How can I learn about the workings of the fashion industry?
May 6, 2011 2:11 PM   Subscribe

How can I learn about the workings of the fashion industry?

I'm curious about the fashion industry. Who are the different players and what do they do and how do they interrelate? For example, what does a fashion designer do, exactly? How does the designer relate to the store owner? How do stores decide which clothes to buy? What role do magazines play?

Who decides what's fashionable and how do their decisions get executed?

Is Calvin Klein an actual person? (I know I could Google that one -- I'm just trying to give a sense of current level of information.)

The fashion media isn't very useful for answering this because it's all insider stuff aimed at consumers or people who are already experts.

I'm looking for more of an outsider's view explaining what the pieces are and how they fit together.

My question:

Is there a good book, documentary, or some other source of information on this topic?

There's a book called Seven Days in the Art World that's like what I'm after. Is there a similar book about fashion?
posted by eeby to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The September Issue. Fantastic--follows Anna Wintour and her team at Vogue putting together the eponymous issue (i.e., the big issue of the season).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:17 PM on May 6, 2011

I would honestly recommend watching "The Devil Wears Prada" which gives a nice intro into how high-fashion becomes mass-level trendy, drops the names of some famous and upcoming designers, and shows how the role magazines play in glamorizing and popularizing fashion.
posted by hepta at 2:17 PM on May 6, 2011

There are also websites such as Vogue.Com which have higher-level (knowledge-wise) stuff regarding fashion happenings. If you delve into it, I am sure you will find the world of fashion bloggers helpful and informative too, just ignore the stuff you don't get at first and with repeated exposure the names, styles, trends, etc will all start to make more sense both as pieces and part of the whole.
posted by hepta at 2:19 PM on May 6, 2011

Calvin Klein is a real person, he graduated from my college, although some firms retain the name of a long-gone designer (Chanel, or more recently, McQueen)

The blog Tom and Lorenzo does fashion critiques and you end up picking up a lot of information of how the industry works - it's a light enough tone that even outsiders can jump in.
posted by The Whelk at 2:23 PM on May 6, 2011

Dana Thomas' book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster explains the cycle of wholesale to retail pretty well.
And Women's Wear Daily is the bible of the rag trade. It's not about fashion, it's about selling.

And there's How Fashion Works: Couture, Ready-to-Wear and Mass Production.

And if you're really into it, there's the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:28 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

There was a good documentary on PBS a few years back called The Secret World of Haute Couture if you want the scoop on how the really high end stuff works.
posted by lovecrafty at 6:20 PM on May 6, 2011

There's a documentary called Signe Chanel that you can watch on YouTube (subtitled in English) that's great if you want to learn about Haute Couture. It shows Lagerfeld designing, the patternmakers, the seamstresses, the woman who makes the trim (the very famous trim) in her friggin' barn! It's tres fabulous!
posted by vespabelle at 12:11 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers, everyone. I look forward to checking that stuff. That Wintour doco looks really interesting.
posted by eeby at 12:31 PM on May 8, 2011

More on the documentary front: there was one that came out last year called "Valentino: The Last Emporer" that detailed the workings of the fashion house and of the life of Valentino Garavani. It was extremely interesting, as much for the fashion details as the biography.
posted by amicamentis at 6:05 AM on May 9, 2011

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