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Fashion Concepts and Theory Notes.docx

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FSN 223

Week 1: Chapter 1 (p19-61) The Fashion Impulse 1/15/2013 7:54:00 PM 1. Investigating the Fashion Impulse (p19)  Clothing is a complex system of cultural communication.  Expresses collective and individual identity, part of social performance  Some argue that fashion is a cultural practice that coincides with capitalism and consumer culture (we argue against this notion)  Fashionable impulses: constantly changing stylistic registers  The label of “customary dress” ignores individuality  Examples of early fashion shaped by individual taste: Europe, Canadian fur trade, Japanese fashions in tattooing, etc. o Show that fashion impulses were not much different from those of today Individual taste has been limited historically with sumptuary laws 2. Color and Fashion Throughout Time (p34)  Color has historically been used to identify hierarchy or symbolism in societies i. Cost of dyes tied together color and social elites ii. Chinese mourning rituals  Lecture Notes:  Explore relationships between fashion and :  Sociology  Psychology  Anthropology  Fine art  Business  History  Lecture topics:  The Fashion Impulse: difference between “fashion”, “dress”, “clothing”. Does fashion exist outside consumer culture?  Fashion Cycles, Symbols, and Flows: how does fashion borrow from history? Semiotic perspectives, the diffusion of a style  Fashion and Representation: how does fashion communicate ideas about sexuality, race, gender, class, etc.  The Eurocentric Fashion System: the emergence of fashion capitals, Canadian fashion  Fashion, Body Techniques and Identity: how do we use fashion to express our identity?  Fashion, Aesthetics, and Art: can fashion be seen as high art?  Fashion as a Business and Cultural Industry: fashion marketing, business statistics  Popular Culture and Fashion: emergence of user-generated content  The Politics of Fashion: criticism of industry standards, exploitation, labor, etc   The Fashion Impulse: Key Terms: o Dress vs. Fashion vs. Style o Fad (short term style) vs. Trend (direction fashion is moving) vs. Classic (timeless) o Anti-Fashion (an outfit considered outside of fashion) vs. Fashionable (conforms to fashion)  Fashion can emerge from a style that’s initially considered anti-fashion 3 Main Elements of Fashion i. Fashion is a system of communication convey our identity, class, etc. message changes over time ii. Fashion helps us define ourselves individually and collectively  Can be reflective of self esteem  Desire to stand out or blend in iii. The Essence of Fashion is Change The fashion impulse: see p 20, p 48 for full definition o constantly changing clothing codes and stylistic registers that balance the impulse to belong to a group and the individual desire to stand out  the fashion paradox: balance between individual and group identity, current and classic, etc. o sumptuary laws, dress regulation Does fashion exist beyond consumer culture? o Historical influences Does fashion exist beyond western culture? o Conventions that other cultures did not adapt fashions until western influence  Ex: Aboriginal beaded moccasins, Japanese kimonos Week 2: 1/15/2013 7:54:00 PM   What is a theory?  A lens to understand a phenomenon: one perspective  Multiple views: important to consider different perspectives when considering fashion  What are fashion cycles and flows? Trickle-up, down, and across Cultural appropriation  Trickle down:  Trends start among the elite and move down to the masses  Oldest and most documented theory in fashion  Introduced by Thorstein Veblen: o saw a very visible class of wealthy people that looked very different from lower classes, could afford best new products that eventually were copied by lower classes o Conspicuous consumption: idea that people spend money and purchase goods to publicly display their status George Simmel: applied this idea to fashion specifically o 3 stages: the elite wanted to differentiate themselves from other classes, lower class copied the upper class, once lower class copied the upper class would change their look to achieve differentiation o opposing forces: imitation and differentiation Grant McCracken: wrote “Culture and Consumption” o Observes that modern society is not as rigidly based on the wealthy o Power and influence are more important than wealth: these are the new elite Ex: H&M collaborations   Who are the fashion leaders today? o People most in public eye, general public, etc. ? o Are some consumer groups consistently excluded?  Trickle up:  Trends start among the masses and move upward to the fashion leaders  Meaning is totally different once taken on by elite  “status float phenomenon”: o emergence of cultural tension, formation of sub-cultures  same movement as trickle up: once the other group adopted the style, the original group moves on  Ted Polhemus: o Introduced “street style” and how it influenced key designers o People wanted something authentic and individual, drove them to want to belong to a sub-culture o Ex: denim started with working class, punk movement and Vivienne Westwood, vintage  Bloggers to magazines  Designers often look to subcultures for inspiration  Internet: globalization of style, combination of multiple sources of inspiration, “style surfing” Has street style been co-opted by the fashion elite? o Fashion elite being featured in street style blogs o Authenticity lost Trickle across theory:  Fashion moves horizontally between leaders and masses at the same social level  Debated: increased rate of fashion production creates illusion of simultaneous appearance although lower level markets are knocking off the high-end brands almost immediately (ex: Zara, “fast fashion”) o Line between “inspired by” and copying  Critique and rejection of trickle down theory Culture Appropriation:  Adoption of elements of one culture by another culture  Removed from original context and take on new meaning  “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission”  harmful when the source is a minority  why is this acceptable?  Western privilege, not thinking outside of our viewpoint  why is it harmful?  Misrepresentation of culture  Dehumanizes and devalues  Removes context and meaning  When can we ethically borrow? (Susan Scafidi)  Has the source been involved in the creation or production process? Has the culture played a role in their representation in the creative process?  Consider the cultural significance of the item that may require respect or value  How similar is the appropriate element from the original? Literal knockoff or just slightly reminiscent  Context and sharing:  Offer more background information, provide context Can a culture claim ownership over designs?  The complexity of cultural appropriation?  Who are the stakeholders of a culture?  Does intellectual property constrain creativity?  How can you ethically borrow from cultures Fashion Cycles: Recycling Fashion:  Historic continuity: new fashions logically develop from immediately preceding styles  Shifting erogenous zones: fashion changes according to what part of the body is sensually valued  Pendulum swing: fashion changes from one extreme to the polar opposite  Dynamic cycle or recurring wave: trends repeat themselves  Historicism or retro: elements of a past style reintroduced in a different way Fashion Symbols: “the language of clothes”  The clothes we wear and how we put them together convey a specific meaning  Codified rules about garments, accessories, and combining these to create particular looks  can convey the specific political and social conditions of a particular era  semiotics: reveal meanings that are built into human products ***, the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior; the analysis of systems of communication, as language, gestures, or clothing.  its impossible to wear clothes without sending a message  Roland Barthes:  Focused on semiotics  Wrote “the fashion system”, “elements of semiology”  Fashion as a system of communication  How do I interpret fashion? The Five Stages of the Fashion Cycle 1. Introduction of a style 2. Increase in popularity 3. Peak in popularity 4. Decline in popularity 5. Rejection of a style Week 3: Noreen Flanagan, Elle Canada & Fashion and Representation 1/15/2013 7:54:00 PM Noreen Flanagan, Editor in chief of Elle Canada  Working to incorporate diversity in their issues  Hard to predict customer response to risks with range of models  Magazines tend to act as dictating what is socially acceptable  Consumers play equal role with purchasing power o “Herriot” example  Elle used a black model, cover was more aesthetically pleasing but did not do well in sales  Career background: Studied nursing at U of A  Started in psychiatry working with girls with eating disorders  Introduced to journalism while travelling  Went back to school for journalism, worked at small newspaper on Vancouver island while editing a small fishing magazine on the side despite being a vegetarian  Never touched on fashion for first 6-7 years in journalism  Started at Flare as health editor. Stayed for 3 years.  Always keep your eyes open for unexpected opportunities, be open to unplanned experiences Debate on Print vs. Online  Newsstand sales decreased, becoming less relevant  Lose “reader per issue” statistics  Have to look for something to offer that you can’t get in print  Include more content from shoots online  Different goals from audiences ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lecture: Fashion and Representation  Complexity of relationship between media and designers in terms of who’s represented and how they’re represented  How imagery within the industry conveys meaning Conventions that explain the representation of women in fashion:  Jean Kilbourne  Deconstruct advertisements’ meaning and messages  Ashley Mears  “Pricing Beauty: the making of a fashion model”  why do some models succeed while others don’t despite having similar look  The Western Beauty Ideal  Normative body promoted in fashion (global idea)  34-24-34 (hip/waist/bust ratio), 5’10-5’11, size 0-2 typically ideal for models o unrealistic for most women ideal has been slimming over time o today models weigh 23% less than average women, while models in the 90s were only 8% less Charles Worth: o British fashion designer, first to use “models” rather than mannequins Cristobal Balenciaga: o Typically used shorter, stockier women that better suited his clothes Ideals of size have changed over time and country Historically and culturally specific What is the meaning of only thin models?  Exclusive glamorization of one body type: conveys that there is only ONE ideal size…becomes naturalized as the most beautiful  Fear of women’s power: women’s rising economic and social status (feminist interpretation)  Aesthetic of the fashion dictates the body type What is the impact of ultra thin models?  Maintain a distinction between luxury and mass brands  Air of exclusivity  Economic objective: o Create a gap between model and consumer’s body to create demand, fuel an insecurity  “unreachable beauty”  Sample size: o Pre production and planning requires few sizes produced, therefore a specific model to fit the size provided  Race and representation o Less ethnic representation within the fashion industry o “whitewashing”: most racially diverse season ever still included almost 80% Caucasian models o despite issue being brought up in the 60s, there is still an underrepresentation of racial diversity o ethically lite vs. exotic ethnicity o First Black Model on Vogue  Beverly Johnson, first black model on Vogue with no obscurities o Reasons Why Designers are not Hiring Black Models  “Black Face” makeup – offensive  Hair, skin colour, history Objectification:  Reducing a person’s worth and role to their sexual function  Disregards person’s character, personality, and intelligence  Fashion advertising o “the gaze” beginning with renaissance paintings, male perspective Dismemberment:  Ads highlight one part of the body and ignore the rest  Effect: person doesn’t become a whole human being, but instead one sexualized part  How do these conventions apply to men? The Male Western Beauty Ideal: o 6’-6’2, 28” waist, etc. o also see slimming over time o either hyper masculine or slender o same categories of racial ideas: ethnically lite vs. exotic ethnicity o objectification/gaze/dismemberment   Week 5: The EuroCentric Fashion System 1/15/2013 7:54:00 PM The Eurocentric Fashion System  Fashion capitals  Paris historically always known as the world’s fashion capital  First, Haute Couture, then pret-a-porter (ready-to-wear), then avant-garde Charles Worth: House of Worth (Recall from previous week, was first to use live models)  1858: thought to be the birth of Haute Couture and the European system of fashion  looked at both past and future to develop designs  Developed changes in the industry: o Role of the Designer:  Radical that he was male designing for females. Previously dressmakers were all women  Shifted gender dynamics  Created collection of gowns, allowed clients to choose with some customizations o The Business Model  Created 2 distinct lines: one for elite clients, one for less wealthy  Presented collections on live models, had a series of house models to model the clothes that would wear his collections to events as a marketing tools House of Worth: o Currently under Giovanni Bedin Parisian Federation of High Fashion:  Started around 1858 as well  Ensured that the industry was organized and remained exclusive  First formal organization of fashion  Eventually started a fashion school  Regulated which houses are allowed to use the term “haute couture” New Business Strategy:  Licensing, diffusion lines  Declining customer base  Increased competition  Efficient financial management o Bernard Arnault  Is haute couture irrelevant or important today?  Does culture have anything to say to the modern woman?  Since fashion is international, does haute couture need to be in Paris? Challenging Paris as the Fashion Capital:  What are the new non-western fashion capitals? o Shanghai: the 6 thfashion capital? o Defining and branding Chinese fashion  “Made in China” is generally seen as a negative label To be a fashion capital, do local designers need to have a distinctive local or Western style? What constitutes a national fashion industry? Is it the nationality of designers or of production? Do diaspora influence the success of national fashion industries in their countries of origin? The Fashion City Typology: 1. Economic Capital (money and resources) 2. Social Capital (networks of influence/support) 3. Cultural Capital (regimes of taste, is there a local style?) 7 Specific Fashion City Elements: 1. Training and research institutions 2. Skilled and specialized subcontractors 3. Promotional infrastructure 4. Design tradition 5. Fashion Consumption 6. Links between fashion and cultural industries 7. Links within fashion industry Keys to building a fashion city:  Independent boutiques  Effective fashion weeks (networking, create fashion identity, links other cultural activities) Toronto: A fashion city?  3rd largest design workforce in North America  Toronto Fashion Incubator: first fashion incubator in the world, later adopted by 30 other international cities o Space for emerging designers to share for productivity o Provide a platform for emerging designers o Business resource for fashion entrepreneurs Week 6 1/15/2013 7:54:00 PM The Plus Size and Between Sizes Market Guest Speaker: Liz Windischmann Plus size model, been in plus size industry for 19 years Explored availability of fashion to plus size customers o Limited sizes and availability, poor fit o Often advertise that they offer plus sizes but are hard to actually find o Limitations also extend to swimwear, maternity wear o Often only available online or other countries Despite limitations, market is wide open and growing o Should be addressed in marketing, editorials: relate to actual customer Editorials are featuring more plus size models, but often nude or lingerie spreads since no sample sizes fit MODE magazine: o featured plus size fashions, created niche for designers to use plus size models in advertisements that were also used in other (non “plus”) magazines o several other plus size magazines that did not quite address plus size customers’ desires o SLiNK magazine, beautiful, both out of UK Runway shows: o Rarely include plus lines o Using more smaller sized models as “plus” models (size 6-8, not actually plus size)  Sends negative message to plus customers  Also sends message to thinner women that they are plus when they’re not o Also consider footwear for runway: stilettos are unrealistic for a 200lb woman Also applies to accessories What Companies Do to “Save Money”  “Also available in plus sizes”  “Plus sizes available online”  Only make small sample sizes of PR usage  Use only 0-4 in ads to represent all size ranges Fashion, The Body, and Identity  The Social Body (pg. 136 - 139)  The natural body is transformed to the social body by clothing and post- natal rituals prescribed by cultural mores  Our bodies are trained in appropriate ways of behaviours in the context in which we live  Our Bodies Are Not Natural  Our Bodies Are Conduits of Power  Capital Cultural (ability to rise to a higher power because we follow the fashion context set out for us) The Difference Between Sex and Gender  Sex – the biological distinction  Gender – the lifestyle that a person wishes to emulate  We are born male or female, but not masculine or feminine. Femininity and masculinity is an artifice, an achievement. Fem
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