Each with a net worth amounting to billions of dollars, top fashion houses in the world hold immense power.
High-end fashion brands don’t just sell clothes and accessories. They sell lifestyles – lifestyles that are so headily attractive, an ordinary person cannot help but fall under their spell.
The question ‘who are you wearing’ asked by red carpet hosts is a weighty one, because it is evidence of the near-obsession that characterises the world of fashion. Names like Prada, Ralph Lauren, and Armani don’t just elicit approval – they call forth worship and wistfulness. It is a clique everyone wishes to be a part of, but only a few enjoy the honour.
The fashion industry employs an incredible amount of capital and manpower to stay relevant. The Guardian reports: prior to the pandemic, staying relevant entailed each brand showcasing an excess of six collections a year in a multitude of locations worldwide – with no regard to all the travel and publicising costs involved. The huge carbon footprint the industry leaves is a genuine concern for environmentalists. But fashion shows are the engine that keeps the industry going. Fashion weeks in exotic locations all over the world are another way to tell the world you have officially arrived.
No matter how effervescent they may seem, Gianni Versace’s assassination was a stark reminder that even these powerful pioneers of fashion the world looks up to are not invincible. In fact, their prestige turns them into targets in the eyes of those less fortunate. Versace was ruling supreme in South Beach, Florida at the time of his death. His funeral was attended by bigwigs such as Elton John, Anna Wintour, Naomi Campbell, even Princess Diana. In life, he commanded respect and admiration; in death, the same.
The ideologies such people live by are very much immortal. Fashion leaves a mark that cannot be erased. Those who do it well manage to impact far flung corners of the world – places they only dreamed of touching. Fashion houses are powerful enough to rule the world, because they hold the key to what most people desire the most.