RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Another boost for retailers could come in spring. At least that's what store buyers attending New York Fashion Week are hoping. Along with fashion editors and stylists, they've been gathering under big white tents in Bryant Park to preview styles for next spring. Retail buyers make decisions affecting what ends up in stores and possibly on you. Editors, of course, make decisions on what ends up in the magazines.
And one of those editors is Sally Singer of Vogue. She joined us at our New York studio and I asked her what she's seeing this week.
Ms. SALLY SINGER (Vogue Magazine): Designers are trying to figure out what will motivate their customers and new customers to shop, and it's a very tricky question, you know, and it can be answered any number of ways. You have the designers who are playing to their core strengths and are doing essentially basics but retooled for the runway.
These are reassuring clothes. They look like real clothes. And then there are the people who are deciding let's do something fabulous, let's have a shock of the new, which will force people to go into the store to have just a little bit of that magic in their closet.
MONTAGNE: Give us an example of the sort of designs that are maybe the opposite of this. Are there changes in the way designers are using, say, fabrics, that sort of thing…
Ms. SINGER: Sure.
MONTAGNE: …in order to accommodate people who are nervous about spending too much?
Ms. SINGER: Well, I've been interested to see how many sort of humble fabrics are turning up in collections - cheesecloth and linens and cottons and less fancy fabrics, and I know that - and T-shirt jersey - everywhere, every collection's has got something in a T-shirt jersey. And you know that these are clothes that do not cost as much to make and will not cost as much in the store.
Now, again, these are spring-summer collections and it's absolutely true that in spring-summer collections you do see cotton, and you know, less expensive fabrics. It's not winter where, you know, things get all fluffy and fancy. But nonetheless, I think this is an attempt on the part of designers to get real about prices.
MONTAGNE: I'm just a little stuck on cheesecloth. That almost sounds like a parody almost.
Ms. SINGER: Well, it has a kind of porousness about it and it has a kind of -it has a crunchy texture when it's used in certain ways.
MONTAGNE: So it's not like sackcloth. It's like - cheesecloth really kind of has uses.
Ms. SINGER: It has its uses, and it used to be used, actually, in a lot of Hollywood costuming and things, and I think they found a great stash of it.
MONTAGNE: Who normally goes to Fashion Week? I'm just wondering if that's changed at all.
Ms. SINGER: I wish it would change a bit. Fashion Week used to be attended by the industry, which means the people who have to write about the clothes and the people who have to sell the clothes, the retailers. What happened as fashion became more part of the general media culture is everyone wanted to be at Fashion Week. So you had this sort of explosion of celebrity attendees and celebrity wannabe hangers-on, as well as kind of fantastically well-heeled clients. And I think it's transformed the shows into these kind of at times vibrant media circuses and at times just plain annoying media circuses.
What we've seen is a slight contraction there, and I don't know if that's because in this economy it's expensive and ill-advised for designers to mount the kind of scale of shows that they used to do, or whether they've realized it doesn't get them that much.
MONTAGNE: Well, looking ahead to spring and then what you've seen so far on the runways, what are you liking?
Ms. SINGER: I think what I've liked in New York so far is a mix of the utility that New York does well - great jackets, lots and lots of great little trench coats and pea coats. I also love that some of the designers are not showing everything on skyscraper heels. The girls are not fighting to get down the runway, girls being models, because that's the way we describe it, although they're all women.
And I also see on my colleagues who are going to the shows, more people wearing lower shoes, shoes they can walk in, ways to move efficiently through the city, hopefully on a bike, possibly on public transportation, but hopefully in new ways. I'm always looking to see where our lifestyles are going and how fashion is going to go there first and get us there.
MONTAGNE: Sally Singer is an editor at Vogue magazine. Thank you very much for joining us.
Ms. SINGER: Thank you.
MONTAGNE: And you can see where fashion is headed, at least during Fashion Week, on our Web site, npr.org.
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