Italian Dress: Geography’s Role on Major Designers and Traditional Fashion

Below is an extensive research paper and its corresponding presentation I completed as assignment in my course, “Dress, Society and Culture” at the University of Georgia.


Introduction

From Fendi to Ferragamo, Italy is often recognized as a fashion-conscious country, which has been established by the iconic designers that are rooted in Italian history. Considering the notion that various Italian cities have regional cultures, most Italian designers have developed as a product of the specific place in which they originated, rather than the country, as a whole. Thus, Italian dress can be classified as highly regionalized, reflecting the traditions, values and culture of a specific Italian society.

Italy can be divided into three main regions, including the north, the center and the south. Traditionally, the north encompasses cities such as Milan, Lake Como or Venice; the center includes Florence and Rome; the south contains Naples, the Amalfi Coast and the island of Sicily. Not only is the country separated by physical regions based on geography and climate, Italy’s administrative roots are more decentralized. Specifically, da Cruz (2000) comments on the state of Italy post-World War II, saying that a “consistently insecure governmental structure resulted in the absence of a unified Italian fashion center, thereby estranging the country’s fashion artists from competition in the mid-century global market.” Thus, not only was the country somewhat excluded from the worldwide trade, but it was also unable to establish a single, booming “fashion capital,” such as Paris, New York or London.

Furthermore, White (2000) defines the post-war period as “an era of rapid economic, social and cultural change in Italy” (p. 5). Although many luxury Italian brands were established in the early twentieth century prior to World War II, it was not until the mid-to-late twentieth century that they picked up esteem, as a whole. In fact, 1965 marks “the emergence of Italy as a major international stylistic and economic force in international fashion” (White, 2000, p 6). Because most brands developed within a more segmented country prior to World War II, the several designers who are a product of Italy are a representation of the region in which they originally served, rather than the whole country. While the list of Italian fashion designers is expansive, this research focuses on one from each region—Prada, Gucci and Emilio Pucci.

Prada, which surfaced in Milan in 1913, was founded by Mario Prada as a luxury leather goods business; in 1978, Muiccia Prada assumed ownership from her mother, making her the third generation of the Prada family to oversee the business (Bolton & Koda, 2012). The central Italian designer to be researched is Gucci, founded in Florence in 1921 by Guccio Gucci. The “small family luggage and leather goods firm survived World War II to become part of the great post-war upsurge of Italian craftsmanship” (Mower, 2006, p. 15). Also, in 1950, Emilio Pucci “opened a boutique on Capri dedicated to simple, yet beautiful resort clothing that embodied the island’s natural beauty and refreshingly bright colours” (Mansour, 2018). Thus, these iconic Italian brands have a rich history, shaped by the region in which they began.

Because these three brands all came to fruition throughout the twentieth century,this research will focus mainly on modern Italian dress in each region. While understanding the history of each brand is important, their influences are still relevant in today’s cultures. While regional cuisine, weather, economic climate and overall cultural norms certainly played a role in the development of traditional Italian dress, how did Italian designers—specifically Prada, Gucci and Emilio Pucci—evolve as a product of their respective regions?

Prada and Milan

Prada is often associated with elegance, as the brand has its roots selling to Italian elites in the early twentieth century. In fact, in 1919, “Mario received a warrant for his goods from the Italian royal family” (Bolton & Koda, 2012, p. 29), which allowed him to use the House of Savoy’s distinct coat of arms in its logo. Thus, Prada’s designs are exclusive, sophisticated and chic. After Muiccia Prada took over in 1978, she upheld the original aesthetic, but also began to experiment with ‘ugly.’ According to Williams (2018), Muiccia “has been using her ugly-chic designs to market insider cool for decades.” The current aesthetic of Prada combines sophistication with ‘ugly’—a style that certainly appeals to the worldwide fashion industry, but more specifically to the Milanese.

On a personal level, Muiccia Prada’s garments are influenced by Milan. She explains how she seeks inspiration from individual interests in life, in society, in culture when designing (Bolton & Koda, 2012). Thus, the city she grew up in, the city where her father began the famed fashion house and the city in which she currently resides—Milan— influence her each and every day, in new and innovative manners. Also, Steele (2003) aligns the brand with Milan saying, “Prada’s style is modern, drawing on the northern Italian tradition of having discreetly elegant clothes beautifully made by local tailors and dressmakers” (p. 107).

Although Milan is often considered the present-day fashion capital of Italy, Milan came to fruition as a prominent financial center and a prosperous manufacturing city (Lecco & Foot, 2017). Thus, it is interesting to note that Muiccia Prada’s sophisticated and minimal designs were often influenced by the city, itself, and its overall atmosphere. In fact, she admits how her garments are inspired by industrial materials and techniques, as she utilizes synthetic fabrics, technical materials and military-influenced garments (Bolton & Koda, 2012). These types of designs are a leading example of how Prada has seen success in designs that are ‘ugly.’

After taking over the label, Muiccia updated the conservative merchandise. “In 1985, she introduced a line of lightweight backpacks in a fine-gauge nylon satin, trimmed with leather, that pretty much transformed urban life” (Bolton & Koda, 2012, pp. 29-30). Named the pradabag(pronounced as one word), the simple design soon became highly desired by Milanese working women and men, alike. Thus, it is evident that Muiccia’s first success within the family business was influenced by the active Milanese people and the need for a utilitarian, sleek handbag.

Although Muiccia Prada has clear influences from the people of Milan, she also seeks inspiration from their lavish lifestyles. According to Bolton and Koda (2012), “her style is both deeply rooted in the sartorial conventions of bourgeois Milan—the drab palette and sober luxury of tailored clothes that are meant to convey substance and respectability—and incorrigibly ironic about them” (p. 30). Whether designing to support the simple, austere clothing of the city’s inhabitants or poking fun at them, she analyzes the Milanese people—the jobs, their family structure, how they commute, what they do for fun—and creates garments with them in mind.

In an analysis of Prada’s Spring 2019 Ready-To-Wear collection, Mower (2018) exclaims, “placing fashion on an equal footing with an art performance is a prerogative Muiccia Prada has always asserted. It puts people on the edge of their seats, straining to correctly perceive what this oracle of fashion will have to say about the state of the world.” Throughout several decades, Muiccia Prada has remained true to her Milanese roots as a designer, yet has continued to challenge the world around her.

Gucci and Florence

Ornate, eccentric and glamorous, Gucci embodies symbols of wealth, ranging from well-to-do Florentines or hip-hop artists of the modern day. Although Guccio Gucci certainly established the label as elaborate and luxurious, Alessandro Michele—the current Creative Director—has continued these types of designs, while also creating a “new romantic and flamboyant, multi-hued aesthetic” (Finnigan, 2016).

According to Foot, Silver and Erhlich (2017), “the present glory of Florence is mainly its past.” In fact, the city still honors its history in terms of religion, art, power and wealth (Foot, Silver & Erhlich, 2017). Thus, Gucci strives for opulence. Much like Florence is known for particular art (Michelangelo’s Davidor Botticelli’s Birth of Venus) and architecture (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fioreor commonly ‘the Duomo’), Gucci is also known for particular symbolism, such as the “bamboo, the green-red-green webbing, horsebits and the famous GG initials that were originated by Guccio Gucci” (Mower, 2006, p. 14). According to Mower (2006), Gucci’s products “were handmade at Gucci work-benches in Florence, constructed with the finest materials” (p. 14).

Florence, itself, is an opulent city and Gucci’s overall aesthetic is certainly mirrored in this. Goldsmiths and jewelers are concentrated on the Ponte Vecchio, a symbol of Florence (Foot, Silver & Erhlich, 2017), making precious metals and jewels both a part of the city’s commerce and Gucci’s collections through the years. Therefore, “Gucci also perceived the status attached to the sporting pursuits of his leisured customers” (Mower, 2006, p. 25).  Also, the brand utilizes the finest leather from the cattle of the local Tuscan region. Thus, the brand established an ostentatious target customer early on and has rarely strayed from that.

Florence “is far more dependent on tourism” (Foot, Silver & Erhlich, 2017) and of the three designers explored, Gucci is certainly the most saturated in the modern fashion industry. From GG belts and Gucci t-shirts seen in streetwear to the sheer number of times the brand is name-dropped in hip-hop lyrics, Gucci is certainly well-known. Hence, both the city and the brand are favored by the general public. Mower (2006) adds “The name of Gucci became yet another attraction luring American tourists to Italy, a force that transformed the country into the sexiest possible holiday destination” (p. 15). Also, “When the hip-hop outsiders become multi-millionaires, they put Gucci at the top of their shopping list.” (Mower, 2006, p. 30).  Truly, Gucci has been, and still is, a sought-after brand.

As a tribute to its Florentine roots, Gucci recently opened Gucci Garden, a concept-store, museum and restaurant, all rolled into one. According to Goldberg (2018), “The aim is to hearken back to Florence’s roots as a hub of activity–where markets, restaurants and various shops lined the Palazzo where the ‘Garden’ is now based, selling handmade crafts and delicacies.” Not only does Gucci strive to represent a Florentine influence with their products, but with their overall brand image and mission.

According to Mower (2006), “Gucci is quintessentially Florentine” (p. 16). Even today, Gucci’s Creative Director—Alessandro Michele—seeks to revive Gucci’s past. In an analysis of the Spring 2019 Ready-To-Wear collection, Mower (2018) describes Michele as “a designer who rummages around in the past and ends up finding himself there. The past living in the present: There is a global powerhouse of a brand built on Michele’s ability to keep magicking up that fantasia.” Even though the Gucci family is no longer involved with the brand, Michel understands their founding vision and respects their Florentine roots.

Emilio Pucci and Capri

Emilio Pucci’s “brightly colored, synthetic clothes emphasized physical exuberance as well as a feminine intellectual charisma” (Casadio, 1998, p. 7). Thus, the brand’s overall aesthetic can certainly be characterized as bold, whimsical and distinct. With once glance at a Pucci print, the viewer can easily imagine the garment’s use in a seaside town, such as Capri.

Although Emilio Pucci was born to a wealthy Florentine family, he spent much time in the south of Italy, on the island of Capri. Soon after launching his fashion career, Pucci crafted a collection in 1949 in Capri, the island which had a strong influence on his use of color and thematic prints (Casadio, 1998). Not only was Capri a source of inspiration to Pucci, but he also utilized the island and its craftsman for his garments. According to Casadio (1998), “Pucci also had his clothing produced in Capri, by small-scale tailors along the coast, not long because of the low production costs, but also because he adored spending his free time on the beautiful island. There, free from distractions, he was able to dedicate himself to completing his design” (p. 12).

As a popular resort town in southern Italy, Capri is famous for its beautiful scenery, a mild climate and flourishing vegetation (“Island of Capri,” 2015). Pucci, himself, was a frequent visitor of the island for vacation or solace but, in 1950, he opened a boutique, La Canzone del Mare (The Song of the Sea), at Marina Piccola, “a decision that provoked much curiosity and created a scandal among his aristocratic friends and relatives who considered work rather beneath their status” (Casadio, 1998, p. 12). While visiting Capri on holiday was status-quo for Pucci’s contemporaries, deciding to live and work there full-time certainly was not.

A major influence that Capri made on Pucci was through the vivid colors seen throughout the landscape. In fact, Casadio (1998) adds“color played a primary role. It was a signifier, an indicator of emotions, a metaphorical language that recalled the depths of the sea, iridescence, and the infinite tonalities of shadow” (p. 17).

In an analysis of Emilio Pucci’s Spring 2019 Ready-To-Wear, Phelps (2018) exclaims how “the visionary founder set the codes for color, swirling print, and sportif decades ago. Now, according to the design team lead, the internal thinking is focused on ‘locating the future of Pucci.’ Like its past, the house’s future appears to be ‘on holiday.’” By establishing the brand in a city of lavish escape, Pucci set the tone for the brand’s image of bold, lightweight resort-wear.

Conclusion

Although some countries can identify a single fashion capital, Italy lacks this ability. After World War II, Florence claimed the title of fashion capital by hosting the annual Pitti Palace shows and exhibitions, but Milan saw growth in the apparel industry and seized the title by the 1970s  (Foot, Silver & Erhlich, 2017). However, having multiple hubs of fashion has only allowed the country to flourish in the textile, leather, manufacturing and overall fashion industries.

“With Milan and Tuscany as saturated production centers, and Venice, Rome, Sicily and Florence as inspirational landmark in the evolution of the Italian aesthetic, the growth and influence of Italian fashion is ever present and ‘Made in Italy’ is one of the most recognizable stamps of quality and innovation in contemporary fashion” (da Cruz, 2000). As seen through the examples of Prada, Gucci and Emilio Pucci, Italian fashion is highly regionalized. Although the ‘Made in Italy’ label carries the same degree of superiority, despite the specific city that it came from. According to Paulicelli (2015), “one of the most appealing factors Italy possesses in the eyes of foreigners is the idea of ‘authenticity’, a cultural capital that is linked to heritage and the past.” This regard for ‘Made in Italy’ products comes chiefly from the authenticity of the craftmanship. Italian dress, which is regionalized and therefore unique, varies visually from city to city, but carries an overall sense of quality, despite its city of origin.

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References

Bolton, A. and Koda, H. (2012). Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible conversations. New York,   NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Casadio, M. (1998). Emilio Pucci. New York, NY: Universe of Fashion.

da Cruz, E. (2000). “Made in Italy: Italian fashion from 1950 to now.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York, NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Finnigan, K. (2016, May 8). Farewell minimalism: How Gucci brought the fun back into     fashion. Retrieved October 29, 2018 from https://www.telegraph.co.uk.

Foot, J., L.A. Silver & B. Ehrlich. (2017, September 20). Florence, Italy. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from https://www.britannica.com.

Goldberg, C. (2018, January 9). Eat Chic: Gucci is serving up exclusive products–and pasta–in   Florence. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from https://www.harpersbazaar.com.

Island of Capri. (2015, January 23). Retrieved on October 22, 2018 from https://www.britannica.com.

Lecco, A. and J. Foot. (2017, November 29). Milan, Italy. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from https://www.britannica.com.

Mansour, L. (2018, February 22). Prince Of Prints: The history of Emilio Pucci. Retrieved September 16, 2018 from http://aeworld.com.

Mower, S. (2006). Gucci by Gucci: 85 years of Gucci. New York, NY: The Vendome Press.

Mower, S. (2018, September 24). Spring 2019 ready-to-wear, Gucci. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from https://www.vogue.com.

Paulicelli, E. (2015). Italian fashion: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 20(1), 1-9.

Phelps, N. (2018, September 20). Spring 2019 Ready-To-Wear, Emilio Pucci. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from https://www.vogue.com.

Steele, V. (2003). Fashion, Italian Style. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Williams, R. (2018, August 5). How Prada is rising nostalgia and ‘ugly fashion’ to turnaround. Retrieved October 29, 2018 from https://www.businessoffashion.com.

White, N. (2000). Reconstructing Italian Fashion. New York, NY: Berg.

 

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Jeans: Through the Years

As my fifth semester at the University of Georgia draws to a close, I am currently finishing up final projects and exams. For my Trend Forecasting & Analysis course, I was tasked with completing a analysis of a twenty-first century design trend in the form of a digital booklet. My professor gave an in-class example using swimwear, one of my classmates is charting the change in bras/bralettes and I decided to analyze jeans through the years.

Because we are now in the year 2017, this analysis required research of seventeen years to give a full evolution of jeans from 2000 to present. Through reading online articles, looking to style leaders and celebrities from each year and sifting through fashion magazines at UGA’s Library, I was able to compile a digital booklet that chronicles how women’s jeans have been re-designed and re-thought in the twenty-first century. Humanity is blessed to have a variety of genes, but fashion is blessed to have unique jeans.

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Performing a Fashion Count

According to E. Brannon and L. Divita (2015, 91), a fashion count is “a method for researching fashion change that consists of finding a suitable source for fashion images, sampling the images in a systematic way, applying a standardized set of measurements or observations to each image, and analyzing the data to reveal patterns of fashion change.”

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

As a part of the curriculum for my “Trend Forecasting and Analysis” course, I was tasked with completing a fashion count. In performing the assignment using the October 2017 issue of Vogue, I chose to analyze fur color. In setting standards for the fur color, I agreed that the fur could comprise any part of the garment—an entire jacket, the hemline trim, a hat—but I would only consider fur worn by women. Additionally, I set the color standards, including the primary colors (red, blue, yellow), the secondary colors (orange, violent, green), the tertiary colors (red violent or pink, blue violent or purple, yellow orange or tan), as well as black, white, grey and brown—considering animal fur is often this natural shade. In terms of types of photographs, I determined that I would only count colored photographs; considering black and white photographs would have skewed my data.

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Data from the fashion count on fur color.

Because I utilized a the most current issue of Vogue, I figured that several of the photographs would feature the Fall 2017 and/or Winter 2018 designer collections, meaning fur would potentially be a common textile. Overall, fur appeared twenty-seven times throughout the issue. Although more neutral fur shades, such as black and tan, seemed to be the most prevalent, various colored fur was often accounted for. Most notably, I discovered multicolored fur in three different photographs; one garment featuring a blue and white fur shawl, another garment featuring a purple, black, red, yellow and blue fur purse handle, and also a black and yellow fur hat. In addition to designs with multicolored fur, other garments featured various colors—from pink trim around the neck of a coat to a yellow fur vest. Therefore, in terms of fur trends, designers may be moving away from the more traditional look of genuine fur or faux fur, manufactured to imitate living creatures.  Instead, these designers are embracing bold and vibrant-hued faux fur to add a fun element to various garments.

A potential explanation behind this shift in fur trend could be the rise of awareness surrounding animal rights. According to G. Cook (2017), “Yvonne Taylor, director of corporate projects for PETA, acknowledges that ‘most designers don’t work with fur, and certainly the majority of consumers don’t wear it,’ but insists that the protests are still necessary.” Therefore, a movement toward brightly-colored, faux fur would align with both designers’ intentions and consumers’ requests. However, because Vogue features editorial advertisements from the few couture designers (Burberry, Fendi, Gucci, among others) that still do work with authentic fur, more natural fur colors—such as, tan, brown and white—are still prevalent in the fashion count.


References

Brannon and L. Divita (Eds.). (2015). Fashion Forecasting. New York, NY: Bloomsburg.

G. Cook. (2017, September 19). Making Sense of the Anti-Fur Protests at London Fashion Week. Business of Fashion. Retrieved from https://www.businessoffashion.com.

The Conundrum With Copycat Couture

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 10.17.23 PMIf I told you one of these jackets was an authentic design and the other was an imitation would you be able to distinguish the two? Most likely, you would barely be able to spot the differences. However, the jacket on the left is an authentic Chanel jacket, while the one on the right is a copycat. Within the fashion industry, there is a growing issue with the lack of authenticity, in terms of designers copying each other’s designs and stealing their intellectual property, with little to no penalty. In fact, the overall counterfeit market produces $600 billion annually. According to Chavie Lieber, knock-off and copycat products “represent about 7 percent of the global trade, with a revenue that’s nearly twice that of the illegal drug market.” Although trademarks, patents and copyrights do slightly protect fashion designers, these counterfeits still run rampant. Therefore, there is a blatant need to regulate copycat items in the fashion industry—from their conception, to their creation to the end consumer—with the implementation of public policy.

Before presenting a potential policy to quell the crisis of stolen intellectual property and copycat fashion, let’s take a look at the history of the issue.

 Because there is little intellectual property protection in the fashion industry, fast fashion retailers often copy designs from high-end, well-known designers and mass-produce them for a fraction of the cost. For example, anyone who is familiar with Zara knows that the Spanish brand is infamous for their imitation creations. In fact, Alexandra Jacobs of The New York Times visited the Zara flagship store in Midtown Manhattan and reported, “my friend tried on, and liked, an Alexander Wangish motorcycle jacket made of leather pounded thinner than a veal paillard, but couldn’t bring herself to buy it. ‘It smells like burning rubber,’ she said.” Clearly, these consumers were able to recognize the lower quality of such a knock-off item.

However, a few regulations do exist to regulate copycat items— such as, copyrights, patents and trademarks. Copyrights apply to “anything that is functional, or has a physical function in the real world,” as stated by Tyler McCall. For example, “Jewelry gets copyright protection, in large part because jewelry is a lot like miniature sculptures and art is copyright” according to McCall. McCall also shares that “two-dimensional designs: fabric prints, jacquard weave and lace patterns” can receive copyrights. Patents, on the other hand, have “to be something that is not only useful, but new or novel to all the world,” according to McCall. However, there is a subcategory of patents, called design patents, which McCall describes as “the ornamental aspect of the functional items.” For example, Alexander Wang has several design patents for his handbags, only because of the unique hardware included. Lastly, McCall explains that “lot of fashion companies and designers default to trademark protection.” McCall further explains that “trademark protection typically can’t protect an entire garment or accessory, but at least can protect the logo or the label.” There is also a special category of trademarks known as trade dress protection. McCall offers Christian Louboutin shoes as an example saying, “Even without taking off the shoe. . . you see the red sole, you know it’s Louboutin; therefore, that red sole can serve as a trademark.” Clearly, these copyrights, patents and trademarks are useful to many designers, but actually contribute little in the overall fight against counterfeit fashion.

Now with greater understanding of the limited protections for fashion designers and their creations, we can examine how imitation fashion affects the economy.

Not only is copying and manufacturing another designer’s creation ethically wrong, it also poses economic threats to the fashion industry. Manufacturing and selling imitation fashion impacts the country where the products are manufactured, the country where the products are sold and the end-consumer. For example, countries that produce copycat goods usually suffer “tax losses, since the counterfeits are normally sold through clandestine channels and counterfeiters are not generally keen to pay tax on their ill-gotten gains,” according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Additionally, the OECD states that, “Although many consumers believe they are getting a bargain when they buy counterfeits, the actual value of the product is normally much lower. Hence, they end up paying an excessive price for an inferior product.” Looking further into this issue, the mass-production of replica fashion and robbery of intellectual property has grown so much that several law schools have begun to incorporate programs to train lawyers in this field. In June 2015, “Fordham Law School became the first accredited law school to offer a degree in fashion law,” according to Marianys Marte of The Fordham Observer. Fordham University School of Law describes intellectual property as one of “the four pillars of fashion law,” upholding how vital it is to have trained professionals in this subject.

While Fordham University recognizes the need to solve the problem surrounding imitation fashion and stolen intellectual property, a concrete plan to solve this issue must be developed and implemented.

In order to effectively combat the creation and sale of knock-off and copycat fashion, the best plan of action is to establish an International Trade Association, dedicated solely to the fashion industry. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “There is no international trade association for the fashion clothing industry. Most luxury brand owners employ in-house anti-counterfeiting officers and are members of national pan-industry anti- counterfeiting associations.” However, efforts in recent years have been made to fight the growth of knock-off and copycat fashion. For example, The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) aims to “strengthen the international legal framework for effectively combating global proliferation of commercial-scale counterfeiting and piracy,” according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Therefore, the creation of one, unified body would allow for (1) control over the fashion industry, (2) the generation of more agreements such as the ACTA and (3) for legal and financial penalties to be placed on offenders. This association would be formed of key players in the industry—such as, designers, global trade officers and lawyers trained in fashion law. Overall, an International Trade Association would allow global trade in the fashion industry to be closely monitored.

However, with this plan of action, there also come disadvantages and counter-arguments.

 With the notion that the fashion industry should establish an International Trade Association, it is important to understand the practicality of this plan and how it would unfold. The main disadvantage to the creation of one global, governing body would be the limitations it would bear on the creativity of the fashion world. For example, some designs look almost identical, not because one brand copied the other, but because the silhouette is a current trend in the fashion cycle. Therefore, the International Trade Association would need to be careful when distinguishing between the latest trend and a designer’s original creation. Additionally, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) presents two valid counter-arguments. First, the OECD claims that “counterfeits actually contribute to the marketing of the brand without causing any significant loss in profits.” More specifically, this insinuates that someone carrying an authentic Louis Vuitton bag and someone carrying a knock-off Louis Vuitton bag generate the same amount of buzz for that brand. Therefore, a counterfeit item does not seem so negative in this context. Secondly, “some consumers buying fake luxury items do so knowingly and would not be prepared to pay the price of the genuine item,” as stated by the OECD. Therefore, these customers actively seek out a faux-designer item to achieve a certain status, without the hefty price tag. Despite these disadvantages and counter-arguments, the creation of a regulatory body remains a viable plan. Coupled with copyrights, patents, trademarks and regulations (such as the ACTA), the creation of an International Trade Association is needed to actually monitor these current regulations, as well as implement more detailed protocols.

Because there is a serious need to regulate knock-off copycat items in the fashion industry, this need can be fulfilled through the creation of an International Trade Association. Counterfeit fashion degrades the authenticity of many fashion designers and their original creations. Additionally, it poses many economic threats—for the manufacturers, retailers and consumers. Although replication may seem like the biggest form of flattery, within the fashion industry, serious action needs to be taken for the future wellbeing of clothing.


Works Cited

“Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).” Office of the United States Trade Representative, Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Oct. 2011, ustr.gov/acta. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

“The Economic Impact of Counterfeiting.” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1998, www.oecd.org/sti/ind/2090589.pdf. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Jacobs, Alexandra. “Where Have I Seen You Before?” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 27 Mar. 2012, www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/fashion/at-zara-in-midtown-its-all-a-tribute.html?_r=0. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Lieber, Chavie. “Why the $600 Billion Counterfeit Industry Is Still Horrible for Fashion.” Racked, Vox Media, Inc., 1 Dec. 2014, www.racked.com/2014/12/1/7566859/counterfeit-fashion-goods-products-museum-exhibit. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Marte, Marianys. “Fordham Becomes First Law School Accredited For Fashion.” The Fordham Observer, Fordham University, 26 Aug. 2015, www.fordhamobserver.com/fordham-becomes-first-law-school-accredited-for-fashion/. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

McCall, Tyler. “Copyright, Trademark, Patent: Your Go-To Primer For Fashion Intellectual Property Law.” Fashionista, Breaking Media, Inc., 16 Dec. 2016, fashionista.com/2016/12/fashion-law-patent-copyright-trademark. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

“MSL in Fashion Law.” Fordham University School of Law, Fordham University, www.fordham.edu/info/23328/msl_in_fashion_law. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

What I’m Watching: The True Cost

“This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?

Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.” 

The True Cost

While scrolling through Netflix hoping to stumble upon a sappy romantic comedy, I instead found The True Cost. The documentary follows the lifecycle of clothing; from its earliest stages in cotton farming to the sweatshops in Bangladesh to fashion designers who create for the runway. So I do not spoil the film, I won’t divulge all the details, but I did find a few statistics quite eye-opening. For example, 1 in 6 people work in the fashion industry in some form, making it the most labor dependent industry in the world. Additionally, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry, second only to the oil industry. Furthermore, the average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year, producing over 11 million tons of textile waste from the US alone.

Clearly, The True Cost presents several statistics on the detrimental side of the fashion industry. Overall, the documentary is a call to action for all components of the fashion industry. Individuals in the agricultural sector have a responsibility to produce fibers that are non-GMO and use limited pesticides. Factory owners must find a way to employ their workers with fair working conditions and a living  wage. Fashion designers have a responsibility to only outsource production to places where the workers are treated well. Americans, as consumers, must learn to only consume products that we truly need, to reduce excess. All actors in the fashion industry have a responsibility to fix the true cost of the industry that encompasses much of our global society.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Fashion in the Classroom

As a second year fashion merchandising major at the University of Georgia, I have begun to experience fashion in a classroom setting. Last semester, I was enrolled in TXMI 3210- The Fundamentals of Fashion Merchandising. UGA Bulletin describes the course as an “introduction to the trends and influence of fashion in society and review of the international and domestic fashion resources. Identifies the various product categories in fashion merchandising and discusses the innovative processes that sustain the fashion business. Analysis of how fashion is conceived, marketed, and sold.” Additionally, this semester I am enrolled in another fashion merchandising course. TXMI 4240, Fashion Promotion and Visual Merchandising, is an “overview of promotion practices in the apparel design, product development, manufacturing, and retail merchandising environment, including promotion planning and budgeting, special event organization, advertising, public relations, publicity, fashion show production, and visual merchandising,” according to UGA Bulletin.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2016.

In addition to fashion merchandising courses, I am also enrolled in an entrepreneurship course- FACS 2011. FACS 2011, Introduction to Entrepreneurship, is “an introductory course targeted to students interested in creating and growing their own businesses and will serve as the foundation for the Entrepreneurship Certificate Program” as defined by UGA Bulletin. Even though I have just started taking courses pertaining to my major, classes are much more enjoyable. Most college students change their major at least once, but I am convinced that fashion merchandising is the right fit for me. Follow me on my academic journey, as I study and learn about the fashion industry to reach my long-term goals with a career in fashion.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2016

Your Collegiate Major: Just How MAJOR Is It?

Every college student can certainly affirm that the question “what’s your major?” comes up in small talk quite often. For many (at least during their freshman year), the response is a long-winded explanation of why they have yet to declare a major. For others, they are among the thousands of  Biology or Business majors. For me, my answer is unique and simple— Fashion Merchandising.

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After scrolling through Pinterest and reading a headline—“5 Common Misconceptions About Fashion Merchandising Majors”— I had to delve into the article. Personally, fashion merchandising is all I have ever dreamed of studying, but I certainly understand how many people are simply confused (and even skeptical) by the concept. Without the area of study, the fashion world would be lacking some of its finest!

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So what exactly is fashion merchandising? A broad term, fashion merchandising encompasses the business side of the fashion industry. Professionals with a fashion merchandising career still have a keen sense of style, yet also have a brain for the business world. Some of the several careers that an individual with a fashion merchandising degree can pursue include; an assistant buyer, a product line manager, a visual merchandiser, a design development coordinator or an market research trainee, among others.

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What sparked my interest in fashion merchandising? To be completely honest, my love of Elle Woods from a very young age probably has a least a bit of an impact.tumblr_nett31iPQx1rqauelo1_250 Legally Blonde was the first PG-13 movie I saw— at the age of five! Mesmerized by Elle’s lifestyle—full of shopping, pink and sorority sisters— I was determined to grow up and emulate her. On the surface, Elle seemed exciting to my five-year old self; yet, on a deeper level, Elle Woods is a woman with quite a strong intellect. By working incredibly hard to be admitted to Harvard Law School, speaking her mind, commanding respect and never letting a man get in her way,tumblr_n5bmfueGeC1qk4fe1o10_r1_250 Elle Woods was an inspiration to me from the beginning. Combined with my affinity for shopping and sheer fascination with the fashion world, I knew I had to follow Elle’s footsteps and study fashion merchandising. My eighteen-year old self is quite proud to say that I am currently fulfilling my five-year old self’s dream as a fashion merchandising student at the University of Georgia.

I may have online shopped during every Statistics lecture this semester and I don’t always dress to impress, but fashion is what I love. My classes may not be as challenging as a Pre-Med student, but—whether people understand it or not— I am pursuing one of my deepest and most profound dreams. Who knows where the next four years in this major will take me, but I have faith that I will end up doing something that I truly enjoy.

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Choose a job you love, and you will neverhave to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

The Fashionista is Relocating

Athens, Georgia: here I come! My time in the Washington, DC area has come to a close, and in less than 12 hours I will be in the car, en route to the next chapter of my life. Beginning my freshmen year at the University of Georgia, I plan for a memorable, challenging, fun four years.

© Mary Kate Donahue, 2015

   Just because the fashionista is relocating does not mean she will become absent. You will still be seeing frequent Instagrams at @fashionista_mkd and weekly blog posts! While earning my degree in Fashion Merchanising and enjoying my college years, I hope to still portray my commentary, obsessions, and inspirations in the fashion world!

Xoxo, Mary Kate, “The Fashionista”

Fordham University Launches Fashion Law

Elle Woods would certainly be thrilled to hear of this breaking news. Fordham Law School and the Fashion Law Institute, along with the CFDA’s president Diane von Furstenberg have launched the world’s first degree in Fashion Law. According to Fordham University, “Starting this fall, attorneys and non-lawyers alike will have an unprecedented opportunity to pursue master’s degrees in fashion law. These groundbreaking new programs mark the next step in the Fashion Law Institute’s mission to support the global fashion industry through innovative legal education” (“Fordham”).

Fashion Law Institute Director Susan Scafidi, CFDA President DVF and Fordham University Provost Stephen Freedman © Getty Images

Fashion Law Institute Director Susan Scafidi, CFDA President DVF and Fordham University Provost Stephen Freedman © Getty Images

Fordham’s groundbreaking program will include “classes in fashion financing, fashion modeling law, fashion licensing, and sustainability” (“Fordham”), allowing these lawyers to gain a vast range of knowledge on all subjects. Hopefully, the fashion world can only improve with the addition of bright, successful lawyers.

Personally, I am about to embark on my next four years at the University of Georgia studying Fashion Merchandising, and just maybe a degree in Fashion Law is also in my future. I always have aspired to be just like Elle Woods and live in the Big Apple…and I think my opportunity has surfaced!

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Works Cited

“Fordham Law School and Fashion Law Institute Launch World’s First Fashion Law
Degrees.” Fordham University. Fordham University School of Law. Web.
22 June 2015. <http://law.fordham.edu&gt;.