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Shopping

In 2007, Comme des Garçons opened a new ‘guerrilla store’ in Warsaw. Scheduled to remain there for just one year, it was part of a programme of similar ‘pop-up’ shops by the label; the first was in East Berlin in 2004, followed by similarly transitory boutiques in Barcelona and Singapore. Each had its own character, in keeping with its environment. In Warsaw, the shell of an old Soviet-era fruit and vegetable shop remained intact, with green tiling, patchy plasterwork, and traces of ripped-out fittings on the rough walls. This aesthetic was extended into the ‘display cabinets’, really Soviet furniture, installed to house the label’s range. Cabinets clung haphazardly to the walls; drawers spilled out, lopsided and half open to expose shiny perfume bottles; broken chairs cascaded from the ceiling with shoes balanced precariously on their battered seats; clothes were hung on bare metal rails; and twists of wire hung from light fittings and curled on the floor, half hidden under the stacks of fittings.

The effect was of an abandoned storeroom, with clothes and accessories left behind in the shopkeeper’s rush to leave. This atmosphere was symbolic of its geographical and historical context, with communism abandoned in former Soviet bloc countries, to be replaced by capitalism. This has led to a shift from buying what was needed; or rather what was available, to shopping for what is desired and aspired to, from a wide choice of goods.

The rawness of the shop also chimed with the nature of guerrilla stores, which suddenly take over an urban space. Indeed, this was the label’s third incarnation in Warsaw; the first had appeared in 2005 in a derelict passageway under a bridge.

Although they might seem unplanned, such shops are part of Comme des Garçons’ strategy to remain at the forefront of fashion retailing. Some of the stores remain open for only a few days, others a year; none are advertised, other than through emails to existing customers, perhaps a few posters in the local area, and, crucially, through word of mouth. These processes mimic the effects of a subculture, reaching out to opinion-makers within an inner circle already aware of the label’s status in the fashion industry as pioneers of avant-garde style and design.

The guerrilla store creates an atmosphere of exclusivity, intrigue, and excitement around its products. It promotes the feeling that its visitors have privileged knowledge, and that they are taking part in a semi-covert event by shopping there. It therefore plays into the key elements of early 21st-century high-fashion consumerism, by emphasizing desire, lifestyle, and identity. As such, the store, again like street cultures, suggests individuality yet membership of a group. It advocates shopping as an experience, in this case akin to visiting a small art gallery. Importantly, it builds the brand in a manner that is in keeping with its intellectual ethos. It apparently rejects the excesses and decadence of much fashion advertising and retailing, while remaining a shrewd marketing device to target its core audience, as well as luring in the curious passer-by.

Since the 1980s, Rei Kawakubo, the designer behind Comme des Garçons, has launched a series of innovative shops. The spare, minimal spaces of her early boutiques drew upon the aesthetics of traditional kimono shops, with garments folded on shelves. This was combined with a reverential air produced by the limited number of items on display, making shoppers focus on details and packaging. Her peers, as well as high-street brands such as Gap and Benetton, mimicked this approach, with wooden floors, plain white walls, stacks of sweaters piled on shelves, and carefully positioned clothes rails that emphasized space and clean lines.

Dover Street Market in London opened in 2004 by Kawakubo and her husband Adrian Joffe took a different approach, with carefully presented fashion and design labels shown in separate spaces across the building. On one floor, a changing room is housed in an oversized gilded birdcage, on another clothes are grouped with plants and garden accessories. Kawakubo’s conception of Dover Street Market is as a place that is flexible and varied; she states on its website that:

I want to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos: the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision.

The affect is of a contemporary version of a 19th-century bazaar, populated by a changing array of exclusive fashion lines and eclectic objects.

Alongside Comme des Garçons’ more permanent boutiques, such enterprises stress the importance of variety and flexibility in modern retailing. In a saturated market, designers and fashion labels of all kinds must distinguish their identity to build a strong customer base. While Comme des Garçons represents the cutting edge of this enterprise, its methods hark back to earlier predecessors, from 19th-century department store entrepreneurs who understood the need to create spectacle around their goods, to early 20th-century couturiers, who designed their salons as intimate sensual spaces that mirrored the style of their clothes.

The development of retailing

During the Renaissance, fabrics and trimmings were, as they had been for centuries, bought from markets and a range of itinerant peddlers. Lace, ribbons, and other decorative items would be taken around the countryside, or sold wholesale to local stores. Larger villages might have a draper’s shop, which sold wools and other materials, while towns might also have a milliner’s, which would sell the finest silks and wools.

Local dressmakers and cobblers would make up clothes and accessories, and buying garments could therefore be a lengthy process, as the elements of an outfit were bought from various shops and then made up by craftspeople. Purchasing patterns were different in each country. In England, people would often travel to a nearby town or city to buy more fashionable clothes. However, the fragmented politics and geography of Italy meant greater distinction between regions, and therefore a wider range of shops in each village.

A global trade in textiles had been established for millennia, with international routes crossing Asia and the Middle East into Europe. Huge fairs were held to buy and sell fabrics to merchants and peddlers who would travel to, for example, Bruges or Geneva, or later Leipzig, where fairs were held three times a year, or to Brigg market in Leeds. During the 17th century, the English and Dutch East India Companies (EIC) improved trade links with Asia. By the mid-18th century, cotton from India, for example, became an everyday fabric. It was fashionable and, more significantly, it was cheap and washable, and therefore brought greater levels of cleanliness to people of all classes. Such goods could be transported across the globe because of improved shipping.

There was also an increasing demand for fashionable textiles, as more people wanted to be stylish and respectable, conforming to contemporary ideals of appearance and behaviour. The EIC fed people’s desire for new and changing textile designs, importing silks, cottons, and calicoes. Merchants spread new fashions by encouraging fashion leaders to wear their latest goods to stylish social events, which would then be reported in fashion magazines. Woodruff D. Smith has described how the EIC then commissioned Indian craftspeople to create more of the most successful designs, selling them on across Europe as the fashion spread out from Paris. As Daniel Roche has noted in relation to changes in dress in France, by the end of the 18th century, there was in general a far wider range of consumer goods available, ‘but everything that related to the expression of appearances, both social and private, increases still more’.

Textiles and clothing were relatively expensive, given to household servants as part of their wages, passed down through families, and sold on through a chain of used clothing shops and markets until they fell into rags or were turned into paper. In the 18th century, with better agricultural practices and distribution of wealth, more people wanted to buy fashionable clothes, at the very least for Sunday best. Shopkeepers began to take more time over the display and presentation of their wares and in their approach to customers.

By the 1780s, plate glass windows led to enticing displays and interior displays were beginning to be more sophisticated. Fashionable shopping was already shaping the geography of cities. In London, Covent Garden had become the first fashionable suburb, with Inigo Jones’ piazza housing various drapers’ and milliners’, which had moved west after the Great Fire of 1666. In Paris, the Palais Royal had been remodeled to provide perhaps the first purpose-built shopping centre, with rows of little shops and cafe´s around the perimeter of its gardens. Advertising and marketing were also developing. Handbills boasted of a particular shop’s range of readymade garments or rich selection of fabrics; fashion magazines gave detailed descriptions and illustrations of the latest modes, and entrepreneurial manufacturers and salesmen encouraged fashion leaders to be seen wearing their goods. Since the Renaissance, shopping had developed hand in hand with a growing sense of personal identity.

Fashionable dress provided the means to express this visually and knowing where and how to shop for fashion was key to achieving this. Novelists such as Tobias Smollet satirized people’s attempts to dress attractively, fashionably, and, frequently, above their station, conscious of the growing consumer culture that was to flourish in the following century.

The growth of shopping

In the early 1800s, small specialist shops continued to be important, but it was the emergence of larger establishments that began to group together a wider range of goods and services, which was to herald a new era in shopping. Aristide Boucicaut opened his Bon Marche´ in Paris in 1838, which by 1852 had evolved into a department store. It brought together fabrics, haberdashery, and other fashionable products, and introduced a strong social element to shopping by including a restaurant. Boucicaut developed various customer services, which added to the sense of a change in relationship between shop workers and customers, and between customers and the way they used a shop. His prices were fixed, and marked on all goods, which eliminated the need to haggle, and he also allowed refunds and exchanges.

The Bon Marche´ was one of a number of early department stores, including Kendel Milne in Manchester, which had evolved from a bazaar in 1831, and A. T. Stewart in New York, which gradually changed from a small draper’s in 1823 to hold the dominant position in the city’s main fashion shopping area on Broadway by 1863. These stores evolved increasingly sophisticated sales techniques. Shoppers were encouraged to browse, following the carefully designed routes through the shop floors, visiting the cafes and restaurants there, or stopping to watch the entertainments that were provided. For the first time, shopping became a leisurely pursuit, focused upon spending time and, it was hoped, money, in a fashionable, secure environment.

Women were the main targets for the department stores, and were enticed into these elaborate buildings by carefully organized window displays which emphasized the play of light on fine fabrics and the rich colours and textures of their stock. Previously, it had been impossible for middle- and upper-class women to go shopping alone. Even with an accompanying maid or footman, certain streets were out of bounds at particular times of the day.

Bond Street in London, for example, was a focus for shops for gentlemen, and it was improper for ladies to go there during the afternoons. These careful rules of etiquette were eroded by department stores, which encouraged women to socialize and browse, in what Edward Filene, the owner of a store in Boston, is quoted by Susan Porter Benson as calling an ‘Adamless Eden’. Not only did this give women greater freedom, it also shaped them as consumers. Erika Rappaport describes this change in ambiguous terms. Victorian women were expected to be concerned primarily with family and home. Female shoppers could be seen as focusing on such domestic matters by buying items for their children and husbands, as well as fashionable dress for themselves, which would demonstrate the status and taste of their families. However, going shopping also meant leaving the privacy of the home, and visiting urban centres, the public sphere previously dominated by men.

Shopping also focused on sensual experience, rather than more virtuous feminine occupations. In Rappaport’s words, this was part of the development of the city as a ‘pleasure zone’, in which ‘the shopper was designated as a pleasure seeker, defined by her longing for goods, sights, and public life’. Fashion therefore offered a contradictory experience. Shopping for clothes, accessories, and haberdashery allowed women to occupy a new space in the growing urban landscape of the 19th century, but it also potentially led them into a lifestyle focused on adornment and desire. Store owners worked to make their displays as seductive as possible, to persuade women to indulge themselves and spend whole days within their walls, or moving between the various shops that clustered close by in all large towns and cities.

Each store developed its own character, aiming to draw in customers who were attracted to their style, as well as to the diversity of their goods. Thus, in 1875, Liberty opened in London, selling furniture and objects from the East, alongside ‘Aesthetic’ dress, historically inspired loose gowns that offered an alternative to tightly corseted mainstream fashions. Some stores opened branches in other towns or in the suburbs, including, in 1877, Britain’s first purpose-built department store, the Bon Marche´ in Brixton, South London. Other stores launched branches in stylish seaside resorts, including Marshall and Snelgrove’s Scarborough store, which was open during the holiday season. The spread of department stores brought fashionable goods to a wider range of people. Most department stores had their own dressmaking departments, as well as selling the growing array of readymade clothes becoming available in the second half of the 19th century.

Stores worked hard to build up a relationship with their customers, winning their loyalty through services, quality, and price. These developments not only changed the ways in which people could buy fabrics and clothing; it simultaneously shaped ideas about how to behave and how to dress. Store advertising suggested acceptable standards of taste, and promoted an ideal of fashionable identity. This built on the increasing dissemination of fashions and desire to be part of consumer society, which was already established at the start of the century. Although department stores embodied bourgeois ideals, they embraced a wider range of people.

In 1912, Selfridges established in London along American lines and branded with its own shade of green carpeting, stationery, and delivery vans, opened a hugely popular ‘bargain basement’. The open design of department stores allowed a wide range of people to come in and look around freely. Although grander shops may have intimidated some shoppers, others would save up for a luxury item from a store whose clientele’s status and style they aspired to.

By the 1850s, the growth of public transport made shopping trips by bus or train simple and affordable. Underground trains in major cities would make this process even easier and encouraged the idea of a day’s shopping as a pleasurable and easy source of relaxation and entertainment. Stores worked hard to tempt shoppers with a combination of spectacular fashion shows that brought the glamour of French fashions to a wide audience and exciting new technology. In 1898, Harrods in London attracted a large crowd and much press coverage for introducing the first escalators to take people from floor to floor. While in the early years of the 20th century, American stores staged a series of Paris fashion shows, with real models parading through intricate stage sets, shimmering under specially designed electric lighting. The names of these extravaganzas evoke their atmosphere of decadence and excess. In 1908, Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia held a Napoleonic themed ‘Fête de Paris’, complete with tableaux vivants of the French court. Meanwhile, in 1911, New York’s Gimbels’ had a ‘Monte Carlo’ event. Mediterranean gardens were built in the store’s theatre, along with roulette tables and other props, to give an authentic feel of Riviera luxury to the thousands of people who visited.

While department stores brought fashion to the masses, opening in stylish shopping areas from Prague to Stockholm and Chicago to Newcastle, they were far from being the only source of fashion. The elite continued to frequent the court dressmakers and bespoke tailors they had gone to for generations. Tiny specialist emporia still thrived, often springing up in line with new fashions. For example, the early 20th-century craze for huge hats covered in feathers led to shops opening to sell ostrich plumes and other trimmings. Changing styles and faddish accessories also tempted male shoppers.

In addition to luxurious shops selling jewellery and accessories to wealthy gentlemen were those targeting younger men, eager to spend money earned from the rash of new white-collar jobs. As with women’s fashion, styles were spread by popular figures of stage and, increasingly, screen, as well as sporting heroes. A changing array of colours and patterns in ties and cravats, collar studs and cuff links would enliven men’s suits each season.

Mail-order shopping was another important innovation, particularly in countries such as America, Australia, and Argentina, where the distances between cities made visiting shops in person more difficult. Department stores had their own postal sales sections, which capitalized on improving parcel mail and the introduction of telephones. Marshall Ward, based in Chicago, had perhaps the most famous mail-order service, its catalogues tempting Americans with the increasingly wide array of ready-to-wear fashions for the whole family. Improving transport methods also helped this trade, taking goods by carriers’ carts and stagecoach, and then by rail.

By the first decades of the 20th century, therefore, consumerism had evolved to embrace a wide range of people of different sexes, ages, and classes. As mass-production methods improved during the 1920s, the selection of fashions and accessories available grew still further, and shops had to work harder to sell them effectively, in the face of growing competition. The already successful department stores and specialist shops were joined by ‘multiples’, an early form of chain store, which spread across Western countries. In America, branches of shops selling inexpensive fashions inspired by Hollywood stars’ costumes gained national popularity. In the United Kingdom, Hepworth & Son, which had opened as a tailor in 1864, expanded to have menswear shops throughout the country, and is still trading, having evolved into Next, a chain store for men, women, and children. Multiple-branch shops had the advantage of central buying and administrative systems, which could keep prices affordable and manage marketing and advertising campaigns.

They worked to produce a unified identity for their store designs, windows, and staff uniforms. While the dominance of chain stores by the second half of the 20th century led to accusations of homogeneity and, ironically, a lack of real choice for consumers, familiar brands reassured many customers by supplying the same type and quality of stock in each branch.

In contrast, couturiers continued to sell their designs in ways that combined centuries-old traditions with contemporary innovations. While clients were served and fitted individually, couture salons incorporated boutiques selling early incarnations of readymade lines, plus perfumes and luxury goods designed to please their elite customers. Both couturiers’ salons, which were open only to private customers, and, during the show season, select store buyers and their boutiques used modern design and display techniques to demonstrate their fashion currency. In 1923, Madeleine Vionnet had her fashion house remodeled along sleek modernist lines, with classically inspired frescoes. While from the mid-1930s, Elsa Schiaparelli embarked on a series of Surrealist window displays which promoted the wit and fantasy of her designs. In each case, these artistic references related to the philosophy of their clothes and were echoed in their labeling, packaging, and advertising, producing a coherent house style for customers to identify with.

Couturiers needed to project an image of exclusivity which gave a luxurious aura to everything that bore their name. Although fashion was increasingly used as a tool to sell readymade clothing all over the world, many stores still felt that Paris was the key source of new styles. For example, American department stores and fashion houses sent buyers to the French capital each season to purchase a selection of ‘models’, outfits which they would be licensed to reproduce in limited numbers for their stores. These designs would have the highest fashion status in stores’ collections, and would be supplemented by designs based more loosely on Paris-led trends, as well as an increasing number of styles by native designers that diverged from French diktats. Buyers thus played a crucial role, as they needed to understand the fashion profile of the stores they represented and the desires of their customers. It was crucial to keep an ever-changing array of fashions on the shop floor. In 1938, Kenneth Collins, vice-president of Macy’s, addressed the Fashion Group, an organization dedicated to promoting fashion in America, stating that: . . . it is one of the truisms of retailing that the difference between success and failure in the fashion business is dependent upon the ability of merchants rapidly to get into new fashions and just as rapidly to get out of them when they are on the wane.

This turnover of novel styles was fundamental to the fashion industry. Big department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue would have a number of lines targeted at different consumers. From 1930, it had its own luxurious creations designed by the owner’s wife, Sophie Gimbel, under the Salone Moderne label, plus fashions she had chosen for the store in Paris. It then had various ready-to-wear lines, including sportswear and clothes aimed at young college girls, as well as comparable menswear styles. In combination, these collections built Saks’ fashion reputation, demonstrating the store’s taste and discernment in dressing the full scope of its customer base. These were sold in specially defined areas of the store to reflect their audience and purpose, and advertised in fashion magazines and newspapers at key points in the year to optimize sales.

During the Depression, many stores had to stop visits to Paris and became increasingly reliant on homegrown fashions. Despite the economic downturn, fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar continued to carry advertisements for shops of all sizes. Columns such as ‘Shop-Hound’ in Vogue’s various national editions encouraged women to make shopping trips, mapping out the ‘best’ areas to visit and the chicest boutiques and department stores to go to. Designers and stores cultivated close relationships with the fashion media through their press representatives, who worked to obtain advertising and editorial coverage in magazines.

These connections continued in subsequent decades. However, the Second World War, and the continuing deprivations it caused, interrupted the flow and availability of goods. Despite shortages and rationing in most countries involved in the conflict, the dream of consumer goods was held out in many countries as a morale-boosting vision of the future.

As economies recovered during the 1950s, new initiatives began to develop. One of the key examples of this was the growth of designer-owner boutiques that appeared in London by the end of the decade. These demonstrated how fashion could evolve from small-scale entrepreneurs who understood their audience and the kind of clothes they wanted to wear. In 1955, for example, Mary Quant was prompted to open Bazaar on London’s King’s Road by her own frustration with the contemporary fashion scene:

I had always wanted the young to have fashion of their own . . . absolutely twentieth-century fashion . . . but I knew nothing about the fashion business. I didn’t think of myself as a designer. I just knew that I wanted to concentrate on finding the right clothes for the young to wear and the right accessories to go with them.

Quant produced fun clothes: baby-doll dresses, corduroy knickerbockers, and fruit-coloured pinafores, which helped to shape the style of the period. She and her peers spawned imitators across the globe, eager to capitalize on the trend for youth-driven, mass-produced clothes. Quant also provided a template for future designer-retailers, who would develop global reputations by dressing emerging youth cultures. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren’s shop, also on the King’s Road, changed its exterior and interior design, as well as the look of the clothes it sold, in line with evolving street styles. From Teddy boy-inspired suiting as Let It Rock in the early 1970s, through hardcore Punk aesthetics in mid-1970s Seditionaries and Sex, to its final incarnation as World’s End, an Alice in Wonderland-style boutique with wildly sloping floor and backwards-running clock.

Westwood’s design and retailing style were part of the fluidity of subculture. Styles emerged and shifted as the music, street, and art scene they were connected with moved on. This flexibility created an exciting sense of community and currency around her store, promoted by the DIY ethos of subcultures. As with Quant in the 1960s, it demonstrated how like-minded shops could group together to generate business and consolidate the fashion reputation of an area. In the early 21st century, Alphabet City in New York saw a similar constellation of designer-makers opening up in close proximity.

Indeed, Spanish chain Zara, which is known for its mix of classic and catwalk-inspired pieces, has based its success on a strategic version of this more organic development of shopping areas. Since opening its first store in 1975, Zara has expanded internationally, overtaking its main rivals on the high street. Each store is designed to look like a boutique, with themed garments grouped together with accessories, suggesting possible outfits to consumers. The chain is owned by Inditex, which includes Massimo Dutti, Bershk.. Zara’s stores look like boutiques, and lure customers in with open frontages and carefully coordinated displays and Zara Home in its portfolio. Its strategy is to open a large Zara shop first, which acts like a flagship, visually stating the ethos of the label, then branches of its other brands are launched close by. This encourages shoppers to walk between the shops, buying from Inditex’s different labels and seeing how the clothes, accessories, and soft furnishings sold in each complement one another. Allied to this is Zara’s quick response to fashion trends, with a small design team and close-knit manufacturing system, which allows new styles to be spotted and rapidly translated into new garments that reach the stores soon after they have been identified.

Other international brands have relied on their own design teams’ ability to create affordable fashions, combined with celebrity and high-fashion collections. H&M has commissioned a series of lines from designers including Viktor and Rolf, Stella McCartney, and Karl Lagerfeld, as well as music stars Madonna and Kylie Minogue. These collaborations usually last for a limited period only, creating huge media coverage, and swarms of shoppers queuing to buy each collection as it is launched.

The success of this approach is similar to couturiers’ ready-to-wear lines and licences in the 20th century. The aura of high fashion is used to enhance the status of various mass-market stores, from America’s Target chain to Britain’s New Look. Perhaps the most famous collaboration of this kind has been between model Kate Moss and Topshop, the British chain store that has led the way in high-street fashion since the late 1990s. This has seen an interesting exploitation of a star’s personality, style, and aura of exclusivity into a regular range for the brand’s branches across the world.

These clothes mimicked items from Moss’s own wardrobe of vintage and designer fashions. Moss herself is also a brand, used to market the range, and even to inspire decorative devices, including the twin swallow tattoos she has on her back which have decorated everything from jeans to blouses. This takes the connection between celebrity and fashion, which had been apparent since at least the 18th century, further than ever before.

This collaboration is demonstrative of the ever more blurred line between luxury and mass fashion since the late 20th century. In Britain, Kate Moss’s collection is sold in Topshop’s own high-street stores, and is therefore seen as part of a fashion-led, but undeniably mass-produced, world of throwaway fashions.

However, in New York, the range was launched in exclusive fashion specialty store Barney’s, giving it the air of an exclusive, luxury label that was sold alongside established high-fashion designers from across the globe.

This confusion between high and mass fashion is the result of the growing strength of ready-to-wear fashions over the past 150 years, and the strong fashion-led design ethos of high-street lines. As consumers have become more comfortable mixing vintage, designer, and cheap high-street and market finds together, the divisions between these categories has, to a certain extent, collapsed. Although prices still provide the most obvious difference, more emphasis is placed upon consumers’ ability to put together an interesting and individual outfit than to adhere to fixed ideas of what is respectable. This change has not just come from the high street. Since the 1980s, luxury brands have extended their reach, moving from the elite confines of small boutiques to build huge flagship stores in major cities, as well as allowing their goods to be sold in duty-free shops and shopping centres specializing in knockdown price, old-season fashions.

In the late 20th century, luxury brands such as Gucci developed into huge conglomerates and quickly identified the Far East as the key market for their goods. Stores were opened both in mainland Japan and Korea, for example, but also in places where fashion-conscious people holidayed. Hotels in destinations including Hawaii hosted luxury boutiques where young, affluent Japanese women would shop. Blanket advertising campaigns balanced references to the exclusive heritage of brands such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton with a cutting-edge fashion image bolstered by the appointment of young designers, in these cases Christopher Bailey and Marc Jacobs.

Online fashion stores, including high-end website net-a-porter.com, have made it even easier to purchase these fashions. Many of these follow a magazine format, with exclusive offers, news and style advice, photographs and film clips from the latest collections, and suggestions about how to create an outfit, all with links to buy the items seen. By the early 21st century, the East was the centre of both mass and luxury fashion. It was manufacturing its own lines, as well as those for much of the rest of the world, and its increasingly wealthy citizens were keen to shop for fashions too. Tom Ford, who had made his name as creative director first of Gucci and then Yves Saint Laurent, felt this marked a fundamental shift in the international balance of fashion. In Dana Thomas’s book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre, he is quoted as commenting that:

this is the century of emerging markets . . . We are finished here in the West – our moment has come and gone. This is all about China and India and Russia. It is the beginning of the reawakening of cultures that have historically worshipped luxury and haven’t had it for so long.

However, the globalization of various aspects of the fashion industry has raised ethical issues concerning, on the one hand, the potential exploitation of labour when manufacturing occurs far from the managerial centre of a company, and on the other, concerns about the homogenizing effects of consumer society, with big brands dominating so much of the world.

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