Sunday, May 31, 2009

EBay: An Institutionalized System

This week's reading in Fashionology, we looked at how fashion can be understood as an institutionalized system that can be studied empirically wherein all individuals involved from the designer to the manufacturer to the consumer perpetuate the ideology of fashion (Kawamura, 39). In the chapter she explores not only her own understanding of the fashion instution but also those of many other theorists. What makes fashion as an institution is the complex structure that involves the many levels of production and consumption. Buying new goods is central to the compact challenge, therefore taking me out of the institution, kind of. Last year I tore a major hole in the crotch of my denim overalls at a barbeque. Distraught and in need of a new pair, I scoured the department stores and malls to find a new pair to no avail. Faced with oncoming Davis summer heat, I turned to eBay to find a new pair. I was able to buy the exact same pair of overalls for that I had ruined for $7.95 plus shipping! Just as the new millenia adage goes, "You can find anything on eBay!"

EBay has not only become a company, but an institution in its own right. It involves all those in the fashion institution, but now also includes individuals who have made purchases and can build their own mini-company by reselling items. These individuals add more factors and levels of production when they ship items, post up new items, etc. EBay enables fashion trends to flourish with the sale of cheaper imitations of designer items and sometimes designer items listed at cheaper prices. Many times fashionistas buy pieces from a designer's collection from the current season, but once the season passes, has no more use of the garment. However, trends usually do not fall out that quickly for the masses and many other people would still be willing to wear last Fall's Prada for a fraction of the price. eBay also presents an outlet for many struggling designers whose clothes may not be appreciated by the masses but as "Fashion-ology suggests...any item of clothing is capable of being appreciated and can be turned into fashion" (45). So there might just be a few people who may like a certain aesthetic and more likely than not, you can find it on eBay. Just like in the instution of fashion, there are those with higher status and those whose command certain categories. These people are called "Power Sellers" and have more "Star Power" than others. They obtain star power by receiving consistent positive feedback and they are easily accessed by going to the "Stores" option on the eBay homepage. Regular people are able to build names and businesses out of their items and just as in fashion, make a name out of themselves by providing quality services and products.

So when you need something new, look no farther than eBay and you are sure to find it!

Raphael Sarmiento
Blog #5

Kawamura, Fashionology

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