Sunday, February 21, 2010

Celeb and Media Culture in American Fashion

Kawamura's article on "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion" was interesting as the idea of subculture, self-identity, and fashion is also prevalent and interconnected in our American culture. Fashion became a rebellion for the youth in Japan, who saw dressing in ganguro, mamba, lolita, and other street styles, as a reflection of their self-identity in a confused society of disillusionment and alienation and a "shift away from old ideology". The youth culture in Japan and the youth themselves were in charge of fashion production, with the "fashionable" teens being approached to work for the designers. This means that the street fashion and the youth that is directly a part of that culture is also directly a part of the fashion business.

This pattern of fashion business survival can also be seen in American culture. Whereas Japanese culture was focused on street wear, high school girls and the trend setting salesgirls who created their own symbols of identity through dramatic make up and dress, American culture has focused their self-identity on the media--particularly popular celebrities who are often found as topics of media blogs. This can be reflected in the way fashion business has changed over time: now, celebrities like Sienna Miller (Twenty8Twelve), Kate Moss (Top Shop), Rachel Bilson, Kim Kardashian (Bebe), Lindsay Lohan (Emanuel Ungaro), Jessica Simpson, even Avril Lavigne, have become directly involved in fashion lines, many becoming fashion advisers, or having their own fashion lines that are marketed under their names.

In addition to the fashion ideas of celebrities being used directly in fashion houses, we have many of these same celebrities being used in marketing strategies--celebrities modeling in print advertisements, commercials, and attending runway shows (Rihanna and the cast of "Gossip Girl" are getting paid over $30,000 just to sit in the front row of fashion shows). When you open a copy of Vogue or InStyle, the pages are mostly filled with pictures of celebrities on the red carpet, the "how-to" articles telling you what make up to use and hairstyles to do in order to get that Scarlett Johanson look, and even fashion columns written by the celebrities themselves. And who do we see on the covers of magazines? Fashion in America has become highly dependent upon the celebrity and media culture that has taken over.

What I find interesting about this celebrity and media influence on fashion is that these people are not what some would say are qualified to run a fashion house, be designers, etc. They're...celebrities. They simply take pictures, do movies (many bad ones--were any of the celebrities I listed talented?), and go out to the paparazzi ridden restaurants of LA. Thank goodness for the different subcultures like urban street wear...because why let these celebrities be in charge of our symbolic fashion, thus our self-identity?

An update on the Compact Challenge: I still haven't shopped--even for food now, which leads me to replace meals with pasta and cereal. This really is the death of me.

Amethyst Wang
Blog post 8

Kawamura, "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion"
InStyle (
and images from media blogs

No comments: