Saturday, May 30, 2009


After I read Kawamura’s article, I started thinking about fashion as an institutional system. Specifically, I started thinking about my fashion choices and the conventions that dictate the worth of my clothes and the context in which my clothes are worn.

“Fashion, as an institution, produces hierarchy among all makers of clothes by adding social, economic, cultural, and symbolic capital to clothes…luxury clothes are only meaningful only in relation to non-luxury clothes…luxury items provide a sense of superiority as an image and added values are attached to them.”

The first thing I thought about when reading this quote is the professionals in fields such as law and business. I thought about the lifestyle that has developed out of this professional culture and the conventions that dictate what kind of fashion is accepted in these fields. This made me think about the Kawamura quote because I started questioning what it means to have on a black suit versus what it means to have on a torn pair of jeans. Why is it not acceptable to wear the latter in the court of law? It is because there is a symbolic meaning behind the suit that gives it status in the professional world.

Because these dress codes are so rigid, it is often difficult to deviate from the white dress shirt black slacks norm. But what about the consumer culture behind professional attire? It doesn’t seem like the professional field really encourages the reuse of clothing, nor does it seem to encourage combining unique colorful pieces within the outfit. I think that this is one of the ways that the professional field keeps itself distinctive from those that can’t afford this type of fashion.

What about the bubble up process of fashion where it is the consumers who dictate what is and what is not fashion? Could that ever work in law or business attire? How can one fight this luxurious consumer culture in a field that so dependent on luxurious spending? Where attire can make or break one’s climb up the corporate ladder?

p.s. Do you know how much karma debt I’d have to pay as an Asian child if I didn’t make it into law school…?

fashion as an institutionalized system, "fashion-ology"

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