The End of Fashion: The Mass Marketing Of The Clothing Business

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9780688151607: The End of Fashion: The Mass Marketing Of The Clothing Business

Fashion is a multibillion-dollar international business; it permeates our lives and our economies. Yet there has never been a book of solid, hard-hitting, uncompromising business/cultural/social journalism on this subject--because the fashion press is subsidized by the very industry it covers.

Teri Agins, however, covers the fashion beat for a publication that does not rely upon fashion advertising--and she is thereby uniquely unfettered and able to finally tell the whole truth about this gigantic, flamboyant, and endlessly fascinating business.

Her book traces an arc from the origins of couture and its apotheosis in the early part of this century to the advent of prjt-a-porter post.World War II and the sweeping changes that have taken place as the century ends. It is an arc from when "fashion" was defined by elite French designers whose clothes could be afforded only by the global socialites--but whose designs were copied and followed by everyone else--to the point where the rules are set by the consumers, and the designers must follow them. It is an arc from class to mass; from art to commodity. Above all, it is the story of the triumph of marketing.

The narrative includes profiles of designers Emmanuel Ungaro, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, and Zoran, as well as retailers Marshall Field and the Gap.The End of Fashion is classy and stylish, filled with insider details; it is dishy and lively and fun--as well as astute and full of insights about how the changes in the fashion business have reflected changes in the culture over the last fifty years.

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About the Author:

Teri Agins has covered the fashion business at The Wall Street Journal for ten years and lives in New York City. This is her first book.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The heady days of haute couture are passing, says Wall Street Journal reporter Agins, and are being followed by name-brand mass marketing. The great fashion houses, one gathers from her report, are fading in an excess of hauteur. In a text that is more knowing than it is dishy and more respectful than it need be, Agins shows that some emperors of the garment trade are not that well decked out. She gets down to business in the odd world of $10,000-a-day supermodels and wealthy fashionistas, garmentos and knock-off artistes, beginning with the fall of Paris, the capital of high fashion, where style, not substance, had been all. But baby boomer career women let go of fashion; most people eschewed fancy dress; fashion was valued less than before; and top designers abandoned originality. ``Bridge'' goods (less pricey apparel) took hold. Boutiques replaced the top ateliers. Widespread licensing of T-shirts, briefs, and fragrances and the sale of signatures was followed by street vendor forgeries. Now, to express individuality, everyone may wear the same garments, on which only the names are changed. And the names drop like confetti. The story is traced through various players, from Armani to Ungaro and Zoran. Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger) try to capture the flag for their own logos. As Donna Karan discovered when she went to Wall Street, fashion's connection to the real world is frequently tenuous. It is chi-chi and edgy, frou-frou and funky and up-to-here with arrant snobbery. Businesslike and entertaining as the discussion of the upscale rag trade is, the real contribution of high style practitioners is simply assumed, not made evident. A reader may want to call for a pox on all the fashion houses (which is probably not the author's plan). Here, backstage in a special industry, is a knowledgeable reporter's tale of marketing ... la mode. (8 pages photos, not seen). -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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