A solid, hard-hitting, and uncompromising journalistic look at the fashion industry.
The time when "fashion" was defined by French designers whose clothes could be afforded only by elite has ended. Now designers take their cues from mainstream consumers and creativity is channeled more into mass-marketing clothes than into designing them. Indeed, one need look no further than the Gap to see proof of this. In The End of Fashion, Wall Street Journal, reporter Teri Agins astutely explores this seminal change, laying bare all aspects of the fashion industry from manufacturing, retailing, anmd licensing to image making and financing. Here as well are fascinating insider vignettes that show Donna Karan fighting with financiers,the rivalry between Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and the commitment to haute conture that sent Isaac Mizrahi's business spiraling.
Dispensing with the idea that fashion designers are unpredictable geniuses sequestered in creative isolation from vulgar commerce, Agins, who covers the fashion industry for the Wall Street Journal, has taken a long, hard look at style in the '90s and come back with a compelling report on why big business has forever altered what we wear. In seven superbly researched essays, she explains that the designers are currently being challenged to sell essentially the same clothes to a public with increasingly homogenized tastes. "Today's `branding' of fashion," she writes, "has taken on a critical role just about every store in the mall is peddling the same style of clothes." Brands, in this context, are the designers themselves--a woman doesn't go shopping for a particular style of dress, but for a "Calvin" or a "Ralph"--a lifestyle distillation that denotes professional and severe urban minimalism (Calvin Klein) or athletic, American conservatism (Ralph Lauren). The casualties of this trend are the craftsmanlike members of the Old School, as Agins ably demonstrates in essays on fading Parisian haute couture. Liveliest by far is Agins's chronicle of the rivalry between Lauren and the upstart Tommy Hilfiger, who sells clothes nearly identical to Lauren's, but with a hipper edge, captivating black city kids. The influence of Armani on Tinseltown and Donna Karan on Wall Street are also analyzed with verve and clear-sightedness. As glossy fashion magazines increasingly offer fantasies illustrated by advertisements far more often than they deliver journalism, Agins's penetrating dispatch from the rag trade is especially welcome. Photos.
As a fashion design student, this book was amazing! Every designer has a story, and these were some amazing ones!