Young designers are facing especially tough times, as stores cut back on existing collections and are less willing to experiment with new ones.
A plethora of young-designer labels is already vying for attention from retailers, journalists and investors.
With an eye toward promoting themselves, some New York designers in business from one to five years have formed their own organization, the Next Generation.
The name may sound a bit like a 1970's pop group, but the organization reflects serious concerns, including what it perceives as elitism on Seventh Avenue and nervousness among retail buyers.
"One of the biggest problems in retail now is stores buying narrow and deep," said Jamie Herzlinger, a designer who led efforts to organize the group, referring to retailers' buying a lot of merchandise from just a few fashion companies.
The group has held informal cocktail parties and plans an introductory party on Jan. 22 at the Limelight disco.
Among the 30 designers who have paid $250 for six-month memberships are Pamela Dennis, Betsy Gonzalez, Gerard Yosca, Emo Pandelli, Jeanette Kastenberg and James Purcell.
But one designer who helped organize the group, Randolph Duke, said that he had decided not to participate. Duke said that although he supported the group, he felt he was already better established than many of its members.
Herzlinger said the goals would be to generate camaraderie and make the members better known. "In this market you need to make a fuss and have fun," she said.