- Don-Alvin Adegeest |
Vektor from Berlin, House of Cannon from Australia, Raissa & Vanessa from Istanbul and Two Legged Creatures from Amsterdam. Their names are not likely to be familiar, but they are all on-schedule, bonafide catwalk designers who show their seasonal collections in their country's local fashion weeks, far away from London, Paris, New York, and Milan.
Countless of fashion weeks are being organised around the globe, from Amsterdam to Lakme in Mumbai, not to mention New Zealand, Buenos Aires, Riyadh, Warsaw, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Pakistan, Los Angeles and Lagos to name but a few. The only difference between these and those in the four major fashion capitals, is that they receive little or no international press coverage.
92 designers showcased their collections at Lakme Fashion Week in India last week. Compare this to the 51 on-schedule designers at London Fashion Week. At Copenhagen's Fashion Week, which took place earlier this month, 29 designers took to the catwalk, along with two trade fair destinations and an array of on and off-schedule events. Both bring millions of euros of income to their respective cities and countries, but little resonates with the fashion elite.
In Denmark, Copenhagen's fashion export business is worth a staggering 22.9 billion DKK, or 3 billion euros. That doesn't account for its domestic market, which together totals over 40 billion DKK, 5.37 billion euros. The country's major export markets are Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Arguably countries also off the main fashion grid.
The fashion grid, or precisely the fashion we identify as the luxury industry, hails from Europe: or to be exact Paris, Milan and London. Antwerp and Arnhem may be cities noted for their brilliant fashion institutions, but young graduates are quick to intern at the major fashion houses in one of the aforementioned capitals.
A Fashion capital is a city where design generates economic output
Why? Because a fashion capital is a city which has a major influence on international fashion trends and in which the design and events such as fashion weeks, awards and trade fairs generate significant economic output. This output is what drives the industry.
Historically, the fashion capitals were elsewhere. During the Renaissance era, it was Florence, Milan, Rome, Naples, Genoa, and Venice, the cultural powerhouses of the time. Progressing into the late 16th century, London became a major city in European fashion. Similarly, due to the power of Spain during this period, the Spanish court started to influence fashion, in turn making it a major centre. In the 17th century Paris established itself as Europe's main fashion centre. Since then, little appears to have changed.
Copenhagen ranks as number one fashion capital
Interestingly, an annual ranking of the leading fashion capitals produced by Global Language Monitor, a US-based company that tracks trends through language use worldwide, saw Copenhagen as the leading fashion capital of the world. In recent times, new fashion hubs have emerged worldwide, and the old order has faced challenges from all corners of the globe, including Africa, Australasia and South America. This is why local fashion weeks are integral to communities and industry as whole, even if their platforms are smaller or create less reverb.
China, Bangladesh, India, Turkey and Vietnam are the top five garment manufacturing nations in the world. It is likely that 75 percent of your wardrobe originates from one of these countries. But little is known about its local designers, many whom are talented and could possibly have had a hand in creating the garment you are wearing now.
The fact is, young people who dream of becoming a designer, opt to study in Paris, New York, London or Milan, because that is where they get recognised and can gain a foothold in the industry. They are not likely to become household names by studying at the local comprehensive or getting an internship at a factory. Neither is a young designer on-schedule in Mumbai or Kiev going to make huge waves across the industry.
But, with e-commerce and social media, there is thankfully some movement away from traditional fashion cities, showing us there is plenty of creativity, talent and worthwhile fashion to be considered from all over the world. Even if the rest of the world's column inches fail to mention them.
Photo credit: Amsterdam, Berlin, Lakme Fashion Weeks, Source: Facebook