Consumer Nation

Fashion Industry 'Surfed the Tsunami': Von Furstenberg


Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said she expects the fashion industry "surfed the tsunami" of rough economic times, and she's very optimistic for the future.

A model walks the runway at the Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Theater at Lincoln Center.
JP Yip | WireImage | Getty Images

"At the end, if you want to sell a product you have to give a good product at the right price," von Furstenberg said in an interview with CNBC. "At the end, that is always what drives sales."

Over the weekend, the designer unveiled her Spring 2011 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, a week-long event that is expected to add $385 million to the New York City economy.

Von Furstenberg said she feels the industry is working very hard to create excitement among consumers, and cited Fashion's Night Out, a global retail event as an example of what is being done to energize consumers.

Thousands of people turned out in New York City for the event last Friday, which was timed to occur just as Fashion Week was kicking off. Von Furstenberg said the event was "a huge success."

Indeed, hundreds of people traveled through the doors of the designer's DVF store in New York's Meatpacking District on Friday evening.

Like many stores around the city, DVF was transformed for the event. A DJ was cranking up the dance tunes, bartenders worked hard handing out free champagne cocktails to the crowd, and HP outfitted one area with large touchscreen panels that allowed shoppers to pull up fashion models and view details about their outfits and accessories.

But the real excitement happened when von Furstenberg showed up wearing a Fashion's Night Out T-shirt and started dancing beside the DJ. The crowd swarmed her, with many fans jockeying to take her picture.

Catwalk Commerce

Fashion's Night Out was the brainchild of Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who felt an evening of special events at retail stores would coax consumers to start buying again. This was the second year the event was held and it more than eclipsed last year's event in almost every way—more cities, more stores and more consumers.

Fashion's Night Out is only one way the fashion industry is becoming more accessible for consumers. Fashion Week has embraced bloggers and social media, and this has allowed more people with more access to what's happening on the runway.

"New York Fashion Week has become really very dynamic," von Furstenberg said. "We as an industry...I think we're in good shape actually."

But with greater accessibility comes greater risk. One concern the fashion industry has had is countfeiters, who can quickly turn out knock-offs of the designs in the shows. As president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America von Furstenberg has worked to prevent counterfeiting.

"It is very important that we protect our intellectual property," she said. "We have really started to work very strongly to protect designs."

Von Furstenberg said, "It's not a question of price. It's not a question of elitism."

This is especially true now that many famous designers are making less expensive clothing lines for retail stores such as H&M, Macy's and Target , among others.

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