In 1954, French couturier Hubert de Givenchy designed this dress with fabrics containing synthetic fibers made by the American chemical giant, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Fashion production is a complex process involving many actors, from big business to haute couturiers. Image, courtesy of the Hagley Museum & Library.


Who created fashion, and why? How did Paris, the world's fashion capital, influence Milan, New York, and Tokyo? Scholars have often asked these fascinating questions, but few have examined the historical role of business and commerce in creating the international market for style goods. Producing Fashion is a groundbreaking anthology that shows how economic institutions in Europe and North America laid the foundation for the global fashion system, and sustained it commercially through the mechanisms of advertising, licensing, marketing, publishing, and retailing.

Producing Fashion reveals how public and private institutions--from government censors in Imperial Russia to large corporations in the United States--worked to shape fashion, style, and taste, with varying degrees of success. Fourteen contributors draw on original research and offer fresh insight on the producers of fashion--advertising agents, architects, beauticians, corporate executives, department stores, designers, editors, government officials, haute couturiers, and Web retailers--in their bid for shoppers' dollars, and show how consumers reacted.

Producing Fashion is broadly framed to put both high-end styles and mass-market designs under the microscope. Have you ever wondered how the Christian Dior label, once an elite brand, found its way into Saks Fifth Avenue? Who crafted the Marlboro Man into a symbol of American masculinity? Why do Americans dress down in high-tech Lycra fabrics--and wax nostalgically for quaint, old-fashioned Victorian cottages? Producing Fashion looks to the past and reveals the rationale behind these choices, and shows how the interplay of custom, invented traditions, and sales imperatives drove innovation in the style industries. This book is a must read for anyone who works in the global fashion industry, or who just wants to understand what has made the fashion system tick.