In more bullish economic times, fashion — like investment banking — was an industry for those who appreciated life’s finer things. Like Town Cars, extra elbow room in business or first class, getting to fly anywhere at all, and, once you got there, taking a Town Car to the five-star hotel that offers Ladurée macaroons and Veuve Clicquot on arrival, even if you’re in Asia. Investment bankers have had to cut back on these luxuries, and now they can take solace in knowing they won’t rough it alone. The fashion industry will join them, reducing costs by eliminating things like Town Cars, first-class air travel, and expensive hotels in “luxe foreign lands,” according to WWD. Fashion companies made the “easy cuts first,” like the company Christmas party, but nothing else was so easy to relinquish.
[T]he poor economy is forcing fashion companies to take a long, hard look at the way they do business. In an industry that once thought nothing of sending dozens of people to Europe or Asia via business-class travel to stay at five-star hotels for weeks is eliminating nonessential trips, asking employees to go coach and, if possible, videoconferencing instead of getting on a plane at all.
Sure, they looked long and hard, but did they look long and hard enough? We are horrified. The scene is especially dismal at Liz Claiborne, which has taken a beating in this economic climate:
[S]ince midsummer, Claiborne has imposed restrictions on flights and hotels, such as coach class travel on all domestic, intra-European and intra-Asian flights and stays only in corporately approved hotels.
Things are even more dour at Nicole Miller:
Using town cars has been eliminated, and his 86 staffers are being encouraged to take the subway more frequently or taxis if need be. In regard to out-of-town travel, employees are encouraged to find cheaper flights and less expensive accommodations, said [president and CEO Bud] Konheim, adding, “We’re Red Roofing it,” referring to the low-budget hotels.
The Red Roof Inn and the soles on a pair of Christian Louboutins might both be red, but they most certainly do not mix. Honestly, they may as well (gasp) camp. Over at Lacoste, the holiday party has been disgustingly consolidated with the January sales meeting. The company’s CEO told WWD, “It’s not that [canceling the party] saves such a significant amount of money, but it’s symbolic and sends the right message in difficult times.” Oh woe are those employees. They can’t even drink it off.