Urban fashion formations in the twenty-first century: Weberian Ideal Types as a Heuristic Device to Unravel the Fashion City

Patrizia Casadei, David Gilbert, Luciana Lazzaretti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, local governments and academic research have drawn increasing attention to the idea of the ‘fashion city’ as a strategic factor for urban economic growth. In addition to renowned fashion capitals, ‘second-tier cities’ of fashion have proliferated giving rise to a large heterogeneity of centres of production, design, consumption and culture. Despite its rising popularity, the concept of the fashion city is still weakly codified and only simplistic ‘tool-kit’ strategies have been adopted to transform cities into contemporary fashion hubs. Drawing upon Weber’s ideal type approach, the paper develops an analytical framework for thinking about the diverse nature of fashion’s relation with cities. The search for the elusive singular fashion city is replaced by three ideal types - the ‘manufacturing fashion city’, the ‘design fashion city’, and the ‘symbolic fashion city’, which can be used as heuristic devices to trigger debate about the distinctive characteristics of fashion centres and speculate about future pathways. The paper stimulates critical reflection on the different kinds of position that fashion plays in urban economies, and the developmental paths of different forms of fashion city ‘formations’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-896
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Issue number5
Early online date30 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • fashion cities
  • Urbanism
  • manufacturing
  • design
  • Symbolism
  • Max Weber
  • ideal types

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