Fashion in the Present

You know what the latest fashion is? This is not about the highly dramatized fashion launches that happen in fashion capitals like New York, Tokyo or Milan. Those are for the high and mighty. The latest fashion discussed here is the trend and style that has become recently popular in your community. As the world shrinks faster, the styles and trends catch on globally even faster. Fashionable styles and trends set in for two reasons. For the attractiveness and comfort the new trend or style provides. Trend usually evolves through use and adoption and style through mass media. Someone thinks of a fresh way to design and wear a dress with new adornments or styles and if it is eye catching and comfortable to wear, the general public emulates it.

Fashionable wear has evolved from human being’s compulsive need to be different. Uniforms can be termed as the precursor to fashion trends. Uniforms were used to convey affiliation to a collective or an ideology. Basically, advertising the person’s belief or affiliation. From there it spread on to different classes of humanity, different occupations and different age groups. Freedom of expression accentuated the yearning for recognition. Mannerisms and dressing is the nonverbal way of expressing yourself. People think of new ways to express themselves and create new styles. When a new way of dressing appeals to mass public, trends form. Herd instinct kicks in and public emulate the new ways of dressing.

Fashion was considered the domain of the leisure class. Those groups of people who do not have to sweat earning their daily bread or rather who does not sweat at all: The ‘silver spoon’ class. To amuse themselves and to show the world what they are, they used to indulge in finding new ways to drape themselves and hear the ‘ooh!s’ and ‘aahs!’ from common people. Fashion was a statement of decadence. The nineteenth century US economist Thorstein Veblen even goes as far as to state that the clothes should not only be expensive but should make it apparent to the casual observer that the wearer engages in no productive activity. Take that for a fashion statement, father of conspicuous consumption! Gradually the scene changed with the nouveau riche taking part in cultural activities. As this class had earned their wealth and not inherited their fortunes, their fashion had a practical side to it. Conceivably they were the trend setters for fashion to fuse with practicality.

Those are old stories. As any other event in human history, fashion evolved and changed faces many a times. The renaissance and industrial revolution enhanced the disposable income of the so called common man. Conspicuous consumption was no more the exclusive domain of the rich. The common man had the time and money to indulge. And the advent of visual media sped up the spread of trends and styles. People wanted to look better and feel better. With money to spend it was not too difficult. Businessmen with the right sense and timing took advantage of the situation and brought the fashion to common mass through mass production techniques. The result is what we see today. Designer fashion wear available for mass consumption.

Being fashionable is good and fashion is a statement of personality. It projects your personality and tastes. Though some trends may catch on for the wrong reasons, all trends are for the common good.

What a Summer in Milan Can Do for a Fashion Designer

Milan, Capital of Fashion

Milan is the fashion capital of the world. This is the place where it all happens because the city revolves around fashion and great design. In Milan, the biggest offense you can commit is having an imitation purse. This is the reason why people who want to learn about fashion often dream about attending a fashion school in Milan, but the idea of living in Italy for years can be intimidating–not to mention expensive. That is why designers should consider an intensive, summer program instead.

So what can an up and coming fashion designer hope to gain from summer school in Milan?

1) Experience – Being in the center of the fashion capital means that you have the chance to see your education in action. You have a chance to see just how fashion works in the real world. Experience is something that you truly need when you want to be the best at something. Attending a design school in Milan is the fashion equivalent of a soldier going through boot camp in Afghanistan.

This experience will look great on a resume and help a young designer get in the door of the real decision makers back in the States because experience is the best teacher. Here is a little secret about resumes–executives rarely read them word for word. Basically, if a company is hiring, the boss will skim through a stack of resumes looking for any interesting detail that sets a person apart. Having the name of a fashion school in Milan on a designer’s resume, combined with some great looks and styles in their portfolio, might be the winning combination to landing that dream job. Rubbing elbows with the fashion elite in Milan will inspire new design ideas while toughening a designer up to be able to handle rejection and harsh criticism.

2) Competition – Since Milan is the fashion capital, it is only natural that people all over the place are competing with each other for the top spot. This will help the new designer become more competitive when they are launching their new line and establishing their presence in the business. Stiff competition is the best thing that can help the development of new talent in fashion design. By going to a summer fashion school in Milan, designers will be putting themselves through a trial by fire.

3) Discipline – Because of the high expectations of fashion schools in Milan, a new designer will learn how to be disciplined and get things done on tight deadlines. Fashion, although it involves creativity, requires a lot of discipline and downright hard work in order to be successful.

4) Opportunity – When attending a fashion school in Milan, there will be all kinds of contacts and opportunities available. Attending a fashion summer program in Milan means having the opportunity to scout the industry for niches while still having the freedom of being a student. Because of this, a designer who stands out in Milan, will be on the fast track to finding a job within the fashion industry. Establish connections and get to know the big players. Also, don’t attend a program unless it will also be able to supply some contacts in order to help a new designer get started in a career in fashion.

Is Milan Still One of the Fashion Capitals?

A few days ago Men’s Fashion Week in Milan ended and in less than a month Women’s Fashion Week will begin. The city will turn into chaos, the bloggers will occupy the streets and nervous journalist and editors will run hysterically from one show to another.

This makes me wonder: is all this hype justified? Can Milan still think of itself as one of the main fashion capitals along with Paris, London and New York or is it slowly losing the battle against some rising fashion metropolis like Madrid, Berlin and São Paulo?

There is no doubt that when it comes to the commercial aspect Milan is the winner. What you see on Milan’s catwalks is what sells all over the world and there will always be big brands like Gucci, Armani, D&G, Prada that will attract international buyers and press. But what matters for the future of any fashion industry is the young and upcoming talent. And that is exactly what is missing in Milan, or rather it is not featured enough as in other fashion weeks around the world. When I think about it, I can’t really come up with any Italian designer that has emerged in last ten years and has created an internationally known and successful brand. Maybe DSquared2, but they are originally from Canada, based in Italy, but not really representatives of Italian taste and style.

So what is missing? There are countless fashion schools all over Italy, there is even a solid platform for the manufacturing process… Maybe Italian fashion community doesn’t do enough to support and guide young designer so they just end up working as assistant designers for some major brand never getting the real recognition for their work. Sure there are events like “Who is on Next?” but still after all these years not one young designer has managed to surpass the borders of Italy and make it big worldwide. And young designer always have their shows on the last day of the fashion week, after all major brands have already finished their shows, and all the press and buyers have left for Paris wich is the next fashion week in the calendar.

So how can we explain the phenomenon of two extraordinary talented Italian designers like Riccardo Tisci who has resurrected the french maison Givenchy; and Giambattista Valli who is equally successful both in prêt-à-porter and haute couture. And somehow they are both based in Paris and are fully embraced by the French fashion industry.

Maybe what is happening to Milan is what used to be the problem of London till recently. It just didn’t have the support system. But one of the biggest British brands Burberry has eventually returned to the London Fashion Week. I don’t see Italian brands like Valentino ever coming back from Paris to Milan.

And lastly, maybe it is to consider also the fact that fashion lives where creativity and young energy burst. In a city that can simply be described with the color grey, where walking down the streets there are significantly more old than young people, and where anxiety and bitterness is the common state of mind, even the fashion has given up. It has moved to a better, warmer and more prosperous place. I bet it is having a fabulous time somewhere in the streets of Rio.