were  in office, but in these specific cases, for generations to come (we are throwing Michelle in this group because we know “style icon” will probably be added to her personal calling card quite soon…. if it isn’t already).

Politics and Fashion: A Symbiotic Relationship

It has been said that “fashion reflects the temper of the times” in that when political stability and economic prosperity reign, frivolous fashion rules.  On the other side of the pendulum, in serious or unstable times, consumer confidence takes a hit and fashion sways towards sensible and practical.  We decided to put this theory to the test by looking back over the past six presidential administrations to study the political economic trends that defined each period and the correlated fashion trends.

1989- 1993, President H. W.Bush

Economic/Political Milestones:

If there is one word to describe the international political environment during H.W.’s tenure, it would be unity.  The Berlin Wall fell and Germans were united, the Cold War ended, USSR passed significant economic reforms and subsequently disintegrated.  The Eastern Euro bloc fell and solidarity triumphed in Poland.  Essentially, the modern political landscape was coming together, bringing along with it a sense of togetherness and hopefulness.  That was until 1991 when President Bush led the US into the Gulf War, a decision that had negative economic consequences and most likely was the reason he wasn’t elected to a second term.  If we short track the above, the first 3/4 of Bush’s term was solid and prosperous, with the effects of the war not really appearing until 1992.

Dominating Fashion Trends:

Who can forget the late eighties and early nineties.  Surely no one who also remembers what Atari is.  Sure there was the good and the bad, but if any trend was pervasive, it was the grunge movement.  Brought on by the Seattle music scene (Kurt Cobain in particular), flannel shirts, stonewashed straight cut jeans and Converse tennis shoes was a look popular with the famous, infamous and everyday high school students all around the country.  It was the opposite of the polished, power looks of the 1980’s made so popular with the Melanie Griffith film ‘Working Girl’.

Kurt Cobain, the King of Grunge

Grungy Girls

Back in the day before every celebrity had a fragrance or licensing deal, Cobain  created a capsule collection of Converse tennis shoes:

The other major fashion trend of the early 1990’s, neon color, also stemmed from the music scene.  Originating with hip- hop, this style of dressing penetrated the masses via neon color slapstick bracelets, layered slouch socks and hair scrunchies used to tie off t-shirts on the hip:

TLC

Scrunchies!

Slap Bracelets and Tying off T-shirts

Test Results: Early 1990’s fashion could not be denied to be frivolous in many ways (slap bracelets and hypercolor t-shirts) but it was also exploratory in trying out a new music scene and a new form of unisex dressing in the grunge movement.

1993- 2001 President William Jefferson Clinton

Economic/Political Milestones:

During Clinton’s presidency NAFTA took affect, the EU was formed and significant deficit reduction legislation was passed.  Simply put, national and international politics were quite stable and focused on increasing commerce and stimulating wealth creation. People were making money and with the reliable promise of more to come, they were spending it.

Dominating Fashion Trends:

With no other explanation other than money was flowing like water and therefore consumers were willing to part with their dollars (and credit) on fashion fads, without much concern for practicality, overalls became a big hit:

Lauryn Hill and the Fugees

Accessories also had their moment in the hideous halls of 1990’s fashion and the prevailing trend for both and women was the choker necklace:

Jordan Catalano in ‘My So Called Life’

Kate Winslet

In 2000, denim invaded.  Prior to this time, jeans were generally reserved for casual settings, but the new millennium ushered in the possibility of wearing jeans to more formal, even professional settings including work. This was due in part to the proliferation in the use of  high end raw denim and post production treatments (remember wiskering?) by premium denim companies such as Paper, Denim & Cloth, Seven and Paige.  As is customary, when something goes big, it tends to go to extremes:

Brit and Justin in full on denim looks

Test Results: I think it is fair to say that the mid to late 1990’s continued with the fun, experimental and frivolous fashion trends set earlier in the decade.  The formalizing of denim was a foreshadow of the fashion trends to come in the 2000’s.

2001- 2009  President George W. Bush

Economic/Political Milestones:

Calling George W. a wartime president is like calling Bill Gates ‘rich’.  Only four months after taking control of the White House, President Bush had to lead his country after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil occurred at the World Trade Center in NYC on September 11, 2001.  Shortly thereafter, he led the country into war against Iraq, one we are still fighting today.  An inevitable result was  uncertainty towards the future and a decline in global consumer confidence lead to an economic recession.  In an effort to stem the downturn, President Bush issued the largest dollar rate tax cut in world history. The end of Bush’s presidency was categorized by massive national debt and tough economic times for consumers.

Dominating Fashion Trends:

Trendwise, the 2000’s was a bit like Katy Perry; all over the place.  From pulling inspiration from blue collar workers, to the birth of leisure wear to disregarding all aesthetic value of footwear, the 2000’s brought some of the most memorable fashion fads:

Trucker Hats- it may have started with actor Ashton Kutcher, but everyone jumped on the bandwagon:

Amanda Seyfried

Justin Timberlake and Ashton Kutcher

Velour Track Suits:

Paris Hilton, Repeat Offender

Eva Longoria

Remember these? I wish I didn’t

Crocs:  No one can really explain how an extremely ugly and non functional shoe can spark such a national fanatic base, but suffice it to say, children and parents alike embraced these bright colored clogs:

Kelly Taylor, Dr. Cullen and kids, all in Crocs

Rhianna wearing updated, gray Crocs

Super-chef Mario Batali takes Crocs formal

Test Results:  Finding versatility in fashion is definitely a way to be economically conservative and between the tracksuits that take you from bed, to the sofa to the streets, and Crocs coming to the surface as the only shoe that the whole family can agree on (discount for bulk purchase of course), the 2000’s were about the masses mimicking celebrity fashion trends, independent of how attractive or flattering they were.

2009- present  President Barack Obama

Political/Economic Milestones:

Oh, where to start.  I think we can all agree that the U.S.’s prolonged presence in the Iraq War, the continued high rate of unemployment, the economic recession both here and abroad (Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Iceland and Ireland among others)  and an inability to bring consensus in Congress have been a major plague on Obama’s first term.  The discontent has lead to some interesting fashion trends:

1. Longer Hemlines:

So the theory goes that when the market is up, minis are the rage and when the market goes down, hemlines get longer.  This surely seems to have been true in Fall 2009, 2010 and continue for this Fall 2011:

2010 Look from Louis Vuitton and Celine with Hermes belt

Michelle, Kate and Minnie keep their gams covered

Calf length skirts shown at FW 2011 NY Fashion Week

2. Fur- In 2009, exotic animal pelts started to make an appearance in Fall designer collections either as a spectacular show stopping coat or as a wonderful funnel neck scarf or great hat.  Since then, the fur trend has only grown and is now everywhere and applied to any type of apparel or accessory:

Test Results: It isn’t surprising that luxurious products, including furs, see an increase in attention during tough economic times.  In fact, luxury apparel has done extremely well during the past three years, with many brands seeing double digit growth.  Wait, a bad economy and luxury good sales increase? What gives. Put simply, when the market contracts, consumers either go for high quality, expensive goods or they default to cheap, inexpensive purchases that won’t have a major affect on their bottom line.

As we move into a campaign year to determine the 45th president of the United States, it will be interesting to see how the changing political and economic landscape impacts the fashion trends that are proposed by designers, but ultimately adopted and scaled by the consumer.