Global Fashion Capitals: Creative Industries

The multilayered identity of New York as a global fashion capital has long been defined by the history of the garment industry, fashion and labor. The cultures and economies of the fashion industry and the city of New York have been and continue to be intertwined. The cultural economic impact of the fashion industry on New York City cannot be overstated. New York City’s fashion industry employs 180,000 people and accounts for 6% of the city workforce, generating $10.9 billion a year in total wages, and tax revenues of $2 billion. An estimated 900 fashion companies are headquartered in the city.  New York Fashion Week contributes about $850 million a year to the local economy—about twice the economic impact of the 2014 Super Bowl.

Fashion is more than ever part of a wider landscape that intersects with other creative industries (media, visual arts, design, film, craft). Fashion, its manufacturing and culture industry, and its complex media apparatus have contributed to the transformation and histories of several world cities. In many cases, as in New York City, women and immigrants were largely responsible for building the garment industry; and it was their work that intersected with social reforms, political activism, gradual urban transformation and processes of globalization and gentrification.

A still from The True Cost (2014)

A still from The True Cost (2015), directed by Andrew Morgan


Some of the questions the conference will address are:

  1. How and why does a city become a Global Fashion Capital?
  2. What role do the social media and the post-digital experience of today play?
  3. How can labor, craft and design survive in the era of Instagram?
  4. How do new technologies and big data affect our ways of life, thinking and consuming the city in the city?
  5. Is there a new rhythm analysis that needs to be understood?
  6. And how can we strengthen our right to the city and allow a new humanitarian sensibility and politics?

This one-day symposium is presented by Fashion Studies at The Graduate Center and the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, in collaboration with the School of Visual, Media & Performing Arts at Brooklyn College and The Museum at FIT, and the support of Women’s Studies Certificate Program, the Master in Women’s Studies, The Committee on Globalization and Social Change, Data & Society, and The Futures Initiative.


A still from D.W. Griffith's short silent film The New York Hat starring Mary Pickford

A still from D.W. Griffith’s short silent film The New York Hat (1912), starring Mary Pickford


The morning session will take place on the FIT campus and will consist of a student fair, where visitors can interact with members of the international fashion community. The morning will also include a fashion show featuring five designers from emerging fashion capitals and a panel discussion moderated by MFIT curators Ariele Elia and Elizabeth Way. For more information about the morning session at FIT, please visit: https://www.fitnyc.edu/24347.asp


The afternoon session will take place at the Graduate Center, CUNY, in the Proshansky Auditorium.

To register, click HERE.

To view the schedule, click HERE.


Faculty Organizers at the Graduate Center: Eugenia Paulicelli, Veronica Manlow, and Elizabeth Wissinger

Student Organizers: Tessa Maffucci, Minn Hur, Chrislande Dorcilus, and Scarlett Newman

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