January 1st, 2014
Fashion, Fashion Discussion, Fashion News, London, New York, Paris
Fashion Discussion: Are The Rising Costs of Living in Fashion’s Global Capitals Destroying Creativity?
By Faith

While reading Sarah Kendzior’s “Expensive Cities Are Killing Creativity” opinion piece on AlJazeera.com, I couldn’t help but wonder how the soaring costs of living and big business in places like New York City, London, and Paris were directly impacting fashion.

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Like music or painting, fashion is art–at its foundation is creativity and the desire to transcribe new and cutting-edge ideas. Unfortunately, it seems as if that creativity is waning more and more with each new season. The fashion industry was already an impossible industry to break into, and it has become increasingly harder to do so, especially in the world’s fashion capitals. In order for a designer to make it, he or she has to have funding (which is extremely difficult to come by), traction with celebrities, and the piqued interest of editors, so that the brand can be seen by as many people as possible.

Anna Wintour at the Burberry Prorsum Fall 2012 show

Anna Wintour at the Burberry Prorsum Fall 2012 show

With the added pressures of all of the aforementioned at play, it’s pretty easy to see why a new designer would opt for what works and what will sell versus what it is creative. Fashion is, after all, a business from which companies need to profit–and sometimes creativity just isn’t all that creative. Gareth Pugh’s other worldly designs come to mind: they aren’t the least bit saleable or even functional, which is why they are often altered and adapted for real world wear. Going into his eighth year of business, Pugh continues to be one of the few who have been able to stick around with their original aesthetic in tact. So many brands have crumbled due to economic pressure in a world and cities where the cost of living and rents are just to much to bear.

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A look from Moschino’s Fall 2013 fashion show

I think there’s a similar conformity happening with editors and bloggers as well. Street style photographers snap the same fifty or so influencers in looks that are straight from the runway: most often borrowed or gifted. Thousands of onlookers peacock for the cameras each fashion week, but the same old heavy hitters are snapped season after season. These editors are the faces of their magazines, and there’s no doubt that a glossy’s standing with a brand rises when its employees are seen out in the house’s creations.
GIovanna Battaglia gray dress
The same goes for the blogging community, in which there are now thousands of different men and women profiling their style across the web on a daily basis. Despite such a slew of people to choose from, the credibility of most is predicated on the cosign of high-fashion brands and the toting of the season’s latest “It” accessories: most of which are way too expensive for the average person or even blogger to purchase. So many are flocking to cities like New York City and Los Angeles, which are hotbeds for fashion, but impossible to live in without a slew of sponsors, therein creating this kind of go-to formula for those who didn’t already have the means to wear Chanel and Christian Louboutin.

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Anna Dello Russo in Oscar de la Renta Spring 2014

I am a native New Yorker, so I know better than most how crippling the cost of living in this city can be for those doing creative things they love. As Kendzior states, “Creativity – as an expression of originality, experimentation, innovation – is not a viable product” and she couldn’t be more correct. As I stated before, fashion is a business and businesses do not thrive without money. People do not thrive without money, especially not in these big metropolitan cities where almost nothing is free. I see it in the brands that I write about on a weekly basis: the bigger have the means for more press releases and celebrities in their designs, while I literally have to seek out the smaller. Social media has done a great job of leveling the playing field, but there’s still a lot of economic inequity.

hanneli-mustaparta-paris-fashion-week-spring-2013

Hanneli Mustaparta at Paris Fashion Week Spring 2013

Though January 1st is just a new day, I’m hoping that the industry can soon get back to championing all things different and out of the box, so that there can at least be a balance with the mainstream. There aren’t any signs of the Big Apple or any of the world’s other fashion capitals becoming less expensive to live in, but hopefully fashion can once again become a beacon of that devotion to art and creativity that I believe it once was.

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What do you think? Are the rising costs of living in NYC, London, and Paris destroying fashion’s creativity?

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23 Responses to “Fashion Discussion: Are The Rising Costs of Living in Fashion’s Global Capitals Destroying Creativity?”

  1. Pri says:

    Good post Faith,

    It also doesn’t help that those who can afford to take multiple unpaid fashion internships or live in fashion hubs come from affluent backgrounds.

  2. DeeFresh says:

    Very interesting perspective I agree that there doesn’t seem to be a a lot of credible bloggers, just more bloggers. I saw a lot of comments last year aimed at FBD for mentioning certain celebrities like there was some sort of incentive to talk about Kim K a lot or Lala or Rih. A lot of people missed the point that you all work hard to support the underdogs and a lot of times the designers I now rock with were Cool Online Finds, not celebrity cosigns. I believe that the fact that EVERYONE (not shading any writers/bloggers) wants to be a blogger or have a fashion opinion is great but now it’s more about the money than the actual love of fashion and everyone doesn’t need to blog about FASHION. DO something else that brings light to creativity and help enlarge the scope of creativity online. I also agree with Pri: if you’re balling you really can hang around fashion houses for your own pure experience. Some people can’t and don’t want to risk the debt of moving to NY for fashions they can’t afford from folks who drive the rent up. While I loved NY when I visited, I hope that at some point the cost of being fashionable isn’t something that comes at the price of creativity.

  3. bhud says:

    it’s posts like these that separate this blog not only from other “multi-culti” fashion blogs, but ALL fashion blogs in general.

    y’all are serious bout your 2014!!!

  4. M-lisa says:

    I got excepted into FIT’s fashion design program for spring 2014, but will not be able to attend because I cannot afford the cost of living in New York City. FIT is my dream school, and I spent countless hours creating the admission’s portfolio. It’s a shame my tuition is covered, but I just can’t afford to live anywhere close enough to the campus. So, tomorrow I will have to call the admissions department and decline my acceptance. Sucks, to say the least.

  5. Yes says:

    Thanx faith for the post much need…I’m sorry m-Lisa I hope things change for you

  6. mo says:

    M-Lisa there are tons of other options opposed to living in the city( Manhattan). Looking into Brooklyn along the A-line or 4-line you’ll be at school within 30 mins and still have an opportunity to work on class work on the day!
    Trust me, I was born in brooklyn and went to Columbia…I, like you, could not afford living in manhattan and Harlem was not an option. You make it happen for your dreams!

  7. tt says:

    m-lisa, you better not decline FIT’s offer!!! the worst thing many of us do in life is give up on our dreams. you will regret it if you don’t accept. like mo said, there’s a way to make it work. good luck to you in 2014.

  8. Peaches says:

    M-lisa don’t give up go to Brooklyn to find someplace to live its only a short commute to Manhattan don’t forfeit your dream, the opportunity only comes once!

  9. Day says:

    @M-Lisa ,
    You can also consider Jersey which is also 30-45 mins away from FIT…sometimes we have to make that SACRIFICE in order to achieve our dreams and goals! How hard will you fight for you what you want mama…anything is possible! Good Luck!!!

  10. andie says:

    This post was so insightful and thought provoking. I hope you guys continue this line of work in 2014.

    The comments for M-Lisa are really inspiring as well.

  11. Erica says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. I believe that there are more people who just want to do things such as blogging because of the benefits they see others reap, but they don’t have the passion which in turns steer away the creativity and become just the norm. I, too dreamed of living in NYC and London in the future for fashion but the cost of living and the space that you get for your money is so ridiculous that I have pushed it out of my mind and I am now trying to create my passions in my small city. When I first began blogging I felt like I could not get out what I wanted in my site and I let it go, I have now relaunched it and as slow as it is coming along I just have to stick to what I want for it and not what everyone else would want just to get followers to notice me. It is about inspiring, uplifting and empowering others.

  12. JJ the Jet Plane says:

    M-Lisa,
    I don’t know you, but I have a litany of friends and resources in and around FIT, and I would like to help you. Please don’t give up on your dream. Too many people have helped me make my way, and so I know that YOU CAN MAKE THIS HAPPEN. Please email me when you have the opportunity? Phenum@gmail.com.

  13. Dobe says:

    “THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH!” Interesting post, and very true points were made.

    M-LISA: YOU BET’ NOT GIVE THAT OPPORTUNITY UP! Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Congratulations on your acceptance… now make it happen :)

  14. Jihan says:

    The rent IS too damn high here in NYC, but I love fashion and thankfully I was raised here so it was a little easier for me to pursue my dreams.

    In all honesty, the price of rent is a joke considering NY is a breeding ground for roaches, rats, and bedbugs of all stripes

    Someone tell me why they raised my rent $300, yet basically refuse to fix my doorbell/peephole/ give me better kitchen cabinets?

    /endrant

  15. Britnie D. says:

    This post really defined one of the reasons why I visit this blog: while I love the fashion posts and discovering where things are from, I really admire the writing skills and perspective that you all possess. I’m also very inspired by all the love and support that I read in these comments; sometimes people can be really catty , but today it is evident that people are positive and really want to support one another. I wish @m-lisa the best of luck in pursuing her dreams and I truly hope that she is able to figure out a way to make it to FIT. I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope we are all able to achieve the dreams that we aspire to!

  16. Wetin? says:

    I agree. Streetstyle has become boring with the same people being featured season after season. This is why I don’t even read Scott Schuman’s blog anymore. He takes pictures of the same aesthetic and skinny white folks.

  17. Islandista says:

    I absolutely think so and it’s a shame. Certainly when you look at cities like New York, a lot of the celebrated creativity has tended to sprout up in the cheaper areas, whether they were cheaper because of rent control or being ‘bad areas’. SoHo, the Meatpacking District, Williamsburg, Fort Greene and on and on.

    When you price young creative out of these cities (because let’s face it, most young creatives aren’t that well off yet), you suck the creativity out of the city.

    And the prices of existing in these cities are just crazy! When I lived in London back in ’06, I paid £265 a month for a ‘box’ room in a house. There were 3 other, bigger bedrooms in the house, with 5 other people living in them. I cannot imagine what they paid for their rooms! And this was even though we were nowhere near Central London (we were in Zone 3 and not even on a Tube line – we had to take overland rail! London-dwellers know what this means!).

  18. Islandista says:

    I can definitely relate to M-Lisa’s conundrum. :( I faced the same thing when I got accepted to NYU and like her, my tuition was going to be covered because I had a government scholarship.

    But I had to jump through a million hurdles to prove that I could simply afford to live in the city and even with an aunt volunteering to let me live with her, I still wasn’t meeting the thresholds for NYU to even send me the documentation (can’t remember the name of the form – an I-something) I needed to apply for my student visa. It was like…wtf?! I had a full scholarship, somewhere to live, an expedited visa appointment and the right to work 20 hours a week to make money and they were insistent it still wasn’t enough.

    Eventually I got fed up and took my government’s money and went to a great university in the UK.

    So to M-Lisa, if FIT is your absolute dream, try to find some way to make it even if you have to handle a longer commute. Brooklyn is a fine place to live. But, remember there is more than one route to your dreams so don’t discount exploring other options.

  19. DenimJunkieKidd says:

    This article is nothing but the truth. To speak more on breaking into the industry, I graduated with a degree in fashion merchandising and marketing and interned for free in NYC and LA and still face the hardships of gaining access to the industry every day. It seems like everyone now-a-days wants to be a stylist, designer, or blogger because they have a few name brand pieces and like to shop. There is so much more that goes into this industry and it sucks that it is becoming so bland and bottom line driven.

  20. Shayla says:

    First things first, this post is exactly why FBD is the only fashion site I frequent! Y’all are the isssshhhhh. Secondly @ M-Lisa, I live in Seattle, WA w/2 infants & I will drive you to class from here everyday, rather than know/let a young person with ambition, talent & favor has to decline acceptance into an institution most would die to get into because of $$$. Something will open up, Jesus ain’t no joke…pray about it!

  21. SK says:

    Great Post Claire! This is a prominent reason why this is the only fashion blog I choose to frequent every day! You show integrity and love for the business and the art of Fashion. As a Fashion Marketing Major I can respect that. Also, it’s really hard to find quality African American fashion blogs without the ratchet/gossip foolery being apart of it. So thanks again Claire! I love posts like these.

  22. SK says:

    Great post Faith, my apologies (lol)

  23. Great post- I read that London is the most expensive place to live in, in the world however with the majority of fashion internships etc only being offered in the capital, it is impossible to really make an impact. The cost of monthly rent is over £2,000 and for anyone just starting off this really is mission impossible- it is becoming a case of either luck or a privileged background that will get you through.

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