What’s the Fashion Capital of Italy?
Prada, Gucci, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana–when you think of the high-end fashion industry, it’s likely many of those famous Italian brands immediately come to mind. It’s no secret that Italy is a powerhouse within the world of fashion, but how did this come to be? What does fashion really mean to Italians? For starters, Italians are known for their attention to dressing well–they adhere to the term “la bella figura,” which translates to “the beautiful figure.” The story goes back to the 11th century and the Renaissance period, when Italy was considered the leading trendsetter of fashion in Europe. This designation was lost throughout the 17th to 20th centuries.
Following WWII, however, Italian fashion experienced a resurgence and is now considered one of the most influential fashion centers in the world. There are a number of reasons for this. On a technical level, there’s the Italian way of craftsmanship and attention to detail, as well as an emphasis on high-quality textiles. So while the clothes themselves have plenty to do with it, there’s some interesting historical context to consider as well. The Marshall Plan, a post-WWII U.S. program designed to aid the economies of war-torn European countries, helped to boost the Italian textile industry. Then, in 1951, Italian businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini held a fashion show in Florence with the goal of elevating Italy to its original standing in the fashion world, and it worked. By the 1960s, a variety of American celebrities and public figures, inlcuding First Lady Jackie Onassis Kennedy, could be seen sporting the latest Italian designs. Italian fashion had become synonymous with Hollywood Chic.
Florence remained the fashion capital of Italy throughout the 1950s and 1960s, but by the 1970s, this distinction began to sway toward Milan and Rome. The 1970s also marked a turning point for Italian fashion, with clothing and accessories becoming less geared towards only the rich and famous. An emphasis on ready-to-wear clothing was made as well, with a focus on jeans and miniskirts, for example. Today, Italy remains at the top, and the industry remains centered on Rome and Milan.
Despite having lost its distinction as the fashion hotspot of Italy, Florence still remains a relevant outpost for Italian fashion, and nothing can take away the fact that Florence spurred the resurgence of Italian fashion in the 20th century. If you were to visit Florence today, you would find a number of high-end boutiques and shopping districts. Florence’s main shopping street, called Via de’ Tornabuoni, is known for its array of luxury fashion boutiques. Some of these include Gucci (whose headquarters are located in Florence), Armani, Enrico Coveri, Roberto Cavalli, and Emilio Pucci. In addition to the high-end, world-class fashion outlets, major fashion labels such as Prada and Chanel maintain large offices within Florence. The pervasiveness of the fashion industry within Florence speaks to the importance of fashion to Italians!
If you find yourself curious in the world of fashion, or you happen to be a huge fan of it, you’ll be happy to know that an all-inclusive tour of Italy on our Highlights of Florence and Tuscany Experience will take you right through the heart of it all in Florence! Part of living like a local is experiencing every cultural beacon that makes a place unique—in the case of Florence, fashion is a part of this. Fashion, food, art, and architecture are all integral to experiencing Italy, and we stand behind this at A Toast to Travel!