A high-profile publicity and advertising campaign aimed at encouraging American consumers to start shopping in the crucial run-up to Christmas will be launched by US fashion designers tomorrow.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, a 241-member trade group, is to launch "Fashion for America: Shop to show your support," a public-relations campaign aimed at getting consumers back into the shopping habit.

As part of the campaign, leading designers such as Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren will do in-store appearances, while the council will also sell a special T-shirt priced at $22.50 with proceeds going to September 11 relief funds.

The initiative is expected to wrap its message around patriotism - hinting that the best way for consumers to demonstrate their patriotism is to go shopping.

Last year, US retail sales of apparel and footwear totalled about $322 billion but many of those producers are now bracing themselves for a huge fall in sales as consumers' confidence continues to wane.
Top fashion companies such as Nicole Miller, Tahari and Lafayette 148 have already launched the "Proudly Made in New York" ad campaign, a new label sewn in garments for apparel makers that manufacture in New York City.

But those efforts were aimed more locally, to help rebuild New York. With the economy slipping fast and the number of layoffs increasing steadily, the promotion of shopping as a civic duty is becoming a nationwide idea.

Earlier this month at a rally, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown launched a campaign dubbed "America: Open for Business," which distributed thousands of posters featuring an American flag with shopping-bag handles.

However, not everyone is backing the new campaign. Adbusters, a controversial anti-consumerism group from Vancouver, is taking the opposite stance, as it once again promotes its ninth annual "Buy Nothing Day" to promote "consumer awareness and simple living".

Adbusters executive director Kalle Lasn said its shopping boycott this year is "now more relevant than ever as American over-consumption is part of the problem why the Islamic world hates us so much."

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