Original designers who truly influence culture will survive the recession as their collections are bought and remembered not only for their quality and style but because they will be copied/knocked off and found in the Forever 21s and Targets of the world.
So what styles will survive? While some people will be innovative and put creativity to the test by working with what they have, most people will conform to a more classic or traditional (not always the same) look, choosing staple items that have style longevity. Those with flare and few extra bucks to spare are opting for new accessories rather than full ensembles to stand out. I expect subtler choices rather than blaring design differences when expressing individual style.
Niche designers who cater to specific consumer needs will also maintain some regularity as their customers do not have alternatives to choose from. I've noticed at my own store, Jimmy Au's for Men 5 '8" and Under that though we have experienced a drop in sales, customers are still buying. As I noted earlier however, shoppers are going for staple items like blue and black slacks or shirts as opposed to brown or gray or leather jackets.
On the other hand, some of the affluent who always pride themselves on being a part of fashion's elite will express themselves as loudly as possible as to say "I wasn't affected" or "I knew how to take advantage of the situation".
The affluent and celebrity persuasion are having even more designer wear thrown their way in hopes of influencing consumers who are engulfed in celebrity news to buy styles caught on Hollywood's elite and posted everywhere in the media.
It's well known that the media and celebrity play a mega role in influencing consumer buying trends. But it's clear to me that the recession will persist and minimize the influence celebs have on style on the street. At this time when people are feeling the economic pressure of a downward economy so badly, luxuries -- like hi-end fashion -- are being perceived as frivolous and a bit shaming.
The recession is adversely affecting the entire fashion food chain. It's survival of the fittest. What survives after the recession will create a new fashion landscape and altered food chain. Old media and new media may be reaching a tipping point; fashion marketing is not far behind.