Material and symbolic production of fashion in a global creative city. Industry’s perception of the 21st century London

Patrizia Casadei, David Gilbert

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In response to globalization of traditional manufacturing and the growing significance of a symbolic economy, fashion cities are now formed by different mixings of material, design/creative and symbolic forms of production. The intersection between these elements is particularly evident in the global fashion cities, which have experienced a profound process of deindustrialization and a shift between manufacturing and symbolic economies. This paper explores London’s relationship with fashion through the perspectives of key industry actors. We draw upon 30 semi-structured in-depth interviews undertaken between 2016 and 2018 to explore the interplay between material, creative and symbolic forms of fashion production in the city. Interview material is supported by the analysis of data collected from the Office for National Statistics and the Higher Education Statistics Agency. London’s fashion ecosystem is seen as having strong focus on creativity, artistic values and forms of symbolism, which are however regarded as in tension with a viable fashion design industry, an effective business culture and manufacturing system. The paper contributes to the literature on the fashion’s positioning in urban economies by shedding light on the interaction between production, creative and symbolic elements in a global creative city.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCreative Industries Journal
Early online date14 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2022


  • Fashion
  • London
  • creative industries
  • manufacturing
  • symbolism

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