Cover image for The end of fashion : the mass marketing of the clothing business
The end of fashion : the mass marketing of the clothing business
Agins, Teri.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow & Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 320 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD9940.A2 A35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Fashion is a multibillion-dollar international business; it permeates our lives and our economies. Yet there has never been a book of solid, hard-hitting, uncompromising business/cultural/social journalism on this subject--because the fashion press is subsidized by the very industry it covers.

Teri Agins, however, covers the fashion beat for a publication that does not rely upon fashion advertising--and she is thereby uniquely unfettered and able to finally tell the whole truth about this gigantic, flamboyant, and endlessly fascinating business.

Her book traces an arc from the origins of couture and its apotheosis in the early part of this century to the advent of prjt-a-porter post.World War II and the sweeping changes that have taken place as the century ends. It is an arc from when "fashion" was defined by elite French designers whose clothes could be afforded only by the global socialites--but whose designs were copied and followed by everyone else--to the point where the rules are set by the consumers, and the designers must follow them. It is an arc from class to mass; from art to commodity. Above all, it is the story of the triumph of marketing.

The narrative includes profiles of designers Emmanuel Ungaro, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, and Zoran, as well as retailers Marshall Field and the Gap.The End of Fashion is classy and stylish, filled with insider details; it is dishy and lively and fun--as well as astute and full of insights about how the changes in the fashion business have reflected changes in the culture over the last fifty years.

Author Notes

Teri Agins is a senior special writer at The Wall Street Journal. She has covered the fashion business for the Journal for ten years. She lives in New York City.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In one of the oddest industries ever to be chronicled, CEOs of IPOs clash with the wishes of their majority shareholders, and luxury conglomerates exist solely by the avarice and greed of fans of their labels. What else but the incestuous fashion world--and who better to chronicle its rise and fall and rise and fall than an independent, objective Wall Street Journal reporter? Agins tells the tales well and thus captures readers' attention, narrating the stories of the Ralph Lauren-Tommy Hilfiger rivalry, the power of celebrity dressing, and the four reasons for the decline of "true" fashion. (One reason is that "people stopped dressing up." Duh!) All of the gossipy details are here, like Donna Karan's legendary hissy fits. So, too, is the business side, such as the wheeling and dealing pre^-Wall Street. Many of the stories, though, remain semidetached, without much of a connection except the names and the rags industry itself. --Barbara Jacobs

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dispensing with the idea that fashion designers are unpredictable geniuses sequestered in creative isolation from vulgar commerce, Agins, who covers the fashion industry for the Wall Street Journal, has taken a long, hard look at style in the '90s and come back with a compelling report on why big business has forever altered what we wear. In seven superbly researched essays, she explains that the designers are currently being challenged to sell essentially the same clothes to a public with increasingly homogenized tastes. "Today's `branding' of fashion," she writes, "has taken on a critical role [when] just about every store in the mall is peddling the same style of clothes." Brands, in this context, are the designers themselvesÄa woman doesn't go shopping for a particular style of dress, but for a "Calvin" or a "Ralph"Äa lifestyle distillation that denotes professional and severe urban minimalism (Calvin Klein) or athletic, American conservatism (Ralph Lauren). The casualties of this trend are the craftsmanlike members of the Old School, as Agins ably demonstrates in essays on fading Parisian haute couture. Liveliest by far is Agins's chronicle of the rivalry between Lauren and the upstart Tommy Hilfiger, who sells clothes nearly identical to Lauren's, but with a hipper edge, captivating black city kids. The influence of Armani on Tinseltown and Donna Karan on Wall Street are also analyzed with verve and clear-sightedness. As glossy fashion magazines increasingly offer fantasies illustrated by advertisements far more often than they deliver journalism, Agins's penetrating dispatch from the rag trade is especially welcome. Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Agins, a veteran fashion reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has written the first factual book on the fashion industry from a business/cultural/social journalist's view. She traces the beginning of couture from the early 20th century in France through all the stages to the present, when consumers set the fashion rules and designers must follow them. Major components of her story include retailers like Marshall Field, Federated Department Stores, Dillards, Nordstrom, and the Gap as well as designers Giorgio Armani, Bill Blass, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan. In the end, this story is about the triumph of marketing; Agins demonstrates how changes in our culture, e.g., more casual dress, have changed the fashion business. Filled with insider details and descriptions of the fickle nature of consumers, this book belongs in academic business and fashion collections.ÄSusan C. Awe, Univ. of New Mexico Lib., Albuquerque (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: What Happened to Fashion?p. 1
Chapter 1 Paris: the Beginning and the End of Fashionp. 17
Chapter 2 Fashioning a Makeover for Emanuel Ungarop. 54
Chapter 3 Bound for Old Glory: Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfigerp. 80
Chapter 4 What Becomes a Legend Most? When Giorgio Armani Takes Hollywoodp. 127
Chapter 5 Giving the Lady What she Wants: the New Marshall Field'sp. 162
Chapter 6 Gored in a Bull Market: When Donna Karan Went to Wall Streetp. 200
Chapter 7 Outside of the Box: Zoranp. 247
Epiloguep. 275
A note on researchp. 281
Notesp. 283
Selected bibliographyp. 307
Indexp. 309