Europe is taking over the contemporary fashion industry
When you think of the fashion industry, you tend to think of Fashion’s ‘Big Four’ – New York, London, Milan, and Paris. But fashion is spreading widely, the industry growing far beyond the industry’s ‘Big Four’ and its designers from all over the globe that are now taking up space in the fashion industry.
In the last five years, European fashion brands have taken over the contemporary market, the pieces from these brands offering a unique fit and aesthetic that is similar to fast fashion but with a more expensive look and feel. And although these brands aren’t new by any means, their popularity in urban areas and within the younger generation is on the rise. For example, check out H&M’s latest collection. Now compare it to an outfit from one of several popular Scandinavian clothing retailers: Weekday, Monki, Ganni or & Other Stories. You will easily see an aesthetic similarity.
So, why are these brands gaining so much momentum?
Well, believe it or not, they’re beating fast fashion at its own game while maintaining their sustainability standards and still offering high-quality clothing that looks great on a diverse range of body types. Contemporary independent fashion brands are often sold in the same stores as fast fashion or luxury brands, but at a price point that is much more affordable than luxury, and higher quality than fast fashion.
The one thing contemporary independent fashion brands have in common is that they are all so beautifully unique – and they often consider in their ethical and environmental standpoint. Similar to luxury fashion, contemporary independent designers often take into consideration the longevity of their garments, meaning that they can be worn for years without needing to be replaced. Unlike fast fashion retailers, they are not heavily influenced by trends which means they aren’t sucked into this disposable mindset that overconsumption has created.
This is especially true for Italian brands, which have been around since the early 20th century, their reputations handed down from one generation to another. European designers are known for their use of high-quality fabrics like cashmere and silk. While many import these materials from other countries such as China, they still prefer making things themselves instead of outsourcing production overseas so that they can retain control over quality control and ensure a certain level of craftsmanship goes into each product made by hand.
Why are European brands often rooted in sustainability?
Sourcing. European independent fashion brands often source locally, taking ideas from their culture or surrounding area. Their fabrics are also often sourced sustainably, with many using natural fabrics and processes that reduce waste. Local sourcing and sustainable production are important. For instance, the line Matière de Fil is made from 100 percent recycled denim in France; its founder inspired by a visit to Los Angeles’ garment district. And one of Europe’s most innovative brands, Oya Gönül, uses only organic cotton in Turkey – the brand’s first collection of dresses sold out within hours at Colette in Paris last summer. This focus on sustainability is not just good for the environment – it also means that these designers can sell their clothes at lower prices than fast fashion brands do—and still make money.
What contributes to the success of these designers?
For those in the fashion world, it’s hard to deny the impact that European designers have had on the industry. In fact, many of these designers operate independently and work with local artisans to create unique pieces made of high-quality fabric. This helps to keep jobs in their community and helps to revitalize their local economies. They do this by sourcing from local artisans and incorporating cultural elements of their locations into their designs.
European label Céline has a team of handbag artists who work year-round to create the designs for its seasonal collections. The brand also works closely with local artisans and weavers to source materials from all over Europe. This approach creates jobs in local communities, which is crucial as more people leave rural areas for cities.
Sustainability is at the heart of Madrid based label, Neutrale. The brand’s clothing is made from organic, natural and recycled materials, and they’re always on the hunt for the latest advances in sustainable production. Neutrale state that the purpose of their clothing “is to design timeless products that live outside the strenuous noise of the destructive fashion wheel.”
It’s clear that the fashion industry is pivoting in a new direction. The voices of young, contemporary independent designers are drowning out the churn of the fashion wheel and paving the way for a more ethical and sustainable industry. Who knows, we may soon see a new addition to Fashions ‘Big Four’.