Last year, the young founders of menswear brand Five Four were cranking out $200 shirts. Then the luxury market collapsed, and partners Andres Izquieta and Dee Murthy scrambled to reinvent their company. They shifted fabric production to India, cut the thread count in their shirts and started producing cheap-but-salable goods such as socks and backpacks. The scramble to stay afloat has given them a whole new outlook. "I think the concept of luxury is passé," says Izquieta, who now wants Five Four to be a megabrand, rather than a niche player.

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