Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fashion & Upward Mobility

I spent the weekend at the Reaffirming Ethnic Awareness and Community Harmony Retreat, an annual event put on by UC Davis' very own Cross Cultural Center. In light of recent economic difficulties and the sharp fee increases at the University of California, the retreat paid special attention to socioeconomic class and classism as a way of understanding privilege and oppression.

Reading a book about fashionology while on this retreat was an interesting experience to me. In a classless society, fashion would look entirely different if it could even exist at all. So what role, if any, does fashion play in the maintenance of class and classism?

As I embark on an upwardly mobile life, moving from a poor area of Sacramento to the significantly more wealthy community of Davis to attend college, and then onto graduate school elsewhere in the country... I can't help but notice my own fashion has changed. My pants have gotten skinnier over the years, my shirts have become more expensive. You could say that this is the result of fashion changing since high school or that because I'm getting older, my own style is also developing. But you could just as easily say that in order for me to increase my economic status, I am also required to change my use of clothing.

Yuniya Kawamura discusses class in Fashion-ology, writing that fashion is a way by which social strata are differentiated. In my case, fashion is not simply a peripheral component in my mobility from poor Sacramento to wealthier Davis, but a key component in that upward mobility.

Can someone move from a poor, uneducated socioeconomic class, to a wealthier, college-educated socioeconomic class without similarly adjusting their use of fashion?

Mo Torres
Post #2

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