Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When Fashion Speaks

There are fashion terms and slang from haute couture to sample size. This site will de-code fashion as a non-verbal medium for communicating values. This is fashion as meta-language with many small messages.

-a social system: the cycle of popularity (“in fashion”), which includes any object

Fashion the object is a medium that expresses the values of the social system.

Georg Simmel was a German sociologist who was one of the first to identify fashion as a social system. He analyzed “animal man” at the turn of the 20th century and suggested that fashion only happens when formal societies with class structures exist. Primitive societies do not have fashion as a social system of change. He believed that capitalism created the defensive elite class that used clothing to separate themselves from the lower classes.

Fashion is a tool for both union and segregation.

What Simmel found is imitation dominants social groups. Lower classes try to imitate upper classes and stay up with the codes which were made more available through fashion magazines.

There are however strange “classics” that endure and resist change. These are known as clothing codes while seasonal forms are fashion codes. Simmel also suggested that fashion had the ability to absorb any content or style. So while fashion may seem “natural” to us, it is a social construction that we can deconstruct.

Most designers use concepts based on inspiration from many different sources that result in a theme.

Fashion messages are by contrast, consistent codes that re-appear across fashion to communicate the same values.

Decoding fashion messages is a process of observing existing, consistent codes in the clothing, image and brand and exposing the values. Below the message of seduction is represented by each form.

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