Yes, states have a stake in the development of fashion industry. States influence this industry through the regulation of investments and technological modernisation and through control of the ideological message the clothes communicate.
Some governments, like the UK, have long recognised the importance of fashion as a powerful vector of ideas and a significant contributor to the country’s international status and national economy. Regulation and investments in the UK’s textile production and trade made its fashion industry the biggest creative industry in the country, attracting foreign investment and creating jobs. Governmental support of young fashion business and fashion education made London the centre of a thriving multinational fashion culture, with hundreds of international students enrolling in British universities every year.
In the pursuit of producing ideologically suitable clothes for the citizens of the USSR, the Soviet planned economy even regulated what colours of textiles would be circulated in five-year periods, a sort of “five year fashion plan.”
Governments have also long recognised fashion and design as an effective tool for the promotion of values and ideologies, and have used it as a powerful vehicle for propaganda. During Great East Asian War (1931-1945), textiles and clothing for civilian use were patterned with wartime motifs, depicting weaponry and soldiers as well as slogans such as ‘V for Victory’. These agitation textiles mediated strong patriotic and nationalistic messages on the home front to enhance national unity and gain support for the military.
Meanwhile, in the Soviet Union, the state interfered dramatically in the personal appearances of its citizens, motivating designers and artists to produce garments with “proletarian aesthetics” centred on the idea of functionality, hygiene, and durability. Production of new clothing types was part of the production of the new citizen, and aimed to consolidate the ethnically diverse country. In this pursuit of producing ideologically suitable clothes for the citizens of the USSR, the Soviet planned economy even regulated what colours of textiles would be circulated in five-year periods, a sort of “five year fashion plan.”
For more on this, you can check out these texts:
- Breward, Christopher. 2003. Fashion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Goodrum, Alison. 2005. The National Fabric. Fashion, Britishness, Globalization. Oxford, Ney Work: Berg.
- Gronow, Jukka and Sergey Zhuravlev. 2015. Fashion Meets Socialism: Fashion Industry in the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.
- Kalinina, Ekaterina. 2017. Becoming patriots in Russia: Bio-politics, fashion and nostalgia. Nationalities Papers, 45 (1) pp. 8-24.