Designing Clothes: Culture and Organization of the Fashion Industry
Fashion is all around us: we see it, we buy it, we read aboutit, but most people know little about fashion as a business.Veronica Manlow considers the broader signifi cance offashion in society, the creative process of fashion design,and how fashion unfolds in an organizational contextwhere design is conceived and executed. To get a trueinsider's perspective, she became an intern at fashiongiant Tommy Hilfi ger. Th ere, she observed and recordedhow a business's culture is built on a brand that is linkedto the charisma and style of its leader.
Fashion firms are not just in the business of sellingclothing along with a variety of sidelines. Th ese companiesmust also sell a larger concept around which people canidentify and distinguish themselves from others. Manlowdefi nes the four main tasks of a fashion fi rm as creationof an image, translation of that image into a product,presentation of the product, and selling the product. Eachof these processes is interrelated and each requires theeff orts of a variety of specialists, who are often in distantlocations. Manlow shows how the design and presentationof fashion is infl uenced by changes in society, bothcultural and economic. Information about past sales andreception of items, as well as projective research informsdesign, manufacturing, sales, distribution, and marketingdecisions.
Manlow offers a comprehensive view of the ways inwhich creative decisions are made, leading up to the creationof actual styles. She helps to defi ne the contributionfashion fi rms make in upholding, challenging, or redefi ningthe social order. Readers will fi nd this a fascinatingexamination of an industry that is quite visible, but littleunderstood.
Veronica Manlow is assistant professor inthe Department of Economics at BrooklynCollege.