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Fashion Design: Research Methodologies for Fashion Design

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Parent item expand the sub menu, fashion institute of technology’s thesis collections: inside the class of 2021’s designs.

WWD meets five graduating students from FIT's fashion design program.

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Designs from FIT thesis students.

The Fashion Institute of Technology’s graduating fashion design students spent their entire senior year learning remotely due to the pandemic. This meant crafting their thesis collections — designs that are often seen as an entryway to getting a coveted design job or, in rare cases, a star-making order from an influential store — from their own homes.

With limited resources, students improvised by upcycling old or deadstock fabric and by cleverly constructing clothes on their living room floors.

Herein, WWD meets five members from FIT’s class of 2021 who explain the concepts and inspirations behind their thesis designs, as well as their hopes for the future.

Azamy Abraham

Name : Abraham Azamy

Hometown : Mission Viejo, Calif.

Describe the concept behind your thesis collection : My concept is focused on capturing the playfulness of undressing and the subtle illusion of skin exposure. I find the irony in flaunting your body while being fully clothed to be mischievous yet seductive. My idea for this garment was based more on sex appeal as a suggestion rather than an obvious statement. The intention is to give the wearer the power to be provocative in a way that is subtle and refined.

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Where have you been studying from while school is closed? Do you have plans to move after the pandemic? The transition from in-person to remote learning has been a blessing in disguise. I have been studying from my apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y. Once COVID-19 hit, I was fortunate enough to be able to convert my common area into a work studio, and invest in a commercial sewing machine outfitted with my own cutting table and desk. I felt my creativity flourish in this environment that I created for myself, which enabled me to design more freely.

How has the pandemic affected your design aesthetic or process and the outcome of your thesis collection? The forced isolation from the pandemic has allowed me to find my voice, effectively express my vision, and further my creativity. I had the opportunity to marinate in my ideas and to cement exactly what it is I’m offering to future employers. The catalyst for my creative process begins with an idea, concept, or character and once that is established, designing from there. Creating on my own during the pandemic narrowed my focus for the better and everything came together in an organic way.

Has the pandemic changed your outlook on the fashion industry? If so, how? We as creatives are responsible for cultivating new and effective methods for the production process, as well as the quantity of merchandise we spew out into the market. In the beginning of the pandemic, it became increasingly difficult to gain access to resources as a fashion student, which further solidified the concept of “less is more.”

Who do you hope is reading this and what is your message to them?  I would hope a potential, future employer will see this and recognize my integrity and ability to design from a genuine and raw point of view.

Hawwa Ibrahim

Name : Hawwaa Ibrahim

Hometown : Mankato, Minn.

Describe the concept behind your thesis collection : Inspired by genderless fashion and art in the Islamic world, this collection offers clothing that is genderless and created for the parent and child to think freely about how they would like to express themselves now and in the future.

What techniques are you most proud of in your thesis collection? I created the prints used throughout my collection by taking items that I found in my house and putting them through a kaleidoscope effect to create geometric shapes that resembled what you might see in Islamic art. I also incorporated some embroidery to give the design some texture. I took the word “inclusive” and translated it into Arabic and machine-embroidered it on one of the jacket straps of my design.

What were some of the inspirations, concepts or important world events that helped lead your thesis work ? I decided to challenge the idea of color being associated with gender and used a mix of shades and tones to create something that no one has seen yet. A lot of gender-inclusive or gender-neutral clothing we see nowadays has a tendency to be a bit bland when it comes to color.

How has the pandemic affected your design aesthetic or process and the outcome of your thesis collection? Throughout this pandemic, I was able to narrow down the things that are important to me in life and as I paid more attention to how people around the world treat each other, I found myself growing closer to my religion, my Islamic faith. I found a way to showcase something that’s fundamental in my life and heavily influences the way I live — so with gender identity, this also plays a role in how I choose to express myself. Contrary to popular belief, gender expression and religious identity are not mutually exclusive. I try to live in harmony with both.

Has the pandemic changed your outlook on the fashion industry? If so, how? The pandemic has drastically changed my outlook on the fashion industry. There has been a disregard for not only other people’s identities, but also with who is represented. I always knew this was happening, but the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement across the world last summer forced me to wake up. I saw how quickly people and companies within the fashion industry suddenly switched up to act like they’ve cared about Black and Indigenous people and people of color this whole time as they continue to profit off of them with no recognition and no respect. However, finally seeing other designers emerge and get the attention they deserve gave me some hope that the fashion industry is slowly moving in the right direction.

What do you hope to accomplish most in your career as a fashion designer? Children, even at their young ages, have opinions and beliefs, so I would like to provide them with options of expression. I hope to create children’s clothing that sparks conversation around how people consciously choose to express themselves with clothing and how it intertwines with other aspects of their life. Fashion is much more than nice pieces of clothing. It’s identity, it’s comfort, it’s its own language. I personally take my views on gender identity and my religious beliefs and let those things open up a world of possibilities in design.

What are your plans for after graduation? After graduation, I am hoping to work in children’s wear for two or three years to gain some experience. After that, I want to work full time for my own apparel and accessories brand, Because, which I started in 2019. My goal is to incorporate genderless children’s clothing into the mix!

Saemi Jeon

Name : Saemi Jeon

Hometown : Incheon, South Korea

Describe the concept behind your thesis collection: My thesis collection is called “The Memory Vessel.” The concept comes from seeing Memor Studio’s artwork on Instagram around memory jugs. The origins of the memory jug are somewhat vague, but they were made as memorials for deceased loved ones.

What techniques are you most proud of in your thesis collection? I used a variety of techniques, including hand-knitting, knitting done on a Stoll machine, weaving and latch-hook skills. I enjoyed incorporating the techniques to achieve the final look, which came together quite naturally. I am most proud of my hand-knit work in the balaclava and sleeveless drop-shoulder sweater top, because it was my first time knitting an entire piece by hand.

What were some of the inspirations, concepts or important world events that helped lead your thesis work? After learning the concept of the memory jug, I asked myself; “if I were to make a memory jug, what memory would I put inside of it?” Many memories came into my mind. A dogwood flower. I was once gifted white dogwood flowers at my graduation. This flower is delicate, and soft. Even though I don’t have the flowers anymore, the memory of that day still warms my heart.

Where have you been studying from while school is closed? Do you have plans to move after the pandemic? I have been studying both at home in Korea and here in New York. I went back to Korea last semester and took classes at night and early morning, which was very tough. I came back to New York this semester and studied at home. I don’t have a plan to move back to Korea after the pandemic. I will remain in New York City.

How has the pandemic affected your design aesthetic or process and the outcome of your thesis collection? I had limited access to school where the knitting labs are. It would have been a much easier process to work in the labs and have face-to-face communication with professors and technicians. However, I was very touched by how hard everyone worked to make up for the limitations placed on the students.

Has the pandemic changed your outlook on the fashion industry? If so, how? The pandemic has lifted up the curtains on worldwide pollution. The Himalayan mountain tops came into view, wild animals appeared in city streets, the air was cleaner. Through this unexpected situation, we had an opportunity to take a step back and see what we could have. The fashion industry should shift to a more sustainable chain of production.

Name a trend you are ready to see take off and a trend you are ready to see finish : I would love to see timeless classic designs, based on comfort become the trend. Flashy, showy trends that are ever-changing from season to season is something I’m ready to see fade away.

Esther Yitao Li

Name : Yitao Li

Hometown : Taiyuan, China

Describe the concept behind your thesis collection : The inspiration for this collection was the idea of distortion. In the digital world, in which we find ourselves so completely ensconced, I am constantly confronted with distortion whether it’s associated with media, art, or people’s biased opinions. Many things we see on the internet are not real but filtered through other people’s lenses.

What techniques are you most proud of in your thesis collection? I tried creating distorted “floating plaids” on the body with multiple materials including horsehair and 3D-printing material. The plaid fabric manipulation was moved and reshaped on the body to show movement. I also combined the plaid pattern with lace to juxtapose sharpness with softness and create a romantic effect.

What were some of the inspirations, concepts or important world events that helped lead your thesis work? My interest was piqued in how images in the media were different from reality, how software like Photoshop and other image-editing apps could easily change the appearance of anything and deceive the viewer. The process started by using distorted filters on regular objects. The distortion filters were then applied to my designs and drapes to find new silhouettes and possibilities.

Has the pandemic changed your outlook on the fashion industry? If so, how? I believe after the pandemic hit the industry there have been some positive effects. People in this industry have been doing things the same way for hundreds of years and suddenly everyone was forced into adjusting. I was amazed at how the creativity from the industry evolved in a remote environment. The collections were even better than previous years. There was also a bigger audience on social media platforms and new talents are getting a lot more exposure.

Gabriela Villatoro

Name : Gabriela Villatoro

Hometown : Miami

Describe the concept behind your thesis collection : Taken from the idea of upcycling, I wanted to make multifunctional garments. By showing the wearer how the same pieces can be used to create different looks, the wearer can “upcycle” the garments themselves and extend the product’s life cycle.

What techniques are you most proud of in your thesis collection? One of the best things about being in knitwear is being able to create your own fabric. All of the fabrics used in the garments were handmade or designed and programmed by me. I used hand-knitting, machine-knitting techniques and felting wool on sheer silk.

What were some of the inspirations, concepts or important world events that helped lead your thesis work? I wanted my collection to serve as a prototype solution for the overproduction of apparel materials in the fashion industry. If we create pieces that can be used multiple ways, ideally it would reduce the overall number of textiles and clothing being produced.

How has the pandemic affected your design aesthetic or process and the outcome of your thesis collection? I think the pandemic has really forced me to look within myself to be a solution-driven designer. In a classroom environment you can easily turn to your peers and ask for their help when you’re stuck or ask for their opinion. Although we still meet and see each other online, the distanced environment has highlighted our individual thinking.

Name a trend you are ready to see take off and a trend you are ready to see finish : I’ve seen things that have the feeling of being handmade become increasingly popular. I think because of the pandemic a lot of people had the time to start new hobbies and make whatever they want, which I think is great to see.

A trend I’m ready to see go is sweatpants. With the pandemic, and nowhere to go, they’re the most practical solution, but I look forward to the days when we will have somewhere to go.

What are your plans for after graduation? I want to start working in knitwear because there’s still a lot I can learn, and then hopefully use what I’ve learned to start my own brand of clothing.

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173 Creative Fashion Research Topics: Awesome List Of Ideas

fashion research topics

The 21st century has amplified fashion such that even a newborn knows about it. However, the challenge of finding unique fashion topics always baffles both college and university students. That is why some of them end up copying whatever they find online or guess whatever comes to mind.  

Do you want to save yourself all this unnecessary drama? Keep reading this exceptional guide.

Fashion Industry: Definition

Now, fashion refers to a form of expression at a given time, place, and culture. You may have heard of the latest smartphones, clothing, or even cars – well, that is part of fashion. It is not only limited to clothes and fine jewelry in the boutiques.

For something to be fashionable, it has to do with either new or dominant clothes, hairstyles, accessories, make-up, footwear, or lifestyle. A lot comes into play when it comes to fashion, and as such, it is always subject to change every time. Now that we have jogged your memory on the definition of fashion, let’s get into how to prepare and write a fashion-related thesis paper or art dissertation .

Getting Started With Your Fashion Research Paper

Before you engage in any undertaking, there is the planning process. That is what we want to cover in this section with regards to acing your fashion paper. Now, I know that thousands of websites guide me in writing a top-level research paper on fashion. However, ours is unique – we provide professional tips from our reliable writing service that you will never find anywhere else.

Stay with me as we start journeying through this together:

First, understand your research question on fashion: This is a critical step that will shape how you will answer the question. Break down the question into bits that will help you understand what your professor wanted from you. Second, dive into the research process: I know most lazy students would not want to hear about this step at all. However, it is also crucial in helping you determine the topic and content that will go into your fashion research paper. Select an appropriate topic: After looking at what others have done and identifying the gaps, pick a topic that best communicates your idea. Remember that the subject should be concise, catchy, and appealing to anyone at first sight. Proceed to write an engaging thesis statement about fashion: This is what drives the direction of your essay, and as such, it should be in-depth. A thesis statement on style should capture what you intend to talk about and set the objective for your paper. Draft informative topic sentences for your body paragraphs: Every topic sentence should marry with your thesis statement. A person reading your topic sentences should relate them to the question you posed in the thesis statement. The right topic sentences will give life to your dissertation on fashion in a fantastic way! Looking for supporting evidence: You should be able to back up your topic sentences with trustworthy examples and illustrations. These can either be statistics or case studies, depending on the fashion topic that you are handling. Find an exciting concluding remark: Never underestimate the power of the conclusion paragraph in any form of writing. It determines what the reader will take home after going through the long and tedious body paragraphs. Therefore, it should be as captivating as possible.

After tackling the preparation and writing part, I know you may be asking, ‘where can I find writing ideas for fashion research papers?’ Well, the answer is one scroll away, my friend:

  • Fashion magazines and books
  • News stories on fashion events
  • TV documentaries
  • Online fashion stores and blogs
  • This fantastic article (Did you think that I would leave it out?)

You are as ready as a horse prepared for the battle to crush any fashion assignment with all these. But for now, here are 173 of the most impressive fashion ideas for your inspiration.

Engaging Fashion Research Topics

  • What your fashion taste says about you and the psychological impact of fashion
  • How have women’s movements impacted today’s fashion?
  • What is the correlation between fashion and 20th-century women empowerment?
  • The brighter side of invisible branding in fashion
  • Tools used in fashion marketing
  • Understanding fashion cycles: From trendy to obsolescence
  • The impact of fashion in movies on the youth
  • The role of garments in prehistoric ages
  • The evolution of style from the 20th century
  • The role of class in promoting a culture
  • What influence does the military have on culture?
  • Understanding the fashion industry: A Multi-billion dollar industry
  • Fashion trends that were influenced by 1980s music.
  • The role of dressing in subculture identification
  • Fashion dressing in the golden age of Queen Elizabeth Era: What it meant ad how it defined social status.
  • Evaluate why women pay a close look at what they wear than men

In-Depth Fashion Topics For Students

  • What is the net profit and benefit of the fashion industry?
  • Fashion ideas that originated from the 80s and are still used in the modern society
  • The role of fashion in pushing for social agendas
  • Legalizing of Bhang: Is it just fashionable or a necessity?
  • Evaluate Retro fashion trends in the 21st century
  • Investigating the ethics of suing flesh and fur in high fashion
  • The science behind fashion trends
  • The Psychology of cross-dressing: What is fueling the massive cross-dressing in today’s society
  • Luxurious and Royal Fashion trends during the Cold War
  • Discuss how the media impacts what people wear
  • What is the relationship between art and high-end fashion
  • How is the LGBTQ community impacting the fashion industry today?
  • Icon case study: How music has influenced the successful running of Fenny Beauty
  • How significant is a celebrities influence on fashion trends: A case study of Beyoncé
  • Luxurious fashion companies and their impact on the general fashion trends
  • Investigating the influx of designer products in the fashion market: Have they come affordable, or is there a leak in the market?

Best Quality Fashion Topics To Discuss

  • The impact of fake luxurious products on the high-end fashion industry
  • Investigating working from home the new fashion lifestyle: What is the cost-benefit analysis of working from home
  • Examining The recent boom in the wig fashion industry
  • How big is the trending make-up industry ad what is its impact on the economy
  • How Celebrity events push fashion trends
  • How fashion translates the empowerment of the modern woman: A case study of Serena William
  • How masks evolved from protective gears to fashion statements and the danger in the prevailing Covid’19 pandemic
  • How fashion influences the psychology of its consumers
  • The role of style in music in influencing teen fashion taste: A case study of Taylor
  • Investigating the relationship between fashion and royalty during the Queen Elizabeth era.
  • Analysis of the development and growth of fashion: A case study of Australia
  • How Britney Spears pioneered the low rise jean fashion trend
  • Investigating the hair industry: Who are the leading suppliers of hair in the globe, and who are its consumers
  • How fashion can alter your look: How to look slimmer or curvier using fashion hacks.
  • Source of leather for your fashionable belt, shoes, and wallet
  • A study of the entry of trendy beard products into the hair industry

Excellent Fashion Topics To Write About Today

  • An analysis of sustainable and ethical fashion brands
  • The role of innovation and creativity in the running of the fashion industry
  • A complete guide for buying fashionable high-end textile materials
  • Understanding the concept of enclothed cognition: The impact your clothing choice has on your mental process
  • Smart Casual: The latest trendy office fashion
  • What is the role of fashion accessories in our dressing?
  • The fashion statement of a handbag in every woman’s life
  • Ten niches in a fashion that do not exist but should exist
  • A review of the book Queen of Fashion by Marie Antoinette: How has it influenced style as we know it today?
  • Investigating the impact of fashion trends in the running of a business
  • compare and contrast between the European and African fashion
  • Understanding denim as a fashion trend
  • How big is the Vlog mass industry, and what is its role in pushing fashion trends
  • How do age and gender affect what people wear?
  • Why you should consider the prevailing fashion trends before starting a business
  • Is Vlog a fashionable wave, or is it here to stay?
  • The role of Tik-Tok in creating fashion trends and propagating them
  • Understanding the Androgynous model: A case study of Willy Carter

Good Research Paper Topics-Fashion

  • How the online industry has changed fashion
  • Discuss the effects of various professions on what people wear
  • How successful was the rebranding of Abercrombie and Fintech in 2019
  • A study of the balance between style and functionality
  • How do Fashion High-Tea events influence people’s wardrobes?
  • Strategies to market luxurious fashion brands
  • How luxury fashion is branded and its importance
  • Discuss the effect of COVID-19 lockdowns on fashion
  • The role of style in celebrity branding
  • The rise of fashion in developing countries
  • The impact of trends on the psychology of the consumer
  • Analyzing the relationship between fashion and pop culture
  • The role of Jane Austen boos in defining fashion in the golden age
  • Style in the time of Jane Austen
  • How fashion affects the 21st-century movies and films
  • Understanding luxurious fashion advertisement
  • What are the challenges of the fashion industry?
  • How necessary is liquidity in the fashion industry

Quick Fashion Research Paper Topics

  • The role of photography in the marketing of fashion brands in today’s world
  • Marketing strategies of the fashion industry in the 80s
  • The role of digital print in today’s fashion marketing
  • The part of the color in fashionable dressing
  • Understanding fashion and feminist movements
  • Understanding fashion and Masculinity
  • How aesthetic is essential in fashion
  • Investigating colorism in fashion
  • The role of style in public relations
  • Investigating the role of class in politics
  • Did type exist in medieval times?
  • The importance of Red Carpet events in the fashion industry
  • Discuss the role of religion in what people wear
  • Factors that influence change in fashion trends
  • Global premium fashion brands and how they rose to the top
  • How fashion in the western world influences the rest of the globe
  • The relationship between style and symbolism
  • Investigating sexism in fashion advertisement campaigns

Best Fashion Prompts In 2023

  • The contribution of fashion to economic growth.
  • How racism is prevalent in fashion advertising
  • Traditional textile fashion designs and their reemergence in the 21st century
  • A study on the earliest American fashion
  • Effects of fashion on people’s self-esteem and self-worth
  • Understanding how fashion styles trend
  • The role of crossover fashion in comedy
  • Is crossover fashion the next big thing?
  • The mechanism of the fashion industry: How it works
  • Characterizing modern fashion dressing
  • The relationship between cancel culture and fashion
  • The role of culture in shaping social trends
  • Discuss the rising culture of fashion among the youth
  • Why it is essential to consider the style for a wedding ceremony
  • How the fashion industry has created employment
  • How different seasons of the year determine what people wear
  • The impact of covid-19 on our current lifestyle

Custom Fashion Discussion Topics

  • Did the pandemic have any impact on fashion trends?
  • Investigating the relationship between fashion, identity, and culture
  • What is the relationship between fashion and religion?
  • A list of celebrities considered fashion icons ad their contribution to fashion trends.
  • The relationship between plastic surgery and pushing fashion brand
  • Investigating the influence of fashion trends on the mental health of a community
  • The innovation of Nylon in the fashion industry
  • Investigating the decline of some fashionable attires. A case study of the tie
  • The concept of In cooperating fashion designs in school uniforms for expensive schools
  • Trade fairs in the fashion business
  • The role of women in the fashion industry
  • Challenges to expect as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry
  • Contrasting the use of men vs. women in marketing fashion designs
  • A guide on building a successful fashion business
  • The evolution of minimalism in fashion dressing
  • The necessary skills to learn before starting your fashion business
  • Top trendy fashion style by entrepreneurs
  • Relationship between liberalism and fashion
  • Understanding the influence of feminism on fashion

Top Fashion Marketing Writing Ideas

  • How are online stores promoting fashion in developed nations?
  • Emergent fashion trends following the pandemic
  • Impact of climate on fashion trends
  • Fashion trends for people with disabilities
  • A study of the baby clothing fashion industry
  • Understanding organic VS synthetic fashion trends in the market
  • Analyzing the direction of adults looking like children
  • A study in the origin of the motif
  • A study on the falling popularity of office wear in the workplace
  • How working at home has impacted the workplace office industry.
  • Understanding the decline in popularity of leather accessories
  • Investigating the sustainability of some fashion trends
  • Investigating the impact of fashion on the environment and its resources
  • The origin and evolution of beachwear
  • The understanding manner in the textile industry.
  • Where did waistcoats originate from in the US?
  • Checked Vs. plain fashion dressing
  • The trendy use of unconventional material for dressing: A case study of lady gaga

Top Class Fashion Design Topics

  • Who is the teenage fashion Icon?
  • How Audrey Hepburn revolutionized the fashion industry
  • Understanding the timeliness of fashion gowns from the 80s
  • How Laurel Bacall pushed the trend of silk blouses, pencil skirts, blazers, and pleated trousers
  • Understanding Tuxedo since the 60s
  • The popularity of chunky heels between 2019- 2021
  • Understanding the preference between sneakers and high heels
  • The role of fashion writers in pushing for fashion trends
  • The contribution of celebration to the fashion industry in the USA
  • Impact of ethnicity on fashion trends
  • Relationship between poverty and fashion
  • A comparative analysis of fashion trends in royal families across the globe
  • The influence of royal families on fashion trends
  • Costume culture a case study of Madonna
  • How ball gowns have evolved
  • Does the fashion industry have a bright future with the proliferation of the internet?
  • Investigating the social-cultural history of fashion to understand how it has evolved

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Future fashion cities: Paris to overtake New York?

By Annachiara Biondi

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Paris is expected to overtake New York to become the number one city for relevance and potential in the global fashion industry by 2025, according to IFDAQ Global Cities Consumer IPX (Index). The likelihood is that London will rise to third place, surpassing Milan, the research says.

IFDAQ Global Cities Consumer IPX (Index), exclusive to Vogue Business , evaluates global cities according to four dynamic-weighted key factors, including general economy, fashion economic performance, market capitalisation and industry influence. These factors take into account infrastructure, GDP, brand presence, wealth, consumption power and creative power.

Paris is likely to reap the benefits of Brexit, including faster European Union integration and less competition from London, according to Frédéric Godart, co-CEO of IFDAQ and associate professor of organisational behaviour at INSEAD. “The competition with London was fierce, but now that London is out, Paris is going to be the de facto economic capital of the EU,” he says. New York is losing traction economically, partly because of the US-China trade war, says IFDAQ co-CEO Daryl de Jorí.

A further boost for Paris, defining it as the world centre of luxury, is the ever-increasing dominance of Paris-based conglomerates LVMH and Kering. Godart makes the comparison with Silicon Valley’s dominance of technology. “It's a classical capitalist concentration dynamic, a clustering effect.”

The French capital’s central role seems assured. “Paris has the allure, the glamour and is the home base for two huge influential fashion groups that anchors it,” says Julie Gilhart, industry veteran and chief development officer of Tomorrow Consulting. “In my fashion history I’ve seen Milan, London and New York going up and down. The only thing that remains pretty solid is Paris.”

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By Lucy Maguire

The young designer bringing ‘provocative’ ideas to Milan Fashion Week

By Rachel Cernansky

In 2019, the world’s 10 largest luxury companies, led by LVMH and Kering, increased their share of industry revenue , accounting for 51 per cent of all sales by the top 100 companies. The Covid-19 pandemic has since accelerated luxury polarisation, with high-performing companies weathering the storm while smaller players struggled. Analysts say these conditions provide fertile grounds for M&A , with market consolidation to the benefit of the biggest players. “Paris is still taking a lot of advantage from its last 20 years of mergers,” says de Jorí. Since 2000, LVMH and Kering between them have acquired or bought stakes in more than 10 leading luxury brands.

London versus Milan

The rise of London over Milan is a less straightforward story and might reflect a progressive weakening of Milan’s status rather than a strengthening of London’s role, says Godart. While both cities are facing economic uncertainties ranging from the impact of Brexit to the economic hit of the Covid-19 pandemic, London has a more dynamic economy. “For London, it’s much more of a temporary [challenging economic] state and we believe it will soon recover, while Milan never really recovered from the economic crisis of 2008,” says de Jorí. “The Italian economy is too weak to build more traction and interest from brands.”

By Christina Binkley

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The Italian fashion industry and the country’s wealth are also distributed among different cities, including Florence, Venice and Rome, rather than concentrated in one place, as in London and in Paris. Godart says that the “concentration effect” is absolutely critical for the relevance of cities such as Paris, London, Tokyo and Moscow. Besides Italy, Spain, Germany and China are all examples of countries where power is shared between two or more cities.

David Gilbert, professor of urban and historical geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, who has researched the geographies of fashion, says London appears the most vulnerable of the four capitals because it derives its status not from the luxury brands based there but from its reputation as a source of edginess and innovation. “London, more than the others, depends on that churn of ideas. You can imagine another city doing the same things that London does in terms of creativity, innovation and avant-garde,” he says. Post-Brexit, rising prices and economic uncertainties could well squeeze independent designers out of the city.

The role of fashion weeks

In the IFDAQ Index, Paris, New York, London and Milan will maintain their dominance until at least 2030. But the Index predicts a gradual decrease in importance as other cities step up their influence — including Tokyo, Los Angeles, Shanghai and Moscow.

A key factor is the likely continuing global impact of the four cities’ fashion weeks, says Godart. These will endure despite current industry debates over the fashion calendar and the future of fashion weeks . “To some extent they will evolve: there will be more diversity and other fashion capitals, but you don’t change institutions in one year,” Godart says. He notes that the four fashion capitals retain the necessary infrastructure and organisational experience — as well as the luxury brands — to trigger the most interest on a global scale.

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Gilbert says that in the early 2000s it was commonly anticipated that the future fashion order would shift towards cities such as Shanghai, Mumbai or São Paulo. Instead, the traditional order has reasserted itself over the past 20 years. “Those fashion capitals are locked in symbolically in a way that almost becomes self-fulfilling,” he says. “As long as the global elite looks at those places as markets with elite status, that stays in place.”

Gilhart is wary of making long-term predictions, particularly after the Covid-19 pandemic has led to industry reevaluation of the structure and meaning of fashion weeks. “Covid has made us rethink everything, including what is valid about fashion week and what it’s not,” she says,

She adds that cities that might seem less relevant now could become important again by developing new formats or launching new trends. Shanghai is well positioned to become a force thanks to an abundance of talent and creativity. Launched in 2001, Shanghai Fashion Week has steadily increased its relevance on the global fashion calendar, attracting international buyers with shows that mix new local talents and international brands eager to tap into the Chinese market. The showcase was the first to return as a largely physical event in October 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the international show calendar. “We will see a time when New York, London, Milan, Paris and Shanghai will be equally as relevant,” Gilhart predicts.

Moscow: City to watch

Moscow may be a significant city to watch. It is forecast to grow in importance for the fashion industry, surpassing Shanghai in 2026, according to the IFDAQ Global Cities Consumer IPX (Index). De Jorí says the core reasons why Shanghai will plateau in the Index include a decrease in Chinese consumer purchasing power as population growth slows as well as likely slower growth patterns both in salaries and in GDP.

The concentration of wealth and consumption in Moscow will boost its rise in prominence. In Russia, the capital city accounts for more than 70 per cent of luxury consumption, contrasting with China where luxury consumption and wealth are spread among many first-tier cities. Anna Lebsak-Kleimans, CEO of Fashion Consulting Group Russia, adds that luxury brands rarely open stores beyond three cities in Russia — Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Sochi.

European and American luxury brands dominate the Russian luxury sector. Moscow has hosted its own fashion week, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, since 2000, but local fashion businesses remain small and mostly focused on the local market, says Lebsak-Kleimans. But she notes that segments of the local fashion market, such as modest wear and eco-friendly underwear, have developed fast in the last six years, boosted by direct-to-consumer e-commerce and more government support for local industries after US sanctions imposed in 2014.

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