Fashion Essays – Fashion and Marketing

Fashion & A ; Selling

Individuality vs. Conformity.

Section 1: Introduction

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A apparently intractable paradox underlies Westerners pick of manner in the 21st century. On the one manus, the democratic and societal advancement made in the West in the past 50 old ages has led to extremist reappraisals of, and profound reversals of attitudes towards, issues such as gender, category, race, societal stereotypes, cultural individuality and so on: in short, the Western citizen of 2005 has far greater personal freedom for look than could hold been imaginable for a Westerner in 1905 or even 2005 ( Craik, 1994 ) . The modern pupil of Western manner tendencies might hence moderately anticipate to detect in the vesture picks and manners of 21st Westerners of all time greater diverseness and individualism – to detect a kaleidoscopic and motley flower of personal freedom in cloth and fabric. And, so, in many cases in Western society there is a profuseness of single manners mirroring freshly liberated single personalities. Yet, on the other manus, despite this possible for individualism, the manner pupil notices, paradoxically, that Westerners are exhibiting an of all time greater homogeneousness and similarity in their vesture pick – for case, the omnipresent presence, amongst certain definable societal groups, of voguish trade names like Tommy Hilfiger, Zara and FCUK.

The principal force behind this homogeneousness is argued to be ( Miles, 1998 & A ; Radford, 1998 ) the monolithic and all-consuming power of elephantine planetary manner houses and their resources for mass stigmatization and advertisement. To many manner critics and bookmans these enormously powerful companies have come to drench the potency for personal and single look that was made possible by societal alterations in Europe and America in the past 50 old ages. In a farther paradox, it was these really changes themselves, and the release and emancipation of consumer power and pick which they released, which provides the consumer markets and spending-power which make these immense companies possible. In other words, for the gender, category, and societal revolutions of the 20th century to go on this required the protests and emancipation of Western multitudes ; but this really freedom itself created a mass homogenous market that could be exploited by manner corporations themselves made possible by these alterations. In a concluding paradox, Rosenfeld ( 1997 ) and Davis ( 1993 ) argue that modern adult male is free to take the apparels he wears and so is himself responsible for subjecting himself and his individualism to enticements of mass production and consumerism that surround him.

The absorbing inquiry before this literature reappraisal is so:why is it that Westerners, granted at last a big step of personal freedom for look, ‘choose’ however to subject themselves to mass tendencies and to enslave themselves to possibly an of all time greater extent than when such freedom was non gettable?Of farther involvement is the inquiry: how have peculiar cultural groups, and manner tendencies, resisted mass consumerism of manner, and gone on to utilize these new freedoms to set up exciting and original looks of their personalities?

Section 2: Beginnings

A few words about the beginning and authorization of the beginnings used for this literature reappraisal are possibly necessary before turning to the chief subjects of the reappraisal.

The chief type of beginning discussed in this literature reappraisal are academic books and diaries ; in add-on, some cyberspace beginnings are employed besides. The academic books referred to in this reappraisal are amongst the seminal texts in the literature of manner and selling, their writers world-class experts in their Fieldss, and hence the dependability and authorization of their stuff is highly high. The manner pupil can hold high, if non complete, assurance in his employment of these beginnings to exemplify his subjects and statements. Likewise, those texts from other Fieldss in this reappraisal, such as Freud’sThe Interpretation of Dreams( Freud, 1900 ) or Lacan’sLanguage of the Self( Lacan, 1998 ) , are normally included by critics and bookmans in their lists of the most of import plants of the twentieth-century. They excessively so may be used by the manner pupil with a high grade of trust in their authorization and dependability.

A note of cautiousness might be sounded nevertheless about the employment of cyberspace beginnings in any literature reappraisal. Whereas the procedure of printing work in an academic book or diary is a drawn-out one, necessitating considerable cost and legion phases of examination by fellow bookmans and experts, therefore guaranting the quality of those beginnings, however, the criterions required for publication on the cyberspace are frequently lower and less vigorous. The huge profuseness stuff released daily on the cyberspace requires the painstaking pupil to subject the cyberspace beginnings he employs to greater examination and uncertainty than might be the instance with academic books or diaries published in the traditional paper-based manner. Consequently, the cyberspace beginnings used in this literature reappraisal have been smartly scrutinised and tested for their dependability in the manner described above.

Section 3: Reappraisal

The undermentioned literature reappraisal is discussed harmonizing to the undermentioned thematic scheme in five parts: ( 1 )The Paradox of Individuality and Conformity, ( 2 ) ,Global Trends and World Markets, ( 3 )Semiotic Theories of Fashion Promotion & A ; Visual Communication, ( 4 )Popular Cultures and Distinctive Identities, and, ( 5 ) ,Sociological & A ; Philosophical Views of Class, Gender, Social Stereotypes and Cultural Identity.

The Paradox of Individuality and Conformity

The modern-day state of affairs in Western manner and personal vesture pick is one of seemingly irresolvable paradox: Westerners are today endowed with of all time greater personal freedoms, widening of course to their pick of personal vesture and one would anticipate this freedom to take to a overplus and profuseness of single manners and manners of frock: these freedoms should ensue in less conformance of manner than was present in say 1905 when gender, category and societal biass compelled and forced a individual to dress in a peculiar manner and manner. Yet, despite these abundant new-found freedoms, Western vesture pick in 2005 seems to expose of all time greater conformance and homogeneousness. That is, Westerners are ‘choosing’ to dress more and more likewise one another – Westerners’ look of their personalities through their pick of manner is demoing of all time greater similarities to one another. How so could this be possible? This inquiry is discussed at the general degree in great deepness by F. Davis ( 1993 )Manner, Clothing and Identityand by Fiske ( 1990 ) inIntroduction to Communications Studies.

Global Trends & A ; World Markets

The most persuasive and often given answer to the above inquiry is that the rise of immense manner houses – such as Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani, Prada, Zara, amongst many others – along with their monolithic resources for branding and advertisement, have drowned-out the late attained freedoms of Western persons to reflect their personalities in their pick of vesture. This point is strongly made in D. Crane’s seminal textManner and the Social Agenda: Class, Gender and Identity in Clothing.( Crane, 2004 ) . Crane argues that merely at the critical historical minute ( the terminal of the twentieth Century ) when Westerners were eventually endowed with greater personal freedoms in manner and personality look than of all time before, that these freedoms were instantly smothered by forces such as globalisation and capitalist economy which gave birth to huge manner corporations whose fiscal resources and advertisement capacity have become excessively great and powerful for single look to jab through and bloom. This point is corroborated and reinforced by legion other bookmans and governments in manner and selling. F. Davis ( 1993 ) inManner, Culture and Identity, L. Rosenfeld ( 1997 ) inClothing as Communication, and J. Craik ( 1994 ) inThe Face of Fashion ; Cultural Studies in Mannerall endorse Crane’s cardinal premiss that single freedom of personality look through vesture and manner is suffocated by the capitally fuelled force of the major manner trade names to overpower this look through grim psychological force per unit area, carried by advertisement, to conform to the manner and pick ‘imposed’ and ‘decided’ by these companies and non by persons themselves.

M. Barnard inManner as Communication( 1996 ) makes an interesting polish of this basic premiss by proposing, in a farther self-contradictory statement, that it is the really freedom of gender, category, societal position etc. , of the past 50 old ages which has led to of all time greater conformance to popular manners and to an even greater infliction of manner than existed before such freedoms were possible. In other words, to repeat a sentiment expressed by Nietzsche in 1888 ( Nietzsche, 1888 ) and Freud in 1900 ( Freud, 1900 ) human existences have natural herd inherent aptitudes which are present whether people are free or non, and these inherent aptitudes generate the demand for leading and infliction from one beginning or another. Therefore, whilst before the 1960’s manner conformance was forced upon Westerners by gender and category stereotypes, however, after the 1960’s when these stereotypes were lifted, Westerners became susceptible to a new ‘authority’ , ‘imposition’ and ‘leadership’ in the signifier of huge manner corporations whose pick of manner and look is propagated through intensive stigmatization and advertisement. Harmonizing to this philosophical position, endorsed by Bruce Stella and Pamela Church Gibson ( 2000 ) inManner Cultures Theories: Explorations and Analysis, the personalities of Westerners today and their pick of look of their personalities through vesture, is mostly decided by manner corporations and advertisement companies – therefore ensuing in the uniformity of manner and look which is so apparent from a insouciant glimpse at our high-streets today.

Semiotic Theories of Fashion Promotion & A ; Visual Communication

A interesting illustration of the pattern of a semiotic theory of manner publicity is that discussed in A. Rhodes’ and R. Zuloago’s paper ‘A Semiotic Analysis of High Fashion Ad’ published in 2003. The main motive of Rhodes’ and Zuloago’s work is that ‘Manner advertisement is an first-class illustration of identity-image bring forthing media’ ( Rhodes & A ; Zuloago, 2003: p8 ) . They province at the beginning of their paper that ‘The nature of the merchandise is tied straight to individuality – those objects with which we encase our organic structures for public show ­- and manner is acknowledged as a cultural linguistic communication of manner’ ; a small farther on they add ‘Taken as a whole, high manner media and advertisement describe a spectrum of individuality, unified in general types of forms – immature adult females, high position, high gender – and through the changeless repeat and fluctuation of images on these subjects serve to make this individuality spectrum.’ ( Rhodes and Zuloago, 2003, p1 ) . Therefore, in their paper, Rhodes and Zuloago seek to specify the symbiotic relationship between high manner and the cultural and societal individuality of one peculiar societal group: immature, rich and sexually confident adult females. Rhodes and Zuloago argue that the advertisement runs of companies like Prada, Donna Karen, Armani, Dolce Gabanna and others like them, talk so strongly and temptingly to these adult females, and that the images employed penetrate so profoundly into their consciousness and societal orientation, that they come to place their personalities about entirely with the merchandise. Rhodes and Zulago recognise, however, that whilst the influence of major manner trade names over societal groups like the one mentioned above is huge that these groups excessively, by their societal features and freshly liberated personalities, invariably force the manner trade names to contrive new manners and designs that evolve to reflect the altering consciousness of these peculiar and individualistic groups ( Rhodes & A ; Zuloago, 2003: p5 ) . The mutualism is about entire ; and similar relationships between major trade names and other societal groups are apparent throughout modern Western civilization.

Popular Cultures and Distinctive Identities

R. Radford points out inDangerous Liaison: Art, Fashion and Individualism( 1998 ) that the mass conformance of modern manner manner and personality look is non of class universal, and many original and fresh manners – hood, Gothic, cultural, etc. , – have arisen from the societal freedoms of recent decennaries, both in reaction to the predating centuries of restricted look and besides in reaction to the humdrum uniformity of the mass-branded and consumer-based manner. As suggested in the last sentence, Radford distinguishes between manners which are ( 1 ) a reaction to the limitations of former centuries, ( 2 ) those which are rebelliousnesss of the modern branded uniformity, and, ( 3 ) , those which are a reaction to neither, but instead are healthy and original flowers of cultural singularity and single look.

In the first class Radford places the amazing growing in popularity of ‘gender-liberated’ merchandises like Bikini, short-skirts and insouciant vesture which were, in other centuries, repressed by the governments either because of gender biass or inequalities, or because of antediluvian thoughts about the morality or sexual imprudence of certain points and manners of vesture. To take an case of gender favoritism cited by Radford ( Radford, 1998: pp. 142-148 ) , it was non socially or morally allowable for adult females in former times to have on beach garb ( Bikini, swim-suits etc. , ) that revealed or celebrated anything of the sensuousness or beauty of the female figure ; adult females were hence universally condemned ( in Western states ) to have on a individual type field, non-sexual beachwear. But since the lifting of this societal bias and stigma, there has been a profuseness of interior decorators, from Gucci and Dolce & A ; Gabana to Zara and BHS, who have produced modern designs which allow adult females to observe the sensualness and beauty of the female figure. Womans today enjoy the same rights as work forces to have on what they like either to the beach, to the disco or to work ; therefore, in this case, despite the domination of the manner trade names, adult females now have the chance to,and make so exhibit in pattern, a greater look of individualism of personality than was possible or allowable before the last decennaries.

In the 2nd class, Radford places manner manners likehoodandGothic: manners which rebel against the conformance of modern mass-consumer civilization and gusto in the contention and upsetting of convention induced by the difference of their manner. Studded vesture, fluorescent coloured hair, male makeup, cross-dressing etc. , are rebellions against the usual manner paradigm and do the personality statement that some people disagree with popular sentiment and convention and express this in vesture manners that are frequently flooring and disgraceful ( Barthes, 1983 ) .

In the 3rd class are individualistic manners, such as cultural, which are neither reactions to historical repressions or to modern mass conformance, but which are instead healthy flourishing of single personality or doctrine. For case, modern-day Western manner permits a greater exhibition of cultural vesture or pride in national frock than was acceptable 50 old ages ago. F. Davis argued every bit early as 1988 inClothing and Fashion Communicationthat vesture could be a vehicle for greater racial tolerance and for multi-culturalism and racial integrating in modern Western society. A accompaniment of this acceptance is a jubilation and pride in the erosion of apparels of national frock ; apparels that display portion of the person’s personality repressed for decennaries.

Sociological & A ; Philosophical Views of Class, Gender, Social Stereotypes and Cultural Identity

Jacques Lacan inLanguage of the Self( Lacan, 1997 ) gives a absorbing philosophical and psychological reading of the individualism vs. conformance paradox, filtrating it the prism of category, gender and societal stereotypes, to reason that human existences are basically language-animals and can be manipulated if one finds the key to the usage of this linguistic communication. Lacan argues in his seminal textLanguage and the Self( 1997 ) that the societal freedoms attained by Westerners in the past half century hold given them Westerners unprecedented chances to reflect their innermost ‘self’ , their basic human constituency, through new cultural media such as telecasting, the humanistic disciplines, and by derivation, manner and our pick of media. Lacan argues further that the ‘self’ of antecedently repressed groups such as adult females, homophiles, African-Americans and so on is now able to attest itself in cultural signifiers that had antecedently been repressed for centuries, and which are now spliting out in the diverseness of artforms prevalent in our society today. Nonetheless, through his chief scientific and philosophical probe into the language-animal, Lacan argues that Westerners have been seduced by the clever and advanced selling runs of the major manner trade names, who use mottos and images to aim specific societal groups. Therefore Lacan explains the phenomenal seduction of modern Western adult male to the worded mottos of interior decorator labels and famous person endorsed merchandises. Lacan suggests that the advertisement runs of major manner trade names seduce the consumer’s unconscious straight and that this explains the phenomenon of mass conformance to such a homogenous type of personal look through manner as is apparent in our society.

Section 4: Decision

In the concluding analysis, the literature of the manner and selling texts on the topic of individualism vs. conformance, and the influence of branding upon this relationship, reveals the undermentioned points. First, that a funny and complex paradox deeply underpins the kineticss between individualism and conformance. To the one side, the release of adult females, homophiles, once repressed racial groups, underprivileged categories and others, in the 2nd half of the twentieth-century, has led to a immense mass of people in Western society who have antecedently impossible freedom to have on whatever manners and types of vesture they believe best express their individualism and singularity. For case, gender biass removed, adult females can now have on pants ; race biass worsening, repressed groups can have on a metropolis suit or opera dinner jacket ; in many other cases Westerners are free to dress as nevertheless their temper, doctrine and business slopes them. On the other manus, the ceaseless acclivity to prominence and huge power of the great manner houses and manner trade names has led to a cover of homogeneousness being spread over the personal look of many Western consumers. Philosophers like Lacan, and psychologists like Freud and Nietzsche, suggest that adult male has an innate herd inherent aptitude that compels him to conform to the tendencies of the crowd and to seek a higher authorization and leading to make up one’s mind and enforce his personal look upon him. Harmonizing to this position, despite the freshly attained freedom of Westerners, they have substituted for the old infliction of gender and category barriers the new authorization of the mass merchandise and the celebrated trade name. Thus ‘personal choice’ and ‘freedom of look of personality’ through vesture are simply semblances that do non match to modern world. Furthermore, the conformance of modern Western frock is, harmonizing to D. Crane ( Crane, 2004 ) , even more intense today than in other centuries, since in 2005 peculiar manners and mass produced vesture points – Crane gives Levi’s denims as an illustration – permeate all categories and genders of society and hence have a ‘total domain of conformance and influence’ ; in other centuries a peculiar point or manner of vesture would merely rule one societal group ; today trade names like Nike, Zara, Levi’s, Armani and so on, can perforate the personal look of every societal group from top to bottom.

However, the flourishing of reactionist and rebellious manners looks such as hood and Gothic, every bit good as the profuseness of little individualistic interior decorators and such manners as cultural suggest that the mass produced manner points have non and will non rule wholly and may even be forced back a small as personal look is allowed to blossom in the new signifiers and vesture manners of the 21st century. Our concluding words might be these: that the inquiry of conformance vs. individualism now hangs in a delicate balance and equilibrium, that Western society pivots at a critical minute in the history of its ability to be able to specify itself. The chance exists for Westerners to daze the universe with an flower of new manners of vesture that reflect the cultural diverseness, racial integrating, and category assimilation achieved in the past 50 old ages. The danger remains however that these accomplishments and possible look will be swamped by the relentless March of mass consumer manner and our seduction to it.

Section 5: Bibliography

Academic Books, Journals & A ; Articles

– Barnard, M. ( 1996 ) Manner as Communication, Routledge

– Barthes, R. ( 1967, 1983 ) . The Fashion System, New York: Hill and Wang.

– Bruzzi Stella & A ; Church, P.G. ( 2000 ) .Manner Cultures Theories,

Explorations and Analysis, Routledge

– Craik, J. ( 1994 )The Face of Fashion ; Cultural Studies in Manner, London:


– Crane, D. ( 2004 ) .Manner and Its Social Agenda: Class, Gender and Identity in Clothing.Oxford University Press, Oxford.

– Davys, F. ( 1985 ) . ‘Clothing and manner as communicating‘ , in Solomon, M. R.

( erectile dysfunction. )The Psychology of Fashion, Massachusetts: Lexington Books.

– Davys, F. ( 1993 ) .Manner, Culture and Identity, Chicago, IL: Chicago University


– Du Gay, P. ( 1996 ) .Consumption and Identity at Work, London: Sage.

– Fiske, J. ( 1990 ) .Introduction to Communication Surveies, London: Routledge

– Freud, S. ( 1900 ) .The Interpretation of Dreams.Penguin, London.

– Lacan, J. ( Reprinted 1997 ) .Language of the Self, Baltimore, MD. : Johns Hopkins

University Press

– Mead, G. H. ( 1934 ) .Mind, Self and Society, From the Standpoint of a Social

Behaviorist, Chicago, IL. : University of Chicago Press

– Miles, S. ( 1998 ) .Consumerism as a Way of Life, London: Sage Publications

– Nietzsche, F. ( 1888 ) .Ecce Homo.Peter Gast Books, Basel.

– Oddity, R. ( Et al. ) . ( 1989 ) .The Oxford English Dictionary.Oxford University Press, Oxford.

– Radford, R. , ‘Dangerous Liaison: Art, Fashion and Individualism‘ , Fashion

Theory, vol. 2, issue 2, Oxford: Berg, 1998, pp. 151-64.

– Rosenfeld, L. B. and Plax, T. G. ( 1997 ) . ‘Clothing as communicating‘ , Journal of

Communication, 27: 24-31.

– Smith, A. ( 1759/1976 ) .The Theory of the Moral Sentiments, Edinburgh.

Internet Beginnings

– Mead, G. H. ( 1934 ) .Mind, Self and Society, From the Standpoint of a Social

Behaviorist, Chicago, IL. : University of Chicago Press

hypertext transfer protocol: //

– Smith, A. ( 1759/1976 ) .The Theory of the Moral Sentiments, Edinburgh.

hypertext transfer protocol: //

– Rhodes, A. & A ; Zuloago, R. ( 2003 ) .A semiotic Analysis of High Fashion


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