Hard times in the designer world

The lows of high fashion

The lows of high fashion

News-Gucci Fall 2009
Courtesy of Gucci

As fashion week kicks off in New York, there's a lot of concern about the future of high fashion.

"Designer fashion — the creative wellspring of the American apparel industry, the engine of style magazines, the stuff of plain old dreams — is experiencing a serious case of the blues," Cathy Horn writes in the New York Times.

Shoppers are afraid to spend -- and it shows. Sales at Neiman Marcus dropped 23 percent from a year ago; Saks is down 16 percent. Makers of high-end fashion have dropped their prices but they worry that compromises in fit and fabric diminish the label's prestige factor.

In Houston, though, shoppers seem poised to spend. They recently jammed Neiman Marcus for a "Fashion Night Out" event featuring cocktails, hors 'd ouevres and presentations of fall trends. And Simon Properties, owner of The Galleria, expects big crowds for its Simon Fashion Now runway show on Sept. 17.