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Thursday, June 11, 2015

American Fashion: The Influence and the Legacy

I love travel and completely appreciate the unique qualities of other cultures, but there is something very unique about fashion in America. The way we are usually first to set trends, develop business practices, and lead the industry in creating events and awards, has made this country the leader of the global fashion industry. America’s influence in fashion is unmatched creatively and commercially and I am dedicating this post to America and all that it brings to the industry…

Anna Wintour

Although fashion as an art form and expression of style, class, and luxury began in Paris, I believe fashion as a business, innovator, and cultural influencer started in America. In 1892, Vogue was founded to give the wealthy members of society a publication that was essentially a chronicle of their lives. From what they wore, where they socialized, and what they should buy next Vogue set the standard. The publication specifically and unapologetically spoke to the upper echelon of fashion, and it was this exclusivity and idea of “it’s not for everyone” that allured people to become interested in fashion over the years. This is why people buy luxury fashion to own a piece of the mystery and fantasy. Through it’s long list of chief editors Vogue has directed the industry on what people should wear and has decided who is culturally important in society from artists to writers, actresses, designers, and socialites. Through the 90’s and 2000’s Anna Wintour established actresses as icons of beauty, allowing the roles they play and who they truly are off screen to create a dichotomy of real and fantasy that continues to play out in the magazine’s approach today. From heralding the inclusion of fashion bloggers into the fold of fashion’s media to endorsing street style photographers, and embracing the rise and dominance of social media. Wintour has taken a publication that served America’s elite and made the fantasy relatable to all women whether you’re a part of a royal family or a savvy business exec.

Vogue February 2011 photographed by Mario Testino

American brands are some of the most successful in the business. Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, and Tory Burch are all lifestyle brands that have amassed its founders/designers a personal fortune of over a billion dollars. To the industry’s appreciation and at times dismay American brands are genius at the high-low strategy and have a keen ability of making their brand available to consumers at all price levels of the retail spectrum. And no brand has done this better than Ralph Lauren, the ultimate American brand. From Lauren by Ralph Lauren to Ralph Lauren Collection the brand’s name holds significance in all retail tiers from Macy’s to Bergdorf Goodman because of how the integrity of the brand doesn’t change no matter where it’s being sold. It’s the development and commitment to brand identity that keeps brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, and Diane Von Furstenberg relevant for decades. Because of the constant expression of the brand’s personality as the consumer you feel as though you’ve taken this journey with them from the birth of the wrap dress to the 40 year anniversary of the iconic silhouette. Watching Michael Kors become a billion dollar brand after starting in the business as a salesperson/ window dresser. The stories of these designers are a reflection of the American hustle that is ingrained in many of us who are from here or have come to this country in hopes of establishing a life beyond that which we were born into.

“The road to success is not easy to navigate, but with hard work, drive and passion, it's possible to achieve the American dream.” – Tommy Hilfiger

There is a level of energy, innovation, and business acumen that exists in America because of the belief in hard work and each American brand’s expertise in balancing fantasy with being relatable. Today it is all about developing and conveying brand personality and American brands have captured the attention of the global industry for many decades and will continue to do so as the industry itself continues to evolve.

What’s your favorite American brand and why? Share in the comments!

Vogue March 2012 photographed by Craig McDean

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