Where’s Women’s Fashion Going? Ashley Olsen, Isaac Mizrahi, And Robin Givhan Reveal All

Last night I showed up at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, to witness Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan and designers Isaac Mizrahi and Ashley Olsen participate in a panel discussion on the future of women’s fashion led by Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive.

With the economy stuck in a recession for more than a year now, the fashion industry has had to make some adjustments and even start new initiatives, like last month’s Fashion’s Night Out, to get people interested in spending again. So, what do these insiders think about where fashion is and where it’s going? Keep reading to hear what they had to say.Mizrahi admitted to being completely inspired by Michelle Obama, and he, Leive, and Givhan all agreed the first lady’s fashion choices reflect what other women in America are wearing, rather than setting trends the rest of us follow. For example, women had been wearing “power dresses” to work, rather than suits, before Obama started being seen in them. What the first lady has done is make fashion feel more inclusive, according to Givhan:

“She has had impact in that she set an example for a lot of women who are over the age of 30 who felt disenfranchised by the fashion industry. And I think she is perfect example to them that you can incorporate fashion into your lives, and what makes you look good doesn’t necessarily negate your IQ. And unfortunately, for a lot of people there is the idea that if you show a lot of interest in fashion, particularly in our nation’s capital, that you also can’t keep statistics in your head.”

Givhan, who offered many insightful thoughts throughout the evening, demonstrated that fashion and brains can go together, even though she thinks “people condescend to fashion because it’s a women’s industry.” Givhan compared buying a several-thousand-dollar dress to using the same amount of money on football season tickets. Not many say it’s ridiculous to spend so much on tickets, but putting that amount on clothes? “Misogyny rears its ugly head again!” Mizrahi exclaimed in agreement.

Despite debates about using thin models and ridiculous (or not) ’80s styles that are hot right now, all of the panelists are hopeful about the future and believe exciting times are ahead. The industry, it seems, had long been overdue for a makeover.