Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Global Chic

The images above and below represent stereotypical ways of understanding global diversity in fashion. There is a tendency to see the East in its archaic forms or to fail to see the contemporary importance of its culture and fashion amid difficult living conditions. Above the exhibition Les Orient des Femmes celebrates traditional Asian and Middle Eastern dress. Below the Western luxury dress is the focus amid the impoverished surroundings of India from Vogue India 2008.

There are designers outside of America and Europe who are beginning to make influential fashion. This has already been seen of course in the Japanese designers in Paris such as Yamamoto. The question is if these designers need to frame their designs with Western aspects like branding, or as seen below, Parisian showrooms.

Shanghai wool designer Qiu Hao

As we look to China, there are a number of factors which led to their domination in manufacturing. Production has transformed China and it is now a leader in contracts with some of the top fashion labels.

Above the 3 major aspects of globalization: production, markets and economies. These areas are experiencing a convergence of countries along with convergence of information. Below the official tourism photo of the "factory of the world," Guangzhou which has grown from farm to global urban center in a few decades. More apparel and other products are produced here than any other one place in the world.

One of the consequences of Guangzhou's over production is major pollution. Above the government's position is to confiscate personal motorbikes and cars to reduce emissions but as seen below the smog is also the result of factory production. See the consequences of Apple factories here.

Above Rivoli's book on the path one t-shirt takes reveals the power structures of the world. Below the emerging BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are said to become the leaders of the 21st century.

Above an organization Made in China supports that despite rumors, workers are willingly producing goods in safe conditions. This contradicts recent reports that workers are treated inhumanely to meet demands. Below the organization Not Made in China boycotts foreign products.

Below, some luxury labels are now promoting other countries. The American owned Rugby has fine wools and silks made in Italy. The Italian label Prada has kilts made in Scotland and textiles made in India.

Above the global movement has generated a new consciousness, especially being green. Sustainability is a global movement toward better integrity in design production as seen below. Reduce-reuse-recycle is the order of least amount of energy wasted.

Above and below fashion companies try to use ethical fashion practices as advertising platforms. American Apparel has promoted better working conditions and Lacoste has a limited edition that supports endangered crocodiles. This has led to criticism of greenwashing and other trends to appeal to consumers.

Above and below fashion designers with eco policies. Rogan Gregory of both Edun and Rogan above and Stella McCartney below who refuses leather and fur and is wind powered in manufacturing and stores.

Looking closely at India reveals that it may be possible for an emerging power to balance global commercialization and traditional fashion identity. Above the first Vogue India and below traditional ikat fabrics.

Above the traditional dupatta was made famous through Bollywood. Below the most famous breakout film of the region, Chandni of 1989.

Below, although Vogue is a Western frame onto Indian culture the most famous Bollywood celebrity has brought global attention to India. Aishwarya Rai has a love of global fashion and has been featured on several covers. But it raises the question if to be a success in an Eastern market, one needs to be framed through Western media or associated with Western fashion labels? Does global power have to dress Western?


  1. As you said, the flow of information usually seems be from the West to the East. So any narrative latched on to the West seems to become popular. Interestingly, as India is becoming richer, many international brands are opening shop here, catering to India and Indian tastes. If you see Marchesa's SS2013, it's India inspired, Louboutin has come out with an India inspired shoe collection and Indian designer Manish Arora was the creative director for Paco Rabanne for a few seasons (his designs are being worn by celebs all across the world).

    I think that for both East and West to meet, the design has to appeal to global sensibilities but the fabrics and texture can be Eastern.

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  3. Stunning pictures!


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