The legacy of Italian fashion

The legacy of Italian fashion

Today Italy, in particular Milan, is viewed as one of the main fashion capitals of the world. Emerging around the 1960s as competition to Paris who had long reigned as the the place to be for designers and dedicated fashion followers. Symbolising the rivalry between the two countries, legendary designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli began a lifelong feud, after Schiaparelli dared to stage her atelier in Paris to the disgust of Chanel who viewed chic classic elegance over the abstract shocking garments of Schiaparelli, even refusing to speak her name referring to her only as “The italian artist who makes clothes” despite this Elsa Schiaparelli went on to become one of the most influential designers of her time paving the way for Italy to produce what would be some of the biggest designers in fashion history.

Brands such as Versace, Armani, Gucci, Moschino and many more found their beginnings in Italy during the late 20th century, going on to become the giant fashion houses they still are today. Gianni Versace for example saw the hight of his career in the 90s with the obsession with 90s supermodels fuelling the desire for Versace garments. One of the first designers to use celebrities in such a massive way to include fashion in popular culture and with his bold pattern centred designs created a bolder image for Italian fashion.

Although logos on designer garments were popularised by Coco Chanel using her ‘CC’ initials in 1925 there was an extreme surge in popularity of having a designer branded item from clothing to cars and even baby strollers with a largo logo displayed around the 1990’s brands such as fendi, Gucci and luis Vuitton thrived in thus time creating more and more items plastered with their signature logo for the wealthy to buy. However like with many designer items the demand and desire for them lead to copies and fakes finding their way into the market for the lower classes who wouldn’t normally be able to afford their favourite luxury brands could now proudly display them across their chests. This lead to a lot of companies realising the untapped market and beginning to sell large logo branded items for a slightly lower price such as bags, wallets and T-shirts. However having large branded items quickly fell out of favour with the more wealthy customers who did not want to be associated with the lower classes, often branded as gauche or ‘chavvy’

When logos were no longer the status statement they once were many designers realised they had become lazy with their garments, slapping a giant logo on a plain T-shirt and mass producing and began feeling the heat that wasn’t from the Italian sun. With many of their older client base not liking these new designs and many of their younger client base no longer being able to afford even lower end luxury items after the pandemic and cost of living crisis, companies faced having to reevaluate the way they design and produce.

The brands that were relying on their bold identifying print and logos began to reinvent theirselves in a newer more simplistic way both to relate back to their older customer base as well as the emerging newer customer base idolising ‘influencers’ and celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid who avoid ‘tacky’ branding. A great example of this working out is Pradas miumiu, considered the affordable alternative to Prada for the younger generation that doesn’t have the same amount of money. Within 3 months retail sales of the Italian luxury label grew 42% year on year following its Fall 2023 fashion show.

“made in Italy” 

Italy has produced some of the most rewound designers in the history of fashion and continues to produce upcoming brands. To this day the label “made in Italy” on a piece of clothing all but ensures good quality (and usually a higher price tag) due to the attention to detail and access to quality materials such as leather.


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