- The Fashion industry today
- Fashion, as an industry, has come a long way since the early days when Parisian designers dictated fashion. Fashion design and manufacturing is now a multibillion-dollar global industry. While Paris was once the home of fashion—as evidenced by designers from other countries migrating there to show their collections, including Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian), Mainbocher (American), Kansai Yamamoto (Japan), and Katherine Hamnett (British)—today's designers not only come from many other countries, but they also regularly choose places other than Paris to introduce their lines. Whether they show in New York, Los Angeles, London, Milan, Rome, or in their home countries, today's designers embody the global fashion industry.BelgiumDuring the 1980s, designers from Antwerp achieved global recognition with the innovative collections of Dries Van Noten, Ann Dem-uelemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs, Walter van Beirendonck, Dirk van Saene, and Marina Yee. It was at the 1988 British Designer Show in London that these six trendsetting designers became known as the "Antwerp Six." A major force in the Belgium fashion scene was its fashion schools, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Antwerp Academy.BritainFor centuries, British royalty dictated fashion. Credited as early as 1533, Ann Boleyn conceived of "lingerie." However, traditional fashion direction in Great Britain originated with the French and the Italians; after World War II, the American designers influenced British fashion. Norman Hartnell, the British designer responsible for projecting the fashion image of British royalty for three generations, including Queen Elizabeth's reign, did not deviate from conservative form. Not until the 1960s did fashion really explode in Britain. Young designers, the most noteworthy being Mary Quant, reinvented fashion by drawing on inspiration from the streets of London. Thanks to Quant, Kings Road and Carnaby Street became destination magnets for many young and hip fashion gurus.Twiggy, the sixteen-year-old British "waif," became the most sought after model of the decade and revolutionized the "new look of fashion." The hippie look of the early 1970s had morphed into a punk antifashion look. Designer Vivienne Westwood was known for the decade's most outrageous and bestselling fashion statements. She created clothes out of safety pins, creating many fetish and vinyl bondage designs. Inhibition was out, freedom of expression was in, and London fashion provided the venue for these new freedoms. British design eccentricity continued with designer John Galliano and culminated with designer Alexander McQueen, who was credited with understanding the marketing value of "shock tactics" in design. More recently, British fashion— while retaining its signature style—has softened its edge, as exhibited by the designs of Stella McCartney.FranceAlthough Paris held the lead in fashion for more than 100 years, the fashion industry has expanded tremendously since the founding of Charles Frederick Worth's couture house in 1846. Were it not for the early French designers and their passion for fashion, the rest of the world would be at a loss today. French design houses not only set the standards for the industry but designers such as Christian Dior, who created a fashion frenzy with his "New Look," also started another trend whereby designers on both continents competed with each other to come up the next "big idea." Today, France is home to both ready-to-wear and haute couture. Fashion houses such as Chanel and Gucci are now owned by major fashion conglomerates such as Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton (LVMH) and Pinault-Printemps Redoute (PPR).JapanThe rebuilding of Japan after World War II, together with its technological explosion, set the stage for a new, reflective sense of design. The country as a whole became confident in its ability to preserve its rich heritage and simultaneously established itself as a source of cutting-edge ideas. Apparel design proved to be a perfect arena to showcase such success. Hanae Mori was Japan's first internationally recognized designer and was the first Asian to be admitted to the Chambre Syndicale. Although the least radical in terms of design expression, Hanae Mori set the stage for Rei Kawakubo, Junko Koshino, Issey Miyake, Junko Shimada, and Kenzo Takada, establishing Japan as a player in the world of global fashion. The designers accomplished this through their "ability to meld traditional Japanese art forms with 1960s American pop culture." Additionally, at a time when the West was concentrating on tightening and exposing the body, these designers set themselves apart—not only through their approach to changing the body through abbreviation but also most recognizably through the pioneering of the "deconstruction era" in the design world of the 1980s. While each of these designers maintains distinctive design personalities, all possess an innate sense of artistic expression that is collective. Whether it is through the juxtaposition of the coolness of synthetic materials with the warmth of unconventional natural materials, the pureness of geometric form, or the art of distressing to evoke feminism and softness, Japan has added a dimension to the world of fashion that compares to no other.ItalyItaly's prominence in the world of fashion dates back as early as the fourteenth century in Florence. Italian fabrics were in high demand especially among European nobility. Prior to World War II, designers such as Mariano Fortuny, Ermenegildo Zegna, Guccio Gucci, Salva-tore Ferragamo, Elsa Schiaparelli (although based in Paris), and the Fontana Sisters created exquisitely tailored clothing and accessories. However, it was not until the 1950s, when the Italian government made a concerted effort to push Italian fashion, that Italian designers achieved their own identity, the Italian Look, drawing on their expert tailoring, craftsmanship, and high-quality materials. Emilio Pucci opened his house in 1948, Roberto Capucci in 1950, and Valentino in 1960. During the 1970s, Milan became the fashion center of Italy with labels such as Missoni, Krizia, Gianni Versace, and Giorgio Armani. In the 1980s and 1990s, other Italian designers—such as Romeo Gigli, Franco Moschino, Gianfranco Ferre, Laura Biagotti, Dolce & Gabbana, Miuccia Prada, and a reinvented Gucci—characterized the decades. The Italian fashion industry is also unique in that families and not corporations own and operate many of the major houses. Even today, Italian fabrics and luxury leather goods are the most sought after and the most copied.United StatesDespite the impediments of World War II, a unique American style was born out of both necessity and patriotism. American women, who traditionally were thought of as more independent and physically active than their European counterparts, embraced the freedom of American sportswear. With a keen understanding of the positive aspects of manufacturing, American designers like Claire McCardell and Bonnie Cashin set the stage for fashion in the guise of today's ready-to-wear. In the 1960s, while Britain had Mary Quant, the United States had Rudi Gernreich. Innovative and with a keen feel for "shock value," Gern-reich has been generally credited with the "no-bra bra," which allowed breasts to maintain their natural shape, a philosophy in sharp contrast to earlier generations' attitudes about the role of foundation garments. The 1970s gave birth to Halston, a designer who was all-American through and through yet who offered a new level of sophistication—and he could not help but get noticed. Halston loved the media. He received significant attention both for his clothing and his client list. Numerous scandals surrounded his personal life. He was one of the earliest celebrity designers. American fashion icons Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren pioneered the true "business of fashion" in creating lifestyle marketing and global branding of their collections and products. The marrying of American marketing with the traditional fashion world of Europe created a global fashion business that successfully melded the American and European design worlds.
Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle.