Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fashion and Gender

Fashion is expressive. For those of us with the privilege of being able to choose what clothes to wear and which not to wear, we often choose our clothes with a purpose: if I wear this jacket, it says I keep up-to-date on hot trends in the fashion industry; if I wear these jeans, it says I don't care about what's hot or not, but wish solely to dress comfortably.

And perhaps more importantly, fashion is given to us. Even when we create our own clothing from scratch, fashion as a belief system still exists, passed on to us from the media, the arts, the fashion industry, politics, and probably a hundred other places.

Just as we choose our clothing with a purpose, so too do those who create fashion. Yuniya Kawamura writes in Fashion-ology on the connection of fashion with the social position on women, arguing that "women were increasingly constructed as a spectacle even as they remained culturally invisible."

If we buy a particular pair of sneakers with a purpose, then what purpose do those who create fashion have in developing the belief system (fashion) that they do? As clothing remains heavily gendered into the 21st century, what role does fashion play in the maintenance of the gender binary? And even more interestingly, what role will fashion play in the dissolution of gendered roles and the oppression of women and gender noncomforming folks?

Mo Torres
Post #1

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