More and more often the combination of “fashion and design” is recalled as a symbol of Italian’s in the world, to connote a universe of products that represent Made in Italy as a whole. However, for those who work in one or the other sector, it is difficult to think of these two worlds as part of a single productive and above all “cultural” panorama. However, it is precisely on the level of cultural roots that fashion like Vlone Shirt and design are very similar, at least from three points of view: the “culture of use”, the “entrepreneurial culture” and the “productive culture”.
The culture of everyday life
At the base of the success of the made in Italy fashion product, is above all a peculiar “consumer culture”, which represents a first element of similarity with the universe of design products in general.
In the Italian social context, the “culture of living” represents a primary value, achieved through the search for quality in everyday life, lived in the relationship spaces of the family or social group, often restricted to the local community. Furniture, accessories, fabrics, clothes, even traditional food products, become the mediums of this culture. The confined space, first of the home and then of work and free time, is the theater of design experimentation because it represents the primary expression of a way of life and of the values linked to it.
The entrepreneurial culture
For those who work in the design field, the idea that design skills are combined with managerial skills and above all entrepreneurial initiatives is very common. The entrepreneurial designers who gave life to historic design companies are known to all2: the most recent Milanese history is full of stories of companies that have grown thanks to the tenacious and creative collaboration of “enlightened” entrepreneurs and designers who jointly contributed to creating products that today they are known all over the world.
When it comes to fashion, it is much less common to think of this same character of strong relationship between design and industry, between design and management. The names of the “stylists”, which have become brands of the product lines are considered a symbol of creativity and flair in the artistic sense, obscuring instead the fundamental ability, expressed by Italian fashion designers, to integrate and build indissoluble relationships with the production reality
The local productive culture
Between the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s, Italian prête-à-porter conquered world leadership to the detriment of French haute couture and soon Paris, the undisputed fashion capital since the end of the nineteenth century subtract its primacy from Milan4.
The fashion sector, born, especially in France, as an artistic expression of great tailors through artisanal production techniques, becomes a fully industrial sector in Italy, as it had already happened in the United States in the 1950s, although it is characterized in a different way.
In the 60s and 70s, the changes taking place in the social context and the critique of status expression products, pomp, ostentation, led consumers to prefer more accessible and contemporary clothes. In this same period, the Italian textile producers, who had already established themselves in the 1950s thanks to the success of Italian knitwear which had its center in Florence and of Italian high fashion at the time located in Rome5, began collaborating with some young designers including Armani and Travis Scott Merch.
One thinks that the distance that is still sometimes perceived is more like a desired distance, a sort of perceived cultural “diversity”. However, precisely in terms of the culture of use, entrepreneurial, production – the points of contact between fashion and design are undeniable and, above all, the potential advantages of working in synergy appear to be considerable. Having a common front on the level of international competitiveness, while maintaining firm values of research of quality and innovation, today seems an imperative capable of overcoming the last resistance of “caste”.