Oh the power one woman holds in her hands. For the first time in more than five years, New York City has been dethroned as the world’s fashion capital. Global Language Monitor analyzes the latest trends in word usage and their cultural impact by tracking the Internet, blogs, social media sites such as Twitter and 75,000 print and electronic media, found that Kate Middleton and Alexander McQueen star gravitas’ tipped the scales in favor of London (I firmly believe that Kate’s dress designed by Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen’s label is chiefly responsible).
Although it is not unheard of to have slight fluctuations in the cities that perennially make the list (Milan, London, and Paris routinely compete for second place), taking down New York is a pretty big, and potentially costly, deal. The American city has historically been the epicenter for emerging and established designers, retailers, fashion editorial houses (read Anna Wintour) and buyers alike; essentially all of the key players required to play the fashion game at its best. However, there appears to be a couple of new players in town affecting the results: a princess and the proliferation of social media.
In the past, tracking word usage in order to rank subjects by order of cultural relevance relied heavily on formal and professional journalists, those individuals who had the power to get their written word in the international spotlight. Information sharing platforms like Twitter and Tumblr now allow anyone and everyone (even us here at UpMyAli) to express an opinion and have it counted among the masses in the determination of overall impact and message penetration. But, is it fair that the opinion of sixteen year old girl tweeting about how much she loves Kate’s Alexander McQueen wedding dress carry the same weight as that of an editor who employs research in expressing an educated opinion on the global business of fashion?
The simple answer is that it shouldn’t, but it does and the impact on the bottom line is obvious. When it comes to fashion, each of the Big Four (NYC, Milan, Paris and London) has an carefully crafted identity that is positioned, marketed and sold to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, major revenue for local governments. New York City is known for its powerhouse, ready to wear designers such as Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan. These industry leaders generally set the macro trends for the global fashion stage and often influence smaller, independent design labels as well. Milk Studios, has also strengthened NYC’s profile as supporting the next league of major designers by offering a less expensive, and frankly, cooler stage for up and coming designers including Joseph Altuzarra and Rodarte.
Milan a brand in and of itself, is internationally recognized as the capital for high quality, luxury labels such as Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabanna. Paris, for its unique ability to take everyday style and elevate it to a couture level, is often revered as the ‘best of the best’ in international fashion weeks by the industry elite (after all, can NYC’s Lincoln Center compare with the Louvre? Difficult. Very difficult.). Finally, London is the leader in discovering new fashion talent. Julien MacDonald, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen all profited from gained notoriety and opportunity from London’s open-minded outlook on design. The recent focus on the Middleton sisters and the non-stop media attention detailing what they wear for every trip to the office or supermarket has created an additional and undeniable link between the British capital city and fashion. Oh, and Tom Ford deciding to break his “I hate Fashion Week” stance and show his Spring Summer 2012 collection in London also helps. If London Fashion Week can survive the absence of top models from its runways (according to The Guardian, models prefer to walk in NY, Milan and even Madrid citing British designers extremely poor pay, not having increased model’s salaries since 1983), there is little in the visible future to impede continued global domination.
Without the benefit of the world’s biggest fashion influencer (sorry, Gaga’s fashion choices don’t sell out in minutes like the Zara dresses Kate favors), New York better find an alternative method of generating buzz and regaining its global fashion leadership position or be willing to sacrifice the $466 million in direct visitor spending generated by New York Fashion Week. For a city already facing massive budget deficits, fashion indeed is a very, very big deal.