For centuries European culture has led the world in design with most countries basing modern fashion, style, interior design and architecture on European standards. Too the world’s business models and lifestyle goals are heavily influenced by the European standard. This is all thanks to Europe’s dominance in the political, economic and social spaces.
But in the wake of dramatic political and economic changes in countries like North America global country alliances are changing. For example China has built partnerships with multiple countries in Africa with China investing billions in infrastructure. And these countries have created trade agreements for consumer goods and services. But more importantly from a social standpoint, Chinese people and African people working and living together, learning more about each other’s cultures and lifestyle will logically lead to a mix of language, food, art and fashion.
This is a big deal for the European fashion markets that have invested heavily abroad in places like China and Africa. European fashion standards are very influential in both locations. China and countries in Africa have experienced colonization by European countries and up until now European fashion was perceived as having left an indelible mark. But with this new partnership, that belief will wane.
This all seems to be lost on European fashion designers. Big brands seem oblivious to the changing world or the new global alliances. London and Paris especially are failing to acknowledge their wide range of consumers, and both are multi-cultural cities with large international hubs and strong global fashion exports to developed countries. Instead European designers are nostalgic for an older time, regurgitating the same trends on the same types of models from the last 40 years.
It begs the question, is Europe becoming stagnant? Or is the world changing beyond European fashion?
New York may very well become the new standard of global fashion. This season designers turned to their tribes over a fixed “trend” which led to multiple fashion ideas that felt more globally inspired. It made for a more inclusive idea of fashion while maintaining a strong USA aesthetic.
Icons of NYFW style were change makers in the political and cultural landscape, young and old- but they were icons living today. And there was a strong African and Asian influence at New York Fashion Week.
This doesn’t mean European fashion wasn’t present in New York, it was, but it wasn’t the main focus for fashion design. And this isn’t a bad thing. New York presented more forms of beauty, more model forms and shapes, more distinct models of age than ever before.
At the end of the day Europe will have to decide if it wants to become a niche design aesthetic in the larger fashion market or continue to lead the design aesthetic. If Europe wants to stay in the lead, it will need to become more inclusive.
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