Streetnotes is a peer-reviewed journal for the interdisciplinary study of the city, its lifeways and social relations, with a special concern for the cultural and aesthetic forms that arise through its traffic.
Volume 20, 2012
Streetnotes 20: Fashioning the Global City
Special issue edited by Claudia Brazzale
“Fashioning the Global City” turns the focus of Streetnotes on the relationship between cities and fashion to explore how the cultural and material production of style informs and performs urban lives and places.
Streetnotes 20 Front Matter
Introduction to Streetnotes 20: Fashioning the Global City
Cosmopolitanism has become a potent means through which the fashion industry captures value in the global economy. Recognizing the selling power of a cosmopolitan imaginary, the provincial clothing firms of North East Italy actively cultivate associations with global cities— drawing from their flow of people, cultures, images, and ideas—to absorb their urban edge and worldly aura. Located in predominantly rural areas far from established fashion centers, these firms symbolically capture the urbs through distribution, communication, and marketing strategies that endorse cities’ mythologies of modernity and excitement. Using stratagems centered around metropolitan cosmopolitanism, firms like Benetton and Diesel—prototypes of the industrial system of the region—skillfully transformed their labels into trendy "cosmobrands" and gained a central place in the topography of transnational fashion networks.
Each of the world’s major fashion capitals has a unique and enduring identity that has in part been established through its photographic representation. Fashion magazines and advertisements have re-presented Paris, London, New York and Milan as cities at the fore-front of style and taste, not least by accessorizing fashion with iconic monuments and streetscapes. This paper questions the rhetorical devices used by photographers to establish fashion capitals as style sites. It will argue that this lexicon is so successful in representing cities as objects of fashion that locations not immediately associated with high-fashion status have been similarly posed so as to parti-cipate in the symbolic economy attributed to the renowned global fashion capitals.
In analyzing fashion photographs of Melbourne from the 1950s and 60s this paper will establish that two conflicting images of the fashion city were prevalent in the metropolis’ self-imaging at this time. Specifically, this paper contends that Paris and New York shaped the aesthetic and cultural aspirations of the city as well as inspiring the fashion photographers Bruno Benini, Henry Talbot and Helmut Newton. This paper will explore how alternate photographic fashion narratives—Paris as elegant and romantic, and New York as dynamic and modern—helped to cement Melbourne as Australia’s fashion capital during this period.
This article examines a new kind of European identity, which it argues has emerged from Berlin's approach to street-style.
This article examines the reciprocal relationships between African cities and their fashion. Until recently, fashion capitals in the West like Paris, London and New York were perceived as being the only leading trend-setting places for global fashion design. The fact that besides these "key urban centers" (Breward 2011) a number of fashion cities have developed in Africa, which contain the networks and necessary infrastructure destined to produce, distribute and present fashion for local and international consumers, has been neglected so far. The article addresses this neglect by comparing three case studies on fashion designers from Johannesburg, Lagos and Douala and focusing on questions about urbanity and fashion as cultural practices. The article highlights the specific local contexts and urban dynamics of these cities, which provide a constant source of inspiration to the designers considered. Every city possesses its own historical, cultural, social and political context and networks which become represented in fashion. At the same time, the article strives to understand how fashion —from production to representation—positions itself in the urban landscape reinterpreting and transforming it. The three case studies are Stoned Cherrie from Johannesburg (South Africa), Buki Akib from Lagos (Nigeria) and Jules Wokam with Too’maii from Douala (Cameroun).
On February 25, 2011, the fashion luxury company Christian Dior suspended John Galliano, who had been its creative director since 1996, after his arrest over making anti-Semitic remarks at a Paris bar. Quickly following his suspension, a video from December 2010 was distributed showing Galliano hurling anti-Semitic invectives at several bar patrons. On March 1, 2011, Dior fired Galliano. At stake in the considerable interest and speculations regarding who takes over at Dior is control of a €24.6B business empire and access to a historic couturier’s archive. In this sense, its designer will influence the label’s "books" both financial and what will be stored in its physical repository as part of the brand’s creative and artistic repertoire. Despite fashion’s apparent ubiquity, the anticipation surrounding who takes over at Dior is proof that despite fashion’s professed democratization, there still exists a fashion hierarchy with Dior occupying its upper echelon. Since Galliano’s dismissal, fashion insiders have moved from breathlessly feverish in their speculations to desperately calling out for relief in the face of an unexpectedly drawn-out waiting game that is now over a year old and otherwise an eternity in fashion’s hyper accelerated production cycle. To purposely counter fashion’s accelerated internal clock, the purpose of this commentary is to keep fashion in a reflective state rather than a reflexive stance and uses fashion on film, and specifically Robert Altman’s Prêt-à-Porter (1994), to give cultural and historical context to all the online speculation and chatter. Altman’s film is the fractal, or the repeating pattern, in a dramatized form, as well as the cultural archive against which to examine the entangled relations of the designer Marc J
This study, supported by public observation, interviews, and analysis of Japanese fashion and nail magazines, looks at the role of the Tokyo nail industry in the shaping of Japanese women's bodies. I particularly investigate how, through the lens of the nail industry, issues surrounding class, race, and femininity are played out in Tokyo today. The visible gap between women who can afford, either economically or socially, to wear extreme forms of nail art publically marks women as culturally acceptable or socially transgressive.
Susan B. Kaiser discusses fashion and the city, including its geography of consumption and production, the relation between street style and the fashion industry, and how sartorial experimentation relates to social change.
Susan B. Kaiser is Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Textiles and Clothing, and the Cultural Studies Graduate Group, at the University of California at Davis. Her research and teaching interface between the fields of fashion studies and feminist cultural studies. Recent and current research addresses shifting articulations of masculinities; issues of space/place (i.e., rural, urban, suburban); and possibilities for critical fashion studies through popular and political cultural discourses. She is the author of
The Social Psychology of Clothing (1997) and Fashion and Cultural Studies (forthcoming), and over 90 articles and book chapters in the fields of textile/fashion studies, sociology, gender studies, cultural studies, popular culture, and consumer behavior. She is a Fellow and Past President of the International Textile and Apparel Association, and was the first Nixon Distinguished Professor/Lecturer at Cornell University. She is currently organizing a critical fashion studies working group in the University of California system.
A memorial to Wang Xiaojin including an exhibition of his photographs, taken on walks in the Bronx, Chinatown, and around New York City.