So I am reading a fantastic book, "The End of Fashion" by Teri Agins, published in 1999. It tells the story how fashion changed from something dictated by Paris designers to a corporate-run industry making primarily copycat sportswear, heavily marketed via highly identifiable brands. It's a fast read, chatty and engrossing.
She quotes Giorgio Armani:
"Fashion is finished, for me the diktat is finished," Armani declared to New York in September 1997. "That is, 'this is fashion and you must dress this way--it's finished." Fashion is what a woman makes. She puts on an Armani jacket, a skirt by Gigli. This is fashion."
Agins identifies what she calls four "megatrends" that contributed to the "end" of fashion, as she see it:
1) Women let go of fashion. (Now pursuing careers, fewer women defined themselves by their wardrobes.)
2) People stopped dressing up. (Think "casual Fridays.")
3) People's values changed with regard to fashion (i.e., They weren't embarrassed to shop for value instead of status. They wanted quality, but at an attractive price.).
4) Top designers stopped gambling on fashion. (Fashion houses, largely owned by publicly traded companies, were no longer willing to gamble on fashion whims.)
In a nutshell, while people still care about clothes, it's more about the image the brand conjures up in their mind since so many of the clothes are similar, i.e. commodities.
"Today's 'branding' of fashion has taken on a critical role in an era when there's not much in the way of new styling going on--just about every store in the mall is peddling the same styles of clothes. That's why designer logos have become so popular; logos are the easiest way for each designer to impart a distinguishing characteristic on what amounts to pretty ordinary apparel."
So where do you stand on all this, readers? Do these logos affect you in any way? Are there some brands you have a weakness for, others you find distasteful? (I've chosen these but don't limit yourself to them.)
Are any of us wholly immune to the power of the fashion brand? Not me, even though I make most of my own clothes. But I do look at magazines from time to time and even if I didn't, just walking the streets of the city the ads and logos are impossible to avoid and/or ignore.
I remember when I was about 13 or so, I had to have a Lacoste shirt because everyone (well, everyone who mattered to me) in my school at the time was wearing one. And I confess: I do own a pair of Gucci loafers (bought at a consignment store). And while I've stopped wearing cologne, I was once very fond of the exclusive Acqua di Parma.
As a sewer, are you less impressed with branded merchandise? How about fragrance? Does the name (and image) matter, or is it just the smell? (Tell the truth.) Is there a clothing brand you strongly identify with even if you don't wear it?
"The End of Fashion" was written ten years ago. Do you think anything has changed since then or has marketing and the importance of the fashion brand only intensified?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!