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Fashionistas are a hardy bunch.

Not easily deterred by a little thing like a recession, local style mavens turned out in droves last week to snag some unique designer goods at Summer Daze, a designers’ market, held at Astoria’s Brick Café from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Although many attendees copped to being a bit more restrained in their spending these days, many embraced a spirit of cautious optimism when it came to parting with their hard-earned dough. The event, which featured 13 up-and-coming designers, 11 of whom are Queens-based, was organized by Astoria merchants Kristie Foster of KrisTees and Cynthia Puhalovic of Candy Plum, and co-sponsored by Brick Café and The Q-Note, a Queens-focused e-newsletter.

Astorian Katherine Pavic, 32, head of operations for an engineering firm, learned about the June 23 event through her sister, a jewelry designer who sells her merch at Candy Plum. She was on the prowl for jewelry at the stylish soiree, where local merchants sold everything from original paintings and jewelry to fabric handbags and screen printed T-shirts proclaiming their love for the ’hood with sayings such as “I Heart Astoria,” and “I Love Ditmars.”

Pavic said that she has not been affected by the economy.

“I make good money, and I get whatever I want,” she said.

Astoria newcomer Angie Sheckler, 39, who works in retail sales and moved to the neighborhood in December, said that her spending habits have been affected by the ongoing recession, but, “not to the degree that I won’t buy anything,” she said. “You only live once.”

For Astoria resident and registered nurse Jennifer Hussain, 26, the main appeal of the event was seeing the local vendors join forces to showcase their one-of-a-kind works. Hussain, who was mainly interested in buying jewelry, said that she now thinks twice before buying something.

“Before, if it was cute, I would just buy it,” she said. “Now I have to curb.”

In the current economic landscape, event co-organizer Foster said that clients are moving away from basics and have redefined the word “value” when making a purchase.

“Value for the consumer today means wanting a piece that they feel is special, very different from what they already have, and well worth the price,” she said. “For each event, we make sure the designers that are represented meet this criteria, and since the designers we feature are smaller and newer, they naturally bring this atmosphere.”

By participating in Summer Daze, Flushing handbag designer Lesia Griffin hoped to gain more exposure and expand her customer base. The designer, who participated in a similar event organized by Foster and Puhalovic held at Brick Café in March, has slowed production to keep pace with a chillier retail climate, producing only the most popular and best-selling items in her line.

“I think, with everyone, it’s slower,” she said. “There’s not a lot of splurge shopping. People really think before buying.”

Astoria painter and free-lance graphic designer Mieko Anekawa’s paintings adorned the exposed brick walls of the appropriately named Brick Café, and will continue to be on display following the event.In addition to being the featured artist of Summer Daze, Anekawa’s designs were used in the event’s promotional materials and screen printed on the free tote bags given to advance registrants.

Anekawa is a local artist whose star is on the rise, thanks to shows at now-defunct coffee shop Freeze Peach and Fatty’s Café, both in Astoria. She was featured in TimesLedger Newspapers in January. Her works, which range in price from $100 for an 8-by-8-inch painting to $1,000 for a 30-by-40-inch canvas, still are sought after, despite a softer economy, according to her manager Ken Vitale.

“People in Astoria are very into art and culture, and we haven’t seen a drop-off,” he said.

Updated 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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