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Turning Fashion into Business: The Emergence of Milan as an International Fashion Hub

  • Elisabetta Merlo (a1) and Francesca Polese (a2)

The Italian fashion industry rose to a position of international prominence in the second half of the twentieth century. An important factor in the sector's global success was the opening up of the international, particularly the American, markets. The changes that occurred within the fashion industry after World War II, most critically the end of the Parisian monopoly, offered opportunities that were exploited differently by the various competitors. While cities like London and New York managed to promote themselves as alternatives to Paris, Italy was initially unable to create a single fashion capital. Florence, Rome, and Milan felt themselves equally entitled to become the staging ground for Italian fashion production, but Milan, benefiting from certain features of its productive structure, eventually emerged as the winner. The city's success was based on a long, steady accumulation of resources and the ability to harness its creative and managerial capabilities. The result was Milan's emergence as a fashion “superstar” in the 1970s.

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Yuniya Kawamura , The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion (Oxford, 2004)

Angela McRobbie , British Fashion Design: Rag Trade or Image Industry? (London, 1998)

Nancy L. Green , Ready-to-Wear and Ready-to-Work: A Century of Industry and Immigrants in Paris and New York (Durham, N.C., 1997)

Norma Rantisi , “The Ascendance of New York Fashion,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 28 (Mar. 2004): 86106

Norma Rantisi , “The Local Innovation System as a Source of ‘Variety’: Openness and Adaptability in New York City's Garment District,” Regional Studies 36 (2002): 587602

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Business History Review
  • ISSN: 0007-6805
  • EISSN: 2044-768X
  • URL: /core/journals/business-history-review
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