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Rise of the Recessionistas

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But she confesses to spending too much time and money at pricey places such as Barneys or Bergdorf Goodman. “I used to buy way too much, way beyond what I needed or used,” she adds.

She began her own road to fashion rehabilitation with a color consultant. Once the economy began to slide, she says, she realized more than ever the need to be confident in her own fashion decisions. “I couldn’t really afford to do anything else,” she adds with a laugh.

Armed with a guide to the colors that suit her best, Ms. Ingraham says she now is ruthlessly pragmatic. “I’m in and out, I only get what I need and that’s it.”
The global fashion industry generates roughly $900 billion in sales a year, nearly half of that in the United States. As business declines – Barneys is reportedly trying to close two of its seven stores – fashion outlets from Munich to Minneapolis are scrambling to catch the jaded eye and precious cash of this increasingly fickle and independent shopper.

To create “buzz,” the three-year-old German design house Clemens en August bypasses the routine brick-and-mortar address. Instead, it runs an international, invitation-only circuit of temporary shops that set up for a long weekend at, say, an art gallery in London, sell pricey designer duds at a steep discount, then move on. At another end of the spectrum, Minnesota-based Target, which helped bring designers to discount retailers when it hired Isaac Mizrahi in 2003, regularly offers new designer fashions for limited runs, often a few weeks at a clip.

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