Rapaport Magazine

Trend 2009

The past year has brought enormous change, some unexpected and some expected, so what does that mean for 2009?

By Amber Michelle
RAPAPORT... There is no arguing that the radical downward shift in the U.S. economy is the number one factor influencing the trends that we will see in 2009 and beyond. Scaling back, simplifying and reprioritizing are key trends going into the new year. These three movements are borne out of the necessity of a world struggling to stay afloat in a global recession and rid itself of years’ worth of a greed-driven economy. But this belt-tightening does come with a silver lining. It brings along the message of hope, of rebirth and a continued forward motion toward a more socially responsible consciousness.

“People will continue to scale back; we could see 10 percent unemployment,” forecasts Gerald Celente, founder and director of the Trends Research Institute. “There will be a move to involuntary simplicity. In the late 1980s, after the last stock market crash, we saw a move to voluntary simplification. It was a philosophical, spiritual movement. There was a passion to do it, but with the dot.com bubble, it was all forgotten. Now there is a necessity to do it. It’s not about what you want, but what you can get. People will use what they have, they will repair things and reuse things.”

Arnold Brown, trend analyst and chairman of Weiner, Edrich, Brown, agrees that consumers will cut back; even people with means will not be as freewheeling as before. “Even those not personally feeling the pinch will cut back; they don’t want to appear ostentatious. They may spend on things people can’t see. They will spend more on an experience than on things.”
But on the upside, Brown notes that people will find ways to economize without having to compromise their lifestyle, and he advises retailers to give customers a reason to shop, a way to justify their spending. “People want retailers to give them a good reason to buy. For example, if you buy this product, it helps someone in Guatemala or it reduces greenhouse emission. It’s a way of reducing their guilt about buying. Jewelers might want to let customers know about the benefits of diamonds to the developing world, or explain the family-heirloom value of diamond jewelry.”

Color Me Recession
The colors that we see coming out this spring season will also play into the havoc wrought by the economy. Neutrals will be important, but not just the usual black, browns and grays. “The top color for this season is Palace Blue. It is a more vibrant blue in the navy family, a basic, a neutral that is a good backdrop,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, director, Pantone Color Institute, and author of the book, More Alive with Color. “Lavender is another neutral that is an offshoot of fall. It’s the spring extension of purple and Salmon Rose is a quieter tone, again more neutral.”

These colors are important because they can last beyond a season and, rather than having to buy an expensive new outfit, consumers can change the look of their wardrobes with accessories. Eiseman points out that these new neutrals blend well with other colors and work with the season’s vibrant-hued accessories for a fresh new look.

Other trends in color are shades of yellow, which speak to optimism, hope and good cheer. Greens continue to be important as a nod to nature and the environmental movement. Eiseman notes that consumers will buy neutrals when purchasing a big-ticket item.

Luxury Lasts
While even strong, upscale brands and luxury houses are feeling the constraints of the tough economic times, they will benefit over the long haul, predicts Celente. “The trend is to buy quality because it is more lasting and can be repaired. The look will be back to simple elegance, not overdone, but tasteful and expressive of who you are.”

According to Jess Neff, a stylist for TLC’s “What Not toWear” and NBC’s “TheToday Show,” an elegant, but playful, detail is making its way into fashion this spring. “The most noticeable trend for spring ’09 is the use of tiered ruffles, everything from ruffled and layered sheers to ruffled edges.”

“There seems to be a return of the waistline and that includes all types of pants to tie-waist blouses and dresses as well. I call it Polished BoHo. Flavors of late 1970s disco, 1940s-style structured jackets and details, and geometric proportions such as one-shouldered dresses are the look for spring,” says Christina Mongini, a costume designer whose credits include “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO, and who has worked on the movie “Return to Babylon” and People magazine covers. Both fashionistas note that bold cuffs and ethnic influences are key looks for jewelry this spring.

In the “RTW Collections Spring/Summer 09 Trend Overview” for Fashion Group International, authored by Marylou Luther, International Fashion Syndicate, Luther agrees that bold statement jewelry ruled the runways, especially earrings and cuffs. Luther cites earrings by Damiani for Jil Sander as a prime example of the look. In the report, she also notes that hemlines are high and sequins and sparkle continue to shine.

“Uptown will replace urban,” says Celente. “People will want to dress up and feel good. They won’t want to appear down and out.”

J. Walter Thompson’s (JWT) Diamond Promotion Service (DPS) has tapped into this new consumer philosophy of buying less, but better quality, in a new advertising campaign that reframes the diamond message and emphasizes the enduring value of a diamond jewelry gift. “It’s a big challenge from a marketing stance, to reframe a product,” comments Richard Lennox, executive vice president (EVP) global business director. “Value is not just a function of price, but of time. We need consumers to understand that diamonds are a unique store of value over time. It goes to the message that people will buy fewer, but better, things.”

Simple, elegant, basic diamond jewelry is being showcased in the ads, including solitaire earrings, Journey, three-stone diamond rings and solitaire engagement rings. These are all items that are classics that will never go out of style and will hold value over time.

“The diamond and jewelry industry is a short-term victim of the economy. It is ostentatious by nature,” says Brown. “But there seems to be a return to traditional rituals — like marriage. Consumers may buy a diamond because of its emotional and perceived value.”

Brown also notes that a new trend is developing in the celebrity endorsement arena. Instead of just a celebrity spokesperson who is hot at the box office, Brown suggests taking the celebrity connection to another level. “In a world where celebrities are advocates, if a jeweler can connect with a celebrity activist, then the endorsement will be more meaningful.”

The Diamond Information Center (DIC) at JWT has also found that consumers are more interested in owning what celebrities are wearing in their real lives rather than what they are wearing in advertisements or on the red carpet. “A celebrity must have authenticity of wearing something in real life.” says Sally Morrison, DIC director. As we approach 2009, people are seeking security in a world of insecurity, authenticity in a sea of phoniness and value in the things they have. It is a change from the conspicuous consumption of recent years, but it is not necessarily a bad thing.

“A lot of good is coming from this because people will find out what is important in their lives and who their friends are. They will be getting back to essentials and family values,” concludes Celente.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - December 2008. To subscribe click here.

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