Designers must cut their prices, Hamnett says

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The Independent Online
FASHION designers must cut the costs of their clothes if they are to survive, Katharine Hamnett said in Milan yesterday. Ms Hamnett, who sold pounds 30m worth of clothes last year, was showing her spring 1994 menswear collection.

She said: 'Clothes have to become less expensive. There are too many people taking a slice of the action. The price of a garment has gone up four times when it reaches the consumer.'

Ms Hamnett has a reputation for speaking her mind. At a Downing Street reception, she exchanged fierce words with Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister. Now she is criticising fellow designers. Weak consumer demand is a long-term problem for the industry: established fashion houses will fall away, she said, and new names must rethink their strategies.

A Katharine Hamnett white T-shirt on sale in London this season costs pounds 25. But last month, she changed her Italian manufacturer. A new deal with Stile Moda, owned by Massimo Nouhi, will cut up to 30 per cent off prices.

Ms Hamnett revealed her new men's collection in the intimate surroundings of a Milanese townhouse. She is also considering moving her women's fashion presentations to Milan because Paris is becoming overcrowded with shows. Away from the avant-garde of Paris, she can be appreciated for what she is: a designer of top-notch commercial casualwear.

She reintroduced some of the styles with which she first made her name, including cotton trackpants and drill suits. She also revived army trousers with lots of pockets, and produced a faded army-camouflage print, which was soft rather than hard. One-button, wide-lapel linen jackets looked relaxed with loose linen shirts and Adidas trainers. Trousers were wide, not flared.

Ms Hamnett said: 'Clothes must be durable, functional and well-made, so that they last a long time.'

(Photograph omitted)