Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On Fashion

I read two articles related to fashion.  One focused on fashion bloggers while the other addressed the idea of the fashion victim.  Unfortunately neither article was as helpful to my project as I expected though both present interesting arguments.  In "Blog Ambition: Fashion, Feelings, and the Political Economy of the Digital Raced Body," Minh-Ha T. Pham discussed high profile fashion bloggers, particularly Asian American and British Asian fashion bloggers.  The article raised issues of the way fashion blogging is ignored in media discourses about blogging even though political blogs are studied and how this ignores female bloggers even though there are women that blog about politics because many female bloggers focus on culture and fashion (Pham, 2011, 5).  The article also seeks to discuss the way that fashion industry reacts to bloggers and has sought to co-opt bloggers and bring them into the corporate world (Pham, 2011, 11).  Finally it discusses how the democratic nature of blogging has opened fashion and beauty discoures for people who have historically been excluded such as Asian American women (Pham, 2011, 14).  I hoped that this article might talk about fashion blogging more generally rather than focus so much on the issue of the interaction of high profile fashion bloggers and the fashion industry.  There needs to be more study of fashion blogging beyond discussion of popular fashion bloggers particularly in how fashion blogging can help people to construct identity and celebrate bodies that are not seen as beautiful such as queer bodies and fat bodies.

"Fashion Victimes: On the Individualizing and De-individualizing Powers of Fashion" by Bjorn Schiermer takes a more philosophical look at fashion.  Schiermer examines the concept of the fashion victim in modern society.  Schiermer defines fashion victims as people who are too extreme in their fashion choices and who display "individual excess that transcends cultural norms" (Schiermer, 2010, 90).  I found the most interesting part of Schiermer's argument to be about subcultural fashion and anti-fashion.  Schiermer writes,
"Inside the subculture, there are no fashion victims—not because there is too little mimicry, but because there is too much. In fact, the display of uniform subcultural excess often coincides with a strong collective pressure and the existence of a definite and clear-cut symbolic imaginary that alludes to more "primitive" religious societies. On the other hand and in contrast with tribal sociality, the modern counterculture often defines itself through an opposition to commercial fashion dynamics, which are considered the epitome of repression. These groups are, as Davis would have it, not outside of fashion, but antifashion.' In reducing fashion to commercial clothing fashion existing outside in "capitalist" or "materialist" society, antifashion hides its own fashion character. This "externalization" explains why the counterculture does not conceive of its own uniformity in terms of fashion—and consequently why an unprecedented conformity is possible here." (Schiermer, 2010, 90-91)
I found this discussion interesting because I am looking at individuals who are part of the gay and queer subcultures.  Because so much of subcultural identity is based on being perceived as part of that group, fashion becomes very important.  There is a certain level of importance placed on looking gay enough or queer enough to be recognized not only by other members of the group but also by people outside the group.  It may seem odd to people who do not identify with a subculture to want to mark themselves as an "other," but it can be an critical part of forming an identity based on that subcultural belonging to be recognized as being a member.  This can mean that people will choose clothing that may not fit their individual preferences or that erases some of their individual choice in clothing because it makes them look how they think they are supposed to look.



Pham, Minh-Ha T. "Blog Ambition: Fashion, Feelings, and the Political Economy of the Digital Raced Body." Camera Obscura 26, no. 76 (January 2011): 1-37. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost(accessed May 9, 2012).

Schiermer, Bjørn. "Fashion Victims: On the Individualizing and De-individualizing Powers of Fashion."Fashion Theory: The Journal Of Dress, Body & Culture 14, no. 1 (March 2010): 83-104. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed May 9, 2012).

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