If you've just stumbled onto this blog, please forgive the appearance; it's still under construction. If I've used one of your photos (found on Google) in a lecture and you don't approve, please write a comment and I'll remove it.

The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics of art and culture to English language learners in secondary school in Slovakia. This is not for profit. If you look to your right, you'll see a long list of topics that I plan to cover. This is a large project that will most likely take years to complete, covering some topics I know little about (like dance), so I will be borrowing heavily from other experts, with their permission, giving credit wherever possible. Please be patient, and, of course, all advice is greatly appreciated.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Fashion Industry: Major Labels and Magazines

Fashion Industry

Fashion is a global industry worth billions of dollars. Some of the biggest businesses, called fashion houses are in Paris, Milan, New York,and London.

New York Fashion Houses: Calvin Clein, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger

London Fashion Houses: Burberry, Mulberry

Paris Fashion Houses: Chanel, Dior, Givenchy (Živanšy), Vuitton, Yves St. Laurent (Ivej San Lauřan)

Milan Fashion Houses: Gucci, Armani, Versace, Prada, Dolce & Gabanna, Bennetton

Ø      Fashion designers who work for these houses are called in-house designers.
Ø      Other designers work freelance, meaning they work for themselves.
Ø      Some designers, or tailors, are commissioned to make clothing for just one person. Everything is measured to fit that customer. This process is called haute couture (ot kuťúř), French for high fashion.
Ø    In addition, fashion houses sell ready-to-wear clothing in standard sizes. They're not personally fitted, but still expensive and fairly exclusive.

Fashion Weeks

Ø      Every year these cities host fashion weeks where major houses and designers show off their latest creations with models on a runway.
Ø      They usually occur several months before the start of the season, so fall clothing is shown in spring and summer, while spring and summer clothing is shown in the fall. This gives all the critics, magazines, and customers time to choose what they want.

Ø      And, it makes these fashion houses trend-setters. This means they have the greatest influence on what is considered in and out of fashion.
Ø      Fashionistas (people who care about fashion) can look through giant magazines full of advertisements and photos of clothing. Famous magazines include:

Cosmopolitan (simply called Cosmo)



Mass Market Fashion

There are other clothing shops that sell at a lower price. Not known so much as trend-setters, they follow what's happening in the fashion world and offer nice clothes at a decent price. You can find them in many shopping centers in the US.

Examples include: Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer, Express, Gap, H. & M., J. Crew, and Victoria's Secret.

Fashion & Copyright Protection

Fashion houses and designers are often frustrated to see that some other company has copied their designs, and is selling them cheaply. The products are called knock-offs, meaning it's a fake, a thoughtless copy of an original.

Laws are always complex. Lawyer Oliver Herzfeld wrote a good article describing the legal rights of designers. Here's a summary:

Fashion designers have limited copyright protection. They can copyright their patterns and unique color combinations, but not the designs, or cut, of their clothing. The Legal community decided it would be too hard to argue, since the differences in clothing are so small, and it's impossible to say where most design ideas came from - who thought of it first, etc. Designers can patent (patentovať) any new clothing designs that are "not obvious", such as the fanny pack:

or the drinks hat:

But not clothing garments that are already widely known and sold. You can't patent a T-shirt. Also, it takes over a year to patent anything, by which time your new idea will probably already be out of fashion. the US Patent Office is trying to shorten the wait to 6 months, but that's in the future, and it's still not ideal.

So, how do fashion houses stay in business? In two ways, quality, and brand loyalty. Fashion houses use top quality materials and sewing techniques, so their clothes should last a long time. Then, they put their logo on the clothing which is protected by trademark. No one else can use their company logo legally. People are willing to spend lots of money on name brand clothing to impress people, helping fashion houses stay in business. But it is risky, and many famous brands have risked bankruptcy, even recently.


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