About

As the centre of fashion is no longer dictated by one city, but is, in fact, a global panorama configured from the personalities of satellites like Milan, London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, primarily, and to a lesser extent Sao Paulo, Antwerp, Berlin and Madrid, it seems logical that the venue from which fashionable objects, silhouettes, and trends are dispersed most be portable and accessible.

Dimant, Elyssa, ‘From ‘’Paradise’’ to Cyberspace: The Revival of the Bourgeois Marketplace,’ Potvin, John, Editor, 2009, The Places and Spaces of Fashion, 1800-2007, London and New York, NY: Routledge. p: 233

Distinctions between fashion systems obscure their interrelationships and interdependence. Not only have fashion systems become internationalised, so too have discourses surrounding fashion. Thus consumer fashion simultaneously draws on discourses of exoticism, the primitive, orientalism and authenticity. While these terms reiterate distinctions between western and other fashion systems, in fact their deployment crosses such boundaries although it is geared towards specific conditions of social interchange and environments. In this process, exotic impulses merely allude to sites of difference, insecurity and transgression in each cultural milieu.

Craik, Jennifer, 1993, The Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion, London and New York, NY: Routledge. pp 41-43

One system goes; another takes its place. To assume that the fashion system born at the Court of Empress Eugénie would continue without change seems absurd, and yet this is the premise on which the myth was resurrected after World War II. The European class system is gone, the economic model is gone, and the social structure that allows the investing of authority in a few voices is also gone – but only from the Western Hemisphere. Out of Russia, China, and India, new versions of bourgeois society are emerging, basing their systems and fashions on the mythical media-model of Western society.

Aspelund, Karl, 2009, Fashioning Society: A Hundred Years of Haute Couture by Six Designers, New York, NY: Fairchild Books. p: 267

The quotations above all consider the changing structures and systems of the fashion industry and the culture out of which these derive. The conference Fashioning the City: Exploring Fashion Cultures, Structures, and Systems to be held in London in September 2012 seeks to consider, or perhaps reconsider, the changing and developing dynamics of the fashion industry in the 21st Century. The staging of this event comes at a highly significant time in the development of the fashion industry as the structures and systems of the industry as we know and recognise them today, based around a network of five ‘’Fashion Capitals’’, namely Paris, London, Milan, New York, and Tokyo, is being increasingly challenged by innovations in technology, processes of manufacturing, and a reconfiguration of what we have come to think of as ‘’Fashion Cities.’’ As Lise Skov and Marie Reigels Melchoir (2011) assert, the fashion industry today is becoming increasingly decentred and ‘’poly-centric.’’  For example, symptoms of this include images from catwalk shows which can now be broadcast live and disseminated globally, off-shore manufacturing puts into doubt the authenticity and true value of fashion products, is it still possible to trust labels such as ‘’Made in Italy’’ or ‘’Made in Britain’’?, while  cities such as Amsterdam, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Dakar, Seoul or Sydney, amongst others,  are increasingly asserting themselves as ‘’alternatives’’ to the ‘’Big Five’’ Fashion Capitals, with their own distinct fashion cultures.  This conference is a part of a much broader and ongoing research project, of which my own PhD research into what ‘’makes’’ a Fashion City is perhaps just the beginning. Investigating the cultures, structures, and systems of the fashion industry the aim of this conference and exhibition is be both a catalyst to (re)considering these cultures, structures and systems and to act as a platform to create an open, interdisciplinary forum in which such matters can be debated. The legacy of this event, to be documented through this website which will continue as an archival resource, together with accompanying publication(s), aims to inspire and to stimulate further such events and critical analysis across an inter-connected and inter-dependent, globalised, ‘’poly-centric’’ fashion industry.

Nathaniel Dafydd Beard, Conference Convenor 

South Kensington, London, January 2012

Recommended Reading:

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Aspelund, Karl, 2009, Fashioning Society: A Hundred Years of Haute Couture by Six Designers, New York, NY: Fairchild Books.

Ben Saad, Maria, Editor, 2008, Swedish Fashion: Exploring a New Identity, Stockholm: Swedish Institute. [Exhibition Catalogue]

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Blaszczyk, Regina Lee, Editor, 2008, Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture and Consumers, Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press.

Brand, Jan, and Teunissen, José, Editors, 2006, Global Fashion, Local Tradition: On the Globalisation of Fashion, Arnhem: Uitgeverij Terra Lannoo BV. [Exhibition Catalogue]

Brand, Jan, Teunissen, José and van der Zwaag, Anne, Editors, 2006, The Power of Fashion: About Design and Meaning, Arnhem: Uitgeverij Terra Lannoo BV and ArtEZ Press.

Breward, Christopher and Gilbert, David, Editors, 2006, Fashion’s World Cities, Oxford and New York, NY: Berg.

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Craik, Jennifer, 1993, The Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion, London and New York: Routledge.

Craik, Jennifer, 2009, Fashion: The Key Concepts, Oxford and New York, NY: Berg.

Currid, Elizabeth, 2007, The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art and Music Drive New York City, Princeton, NJ and Woodstock: Princeton University Press.

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Debo, Kaat, and Bruloot, Geert, Editors, 2007, 6+ Antwerp Fashion, Ghent and Amsterdam: Ludion. [Exhibition Catalogue]

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Landry, Charles, 2007 [2006], The Art of City Making, London and Sterling, VA: Earthscan.

Landry, Charles, 2008, The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators, London and Sterling, VA: Earthscan.

Lipovetsky, Gilles, Trans. Catherine Porter, 1994, The Empire of Fashion: Dressing Modern Democracy, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Loschek, Ingrid, Trans. Dr. Lucinda Rennison, 2009, When Clothes Become Fashion: Design and Innovation Systems, Oxford and New York, NY: Berg.

Malossi, Giannino, 1998, The Style Engine: Spectacle, Identity, Design and Business: How the Fashion Industry Uses Style to Create Wealth, New York: The Monacelli Press, Inc. and Florence: Pitti Immagine SRL.

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Maynard, Margaret, 2004, Dress and Globalisation, Manchester and New York, NY: Manchester University Press.

McRobbie, Angela, 1998, British Fashion Design: Rag Trade or Image Industry?, London and New York, NY: Routledge.

Meadows, Toby, 2009, How to Set Up and Run a Fashion Label, London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

Morgan, Tony, 2008, Visual Merchandising: Window and in-store displays for retail, London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

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Potvin, John, Editor, 2009, The Places and Spaces of Fashion, 1800-2007, London and New York, NY: Routledge.

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Skov, Lise, and Riegels Melchior, Marie, Editors, 2011, Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress Body, and Culture, Volume 15, Issue 2, Oxford and New York, NY: Berg.

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Vinken, Barbara, Trans. Mark Hewson, 2005, Fashion Zeitgeist: Trends and Cycles in the Fashion System, Oxford and New York, NY: Berg.

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Zukin, Sharon, 1995, The Cultures of Cities, Malden, MA, Oxford, and Carlton: Blackwell Publishing.

Zukin, Sharon, 2011, Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, Oxford and New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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