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by Jodi

A Cross-evaluation of Montreal and New York City Fashion

As an avid world traveler one of the first things I notice in a city are the people, and in doing so I also notice the clothes they are wearing. Fashion is a form of creative expression, and through fashion one can learn a great deal about a population. Cities that lead in fashion trends are often leading innovators in art, architecture and technology.

Montreal and New York City are both cosmopolitan cities with rich and diverse urban cultures. The Urban fashion index compares the level of fashionability in these two cities by evaluating them using a set of criteria: Fashion Intensity, Concentration of Fashionistas, Style Schools, Shopping, Brand Loyalty, and Fashion Innovators.

Fashion Intensity
Fashion can be expressed with varying degrees of intensity. Fashion in its purest form is 100% intense. It is an organic expression of creativity free of society's conformities. Fashionable people follow trends and adopt styles at varying levels of intensity. For example, a more recent trend in fashion takes us back nearly half a century to the 1960's, the short skirts, the go-go boots, the bold accessories and so on have begun to appear in stores for this fall season. Reference the display windows at ZARA, a high style international fashion store (in both NYC and MTL).

New Yorkers adopt trends with an overall higher intensity than do Montrealers. The general Montrealer tend to follow the trends by pairing seasonal trendy items with more basic and classic pieces of their wardrobe, i.e. a new and funky top with favorite pair of jeans. The New Yorker is more likely to be dressed head to toe with the latest and often craziest fashion pieces. New Yorkers seem to be more courageous and harder on the pocketbook when it comes to expressing their fashion intensity.

Concentration of Fashionistas
The fashion density in a city is measured by comparing the number of fashion savants in a city to those that simply lack a certain element of style. A higher proportion of fashionistas is indicative of a more fashionable population.

In this category Montreal outdoes the big apple with a much higher proportion of fashionable people parading the streets. Fashionable people may flock to New York but Montrealers posses an innate sense of fashion that is unmatched worldwide.

Style Schools
Schools of Fashion such as New York's FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) or Montreal's LaSalle College are not what this section is referring to. A "Style School" is a group of people who can be seen walking through the streets wearing their style "uniforms". Every season there are a few trends that just seem to explode; i.e. the juicy sweat suits, Von Dutch hats, or super short pleated skirts of this summer. "Style schools" are usually exemplified in the 12-21 age category where groups of friends seem to find some sense of belonging by dressing as carbon copies of one another. A "style school" is the antitheses of fashion because it demonstrates a lack of creativity and expresses people's ability to follow the crowd.

Both New Yorkers and Montrealers can be found swimming in "style schools", and people find solace in this mode of fashion adoption way beyond their high school years. Montrealers may however be slightly more inclined to follow the crowd in their mode of dress, evidence of this can be found on Price Arthur Street every weekend.

Shopping is the act of locating fashion; it is a hunt that often involves very strategic planning. There are many factors to consider when engaging in the hunting process, one must deal with the constraints of a budget, the proper stores must be identified and the most fashionable pieces abstracted from the more mundane forms of clothes. A good shopping city has a healthy mix of owner operated boutiques, thrift stores, brand carrying shops, and the run of the mill chain stores.
When considering all of the above factors Montreal undoubtedly has better shopping than New York City. While New York has more stores than Montreal, the work required finding and shopping in them (crowds) outweighs the benefits of their multiplicity. While there are bargains to be found in both cities, nearly everything in Montreal is a bargain when compared with the price tags on clothing in New York.

Brand Loyalty
Much of fashion or credibility in fashion is based on the brand name associated with a particular garment. A tacky retro shirt suddenly appears much cooler when a prestigious brand name is sewed onto its collar. Most of us fall victim to this fashion spell, the brand name often means an item of clothing will be noticed and revered by fashionable onlookers.

Montrealers and New Yorkers have their own brands. Montreal is a big city but New York is a much bigger one and so are the brands worn by New Yorkers. Montrealers are loyal to Diesel, Miss Sixty, Seven and other moderately overpriced brands while fashionable New Yorkers are loyal to the higher end brands such as Gucci, Prada, Dior etc.

Fashion Innovators
Fashion Innovators are those that create fashion. Although one typically assigns this role strictly to fashion designers, anyone with a flare for style and the ability to be creative with their own individual fashion can be classified as a fashion innovator. A fashion innovator is aware of the trends but follows them through adaptation rather than adoption.

New York may have more fashion innovators than Montreal, but this is purely due to the grand magnitude of the city. Montreal is a small town when measured against New York, yet it is as big and fashionable as any city needs to be.

Final thoughts...
This article may fail to draw a conclusion, and may come across as a series of thoughts that fail to form a solid and concrete statement. That is because it is a comparison of two fashionable cities that posses their own unique style using a set of criteria, but these two cities cannot simply be measured against one another on an index but can only be experienced.

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