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Fashion News from the Wall Street Journal  09/08/04

Suit Yourself
As Consumers Mix and Match, Fashion Industry Starts to Fray Designers and Retailers Work To Serve Shoppers Seeking Their Own
 Individual Style
Tweed Jackets With Sequins
By Teri Agins

Susannah Brunings and her friends used to dress in Gucci and Prada from head to toe. But now, the 31-year-old computer-software marketer from Mission Viejo, Calif., is more likely to be found in unexpected combinations, such as the $350 embroidered-silk Indian sari, $155 Seven jeans and orange stiletto sandals she was wearing one recent day. "I have created my own style, not what the magazines are telling me to wear," she says.

The idiosyncratic Ms. Brunings and many women like her are beginning to transform the $150 billion fashion industry, which has long relied on its ability to dictate seasonal trends that would be translated into clothes and sold in vast quantities. Today, the industry’s authority has been shattered as consumers take their cues from a proliferating new array of influences.


Widely available images from the New York, Paris and Milan runway shows, as well as red-carpet events like the Oscars, have made fashion’s raw data accessible to all. Other sources include celebrities, such as actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who have adopted a pick-and-mix attitude to dressing, shopping magazines such as Condé Nast Publication Inc.’s Lucky and TV shows including "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

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