The Hemline Effect


FASHION - Spring-summer 2009 collections – the current season in the always mad, seasonally dyslexic world of fashion – are showing short skirts and dresses that scarcely cover the important bits. The mini skirt is the message.

Traditionally there's been the belief in the "hemline effect", which is reputed to be an economic indicator created by U.S. economist George Taylor in the 1920s, suggesting that when hemlines go up, the economy is likely to improve. Meanwhile the United States one of the worst economic climates since September 11th, and its in a credit crisis.

But will women spend their hard-earned money on mini-skirts just because the fashion designers think the economy will improve? Or is this just fashion designers trying to cash in on the philosophy of showing lots of leg?

Designer and bespoke dressmaker Rosemarie Umetsu of R.U. boutique in Toronto agrees that there is always a market for short-short-short.

"I always have short in my collections and, for spring, it is the really big news. Knee-grazing or thigh-grazing, the skirt is the focus for next season."

For her, it's the shape that takes short from Bada-Bing to boardroom.

"Next season, the shape is strong without being girlie," says Umetsu, and it may be true. As she sees it, the new mini isn't tight and tarty, it is either a sort of shortened '50s or '60s wide or in such wonderful fabrics and treatments that less is more.

Still, if we are in a recession time, then short and sweet is a good sign right?

Not so, because this is a classic conservative look at short skirts... so its more about being conservative and yet trying to be optimistic. Wow. The psychology of fashion is kind of deep when you think about it.

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