Sociological Perspectives of Fashion and the Apparel Industry

Can appeals to exclusivity and quality — either through high-performance gear or luxury fashion # be successful in changing consumer behavior? Why or why not? utilized both a review of the literature and one on one interviews with young fashion consumers to conduct a study on the sustainability of fashion consumer trends and practices. According to these authors, consumer behavior can be changed through the influence of luxury fashion. The authors state that consumers are primarily driven by both the dream-like quality of high fashion and the low-cost of what they call “fast fashion”, which refers to “low- cost clothing collections that mimic current luxury fashion trends”.

The reason fast fashion is so appealing is because it offers short-term satisfaction to the desire and appeal of more luxury fashionr While satisfactory for the short term, this creates sustainability problems However, the authors state that luxury fashion brands can “unite the ideals of fashion with those of environmental sustainability” (Joy et alt, 2012, p 274). Because the consumers recognize the desirability of high fashion, primarily due to its quality and exclusivity, luxury fashion designers and producers have sway, and can encourage sustainability both by modeling sustainable practices and encouraging their consumers to act with long-term, sustainable thinking. Is deviancy appearance-related? Why or why not? Hebdidge (1979) provides quite a bit of insight into this question, as he examines the deviancy of subcultures in the 20‘” century from a sociological standpoint.

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The author does not appear to engage in any empirical methodology, but rather assesses the content of various subcultures from behind a sociological lens. According to Hebdige deviancey is appearance related in the way that humans and society assign meaning to what he calls “mundane objects”. The author presents several ways in which deviancy in subculture uses appearance, The first is inherent: mundane objects take on a “symbolic dimension” when appropriated in a way that draws attention. Second, deviance is related to appearance because language is relatively inflexible when compared to imagery. Simply put, social order is more easily challenged by Visual stimuli. Finally, and related to this, subculture can more easily adapt style, visual images, and objects to stand apart from the rest of society, and in effect communicate its overall message How can using one’s dress to make a political statement be a double-edged sword?

Portwood-Stacer (2013) addresses this question in her discussion of the anarchist subculture specifically. While the author does not offer much by way of empirical methodology — at least in this chapter of the book – she does engage the existing literature and informal interview participants in a way that makes for a compelling narrative account of political dissent. First, the author presents anarchism as a subculture as one that is consciously attempting to make a political statement through the presentation of self. in short, the subculture is about resisting the mainstream. The author contends that this is a double-edged sword because of its implication, The ‘positive’ edge is the democratization of the subculture by taking the time to understand it and adapt to the “symbolic markers”. This is the positive side because it can lead to increased membership, which most subcultures would inherently desire.

The other edge, however, is the possibility of too many people adopting the subculture. This puts it in danger of becoming mainstream; in turn, this defies the whole point of a subculture in the first place, with no more social boundaries to separate it from what it is trying to defeat or be separate from. Compare Blumer’s macro-level perspective of fashion to Davis’s micro-level explanation. Both Blumer and Davis seek to modify earlier theories of fashion: Blumer wishes to replace Simmel’s theory and Davis wants to refine Barthes’ theory. What problems do Blumer and Davis identify with earlier ideas about fashion? Blumer (1969) and Davis (1992) both address fashion from a sociological perspective, just twenty-two years apart The two authors also take different approaches; Blumer has a macro perspective, which means that he focuses on the sociological field of fashion as a whole and addresses theories in and of themselves, and as they relate to society.

In contrast, Davis (1992) focuses on interpersonal relationships, presentation of self, elements of fashion, and the existing theories that address these micro elements Because of these differing approaches, the two scholars come to two different conclusions about the problems with earlier sociological ideas and theories regarding fashiont Blumer (1969) finds problems inherent in the sociological studies themselves: a failure to recognize the wide range of fashion, the failure to recognize that fashion can have significance to society and social relations, the failure to recognize that fashion falls within the “mainstream of human group life”, and an overall failure to understand the true nature of fashion. In this way, Davis (1992) offers ways in which the sociological field can be improved Davis, in contrast, asks a more micro question: that is, the nature of the statement that is made with fashion.

He contends that sociology has duly found the relationship between fashion and social and personal meanings, but not how the process of personal statements worksi Therefore, Davis (1992) offers an updated sociological view on the clothing code, What are the social costs of the ‘race to the bottom’ in the apparel industry? Ross (2004) examined the wages and costs of thirty-four fashion suppliers that accounted for nearly 95 percent of all American apparel imports. The scholar found that wages decreased by 6 percent in the three years between 1998 and 2001. The author uses these statics — along with anecdotal and journalistic stories – to point out the social costs of global competition in fashion, which he calls the “race to the bottom” — that is, reaching the bottom line.

The biggest social cost, according to Ross (2004), is the effect on individual factory workers that produce these fashion items: as he states, “the overall picture is one of workers without rights enduring extremely harsh conditions” (p. 111). Throughout his discussion, it is clear that this reality is true of many countries, from China to Nicaragua In short, it is clear that the demand for cheap by trendy clothing drives prices down due to competition, which in turn drives down the wages of the workers who produce the apparel in the first place.

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Sociological Perspectives of Fashion and the Apparel Industry. (2023, May 10). Retrieved from