Exploring Fashion Capitals in the Long Twentieth Century



When fashion is mentioned, thoughts often turn to specific locations such as Paris, London,New York, Milan and Tokyo. There is a strong connection between these locales and the idea of style or fashion, but there remains little analysis of these links. How do the city and fashion interact? What firms, structures, systems, industries and innovations have supported these developments? In essence, what aspects led to the development, growth, success and failure of fashion in certain locations? Furthermore, new fashion locations have appeared and their models, structures attributes, and geographies which allow for success or failure differ from those of the capitals. What is it that sets these new capitals apart? Is the geography of fashion locations expanding or does it remain structured within the traditional hierarchy?  

This seminar will consider the relationship between cities and fashion, from the tradition of European centres of Paris and London to less fashion-centric locations such as Berlin and Shanghai. Speakers will discuss the relationship between fashion and the city, addressing cases of specific fashion capitals and industry-focused locations to explore how the two are interlinked. They will explore the role of industry, advertising, public and civic consciousness of the importance of the industry, competition and more, bridging the relationship betweenthe garment industry and the effervescent field that is fashion. Speakers include David Gilbert of Royal Holloway University (UK), Pierre Yves-Donzé of Osaka University (JP), Mario Perugini and Elisabetta Merlo of Bocconi University (IT), Sonnet Stanfill of the Victoria and Albert Museum (UK) and Branco Popovic, co-creative director of the Dutch fashion festival FASHIONCLASH. 

This seminar aims to build on and extend current topics of study by bringing togetherresearchers from various disciplines who explore the relationship between fashion and the city. Research is currently being undertaken within the fields of business history, design, geography and management, yet much of this is being performed separately. As such, this event aims to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue upon the fashion capital concept, how it may be approached and considered. By extension, it will question how analysis has beenundertaken into the traditional fashion capitals, what are the fashion-related roles played by locations, and how is the balance of power shifting from the traditional capitals to new fashion locations? 

Provisional Programme:

7th December

13:00-13:30 Coffee

13:30-13:45 Welcome and Introduction: Ben Wubs, Mariangela Lavanga & Alice Janssens (all of Erasmus University Rotterdam)

13:45-15:00 Session A: The Fashion Ecosystem

Sophie Kurkdjian (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode) “The Rise of Paris as a Fashion Capital, 1868-1945”

Mario Perugini & Elisabetta Merlo (both Università Bocconi) “The Rise and Fall of Turin as the Italian Fashion Capital (1900-1950)”

Annick Schramme (Universiteit Antwerpen) “TBC”

15:00–15:15 Break

15:15–16:30 Session B: Manufacturing Fashion

Alice Janssens (Erasmus University Rotterdam) “Making Berliner Fashion”

Bethan Bide (Middlesex University London) “‘Paris Makes Fashion, London Makes Clothes’: Using Making Processes to Map the Changing Status and Networks of London fashion After WW2”

Emanuella Scarpelini (Università degli Studi di Milano) “Milan, the Last Capital of Italian Fashion”

Provisional Programme:

8th December

9:30–10:00 Coffee

10:00–11:00 Provocation

David Gilbert (Royal Holloway) and Patrizia Casadei (University of Trento and Florence) “Unpicking the Fashion City: Single Urban Formation or a Multiplicity of Types and Trajectories”

11:00–12:15 Session C: Intermediaries and Events

Pierre-Yves Donzé (Osaka University) “Tokyo and the Birth of Modern Fashion in Japan (1945-1990)"

Taylor Brydges (University of Bern) “The Rise and Fall of Toronto Fashion Week”

Mariangela Lavanga & Lilia Sacco (both Erasmus University Rotterdam) “Placing the Amsterdam Fashion Week in the Career Path of Fashion Designers”

12:15–13:15 Lunch

13:15–14:30 Session D: The Politics and Path Dependence of Fashion

Sonnet Stanfill (Victoria & Albert Museum) “Florence: Fashion, Diplomacy and the Creation of a Fashion Capital”

Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas (London College of Fashion) “Shanghai’s Fashion Evolution: The Past, Present and Future of a Transglobal Fashion Capital”

Anouk Douvenvoorden & Rachel Pownall (both Maastricht University) “Cultural and Creative Industries in Peripheral Areas: A Study of the South / Limburg Area”

14:30-15:00 Break

15:00–16:00 Session E: Fashion Capitals and Industry

Moderator: Susan Vegter (STUDIOVEGTER)

Speakers: TBC

16:00–17:00 Closing Panel Session

Moderators: Ben Wubs and Alice Janssens (both Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Panel Speakers: David Gilbert (Royal Holloway), Pierre-Yves Donzé (Osaka University), Mariangela Lavanga (Erasmus University Rotterdam) & Elisabetta Merlo (Università Bocconi)