Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Envious Consumer

Is there a parallel between emulation and imitation? If an individual in the lower social hierarchy is emulate of the higher status, why would they want to imitate? Is imitation really the best form of flattery? The truth of the matter is we love to by copied. Consumer would not adopt fashion nor wish to be fashionable if no one seems to care. Through emulation or imitation, people in the lower social hierarchy can attempt towards a higher status. Individuals in lower status are able to borrow status markets of the higher class. People might also choose to copy someone they admire without considering his or her status. Kawamura in “Adoption and Consumption of Fashion” states that the distinction and differences between fashion and anti-fashion, and rich and poor, among many other social categories, are breaking down (103). As such, being fashionable has to be something that is envied and desired.

According to Karen Rafferty in “Lost in Transformation,” she argues that’s luxury items have lost its luster. Fashion houses began to target the mass, primarily the middle class. With mass production, quality and craftsmanship started to be compromised. Is that what Kawamura means when social categories are breaking down? Today, almost anyone can consume luxury fashion. Consumption is not considered in isolation because consumption and production are complementary to one another. Mass consumption came with mass production.

Department stores have lent a hand in the consumption of goods. Department stores not only have provided a place to find and purchase goods, but to “inflame people’s material desires and feelings” (93). Stores are able to change tastes and preferences, purchase behavior, relationship between buyer and seller, and marketing techniques. As decisive agents, department stores basically tell us what we need and want. In postmodern times, social class is less evident and important in one’s self image and identity in contemporary society than before (99). If you haven’t noticed, every department store carries the same thing. Even if a consumer does not like an item, they eventually will warm up to it because of it constantly being in your face. My own experience: I use to hate leggings, but after seeing it at every store, I decided to give it a try and now I love them (not a very good example)! My point is, is that’s the problem; the consumer culture is constantly being primed or told what we should like. And just like mousses, the consumer culture is led into the deadly mouse trap.

Fashion involves “overt consumption” that makes one’s style and preferences accessible to others. This is particularly true in that we often buy things to “show off.” People acquire goods to compete with others. Fashion and clothing are used as symbols of social position and status. Conspicuous consumptions are for the purpose of impressing others and society at large. According to Kawamura, fashion was originally defined as dress up , but the concept of dressing down began to emerge in democratic societies as class boundaries became to less rigid. Although fashion has become less rigid, fashion is still the key ingredient to social status and prestige among the rich and famous.

This brings me to update you guys on my Compact Challenge: I’ve been pretty good this whole week! I was busy Monday-Friday with school, work, and internship. Although I’m only walking distance away from the mall at my internship, I conjured up the courage to stay away. I haven’t bought anything since I stayed in all weekend due to a horrible allergic reaction (boo!). The only time I went out this weekend was to go eat. On a good note (from my allergic reaction) was I got myself out of buying a house warming present for a friend. HAHA!

Maggie Chui

Blog # 8

Works Cited

Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies.New York: Berg, 2005.

Rafferty, Karen. “Lost in Transformation? How Class-Based Emotions Shape Fashion Consumption Practice.” 1 Dec. 2009. Web. 21 Feb. 2010.

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