Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hiding in the Dark

by Paloma Canut

Photo from Numéro 106, September 09, Photographer Sølve Sundsbø

TO HIDE: “verb. Put or keep out of sight; conceal from the view or notice of others. 2 (of a thing) prevent (something or someone) from being seen”

DARK: “with little or no light. 2 hidden from knowledge, mysterious”

The Room, Autumn/Winter 09-10. Photographer: Emilio Tini

The colour black has been attributed with several values, some of them are: darkness, mystery, comfort, power, authority… an endless list of connotations that we are all aware off and take into consideration when using this colour. However, how many people are actually trying to transmit that message through by their choice in outerwear and which message are they trying to send? Are these messages in some way connected?

The Room, Autumn/ Winter 09-10, “Fade into you” Photographer: Dobos Tamás

Black in outerwear can be used to show and let different messages shine through. These messages can all be related and set under the idea of invisibility and darkness. Black has become a uniform for everyone even though for some people it is used as a safety net, as a way of being unnoticed yet still being ‘well-dressed’; others use it in the opposite way, as a form in which they can show off who they really are. These people are trying to let the darkness inside of them shine through to the outside, trying to give light to the dark we all have and try to hide. Although, most of the people tend to use black outerwear and hide, there are many exceptions in which the objective behind the choice of colour is precisely to call for attention, to try to be exposed for everyone to see and have nothing to protect you from the view of the others. It is however our own choice, each time before we leave our house to go outside, to decide what we fill like wearing, what does our gut feeling tell us? And ask ourselves “How do YOU feel today”?

Gareth Pugh, Fall 2008, Images through

See the collaboration with SHOWstudio for AW 2009

East African Ethnicity

by Kelly P. Brett

London designer Christine Mhando of Chichia

East African Ethnicity is recognized around the globe for its unique and prominent attributes, both of which are commonly expressed through the popular usage of kangas. The values and implied messages of the kanga may differ depending on the context in which it is worn or presented. Values, such as diversity, are associated with the message in the Western context; at the same time, values such as communication and love, are associated with the message in the African context. Without deference to the specific values that are associated with it, the presence of the kanga fabric has come to represent a message of East African Ethnicity around the world.

The kanga in original form as a skirt

Above and below, the fabric modified for Western forms

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Dandy

by Stephanie Wu

David Slijper New York 2009 Fall, Style Magazine

The Dandy is a form of lifestyle to some and the clothing is part of that autocratic soul. The dandy was formed to not attract attention for his flamboyancy but known for his sense of style, which are simple, yet, well thought out (colour wise, placement of the shirt, play of mix and match,etc.). The dandy lives his way be it the rich or the romantic wanderer, the dandy is the well-dressed man who lives his own way of life and communicates sophistication, playfulness, and singularity. The overall form that creates the dandy is nostalgia. If one were to try to point out someone wearing something ‘dandy’, it is always referential to the past. In Post Modern Society, and specifically fashion, everything is being a mixed match giving different connotation all at the same time, which can be confusing. But in different forms, we can still identify the overall understanding of the ‘dandy’.

The Satorialist

Kooples, Pocket breast detail, Referencial to tailored clothing

See a a video about Beau Brummell here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Youth & Opposition in Fashion

Youth & Opposition is understood as young people using fashion and forms to express rebellion. But teen rebel style is simply an index to real action, as seen below as teens in Jarkarta willingly take part in a pro-Muslim march using clothing and arms. What we normally find however in Western culture is that the rebel aesthetic is more common than action. The clothing creates "the look of a rebel," standing in for actual political action and thus it is an important study for fashion as communication.

1. What do we observe in reality & media that communicates the message? In reality young people express their opposition through personalized style that includes mixing established forms, wearing oppositional words or signs, mixing gender codes, altering hair, using aggressive adornments or choosing to opt-out of fashion all together for beliefs.

Youth however is especially attractive to fashion because of its freedom of expression and constant re-invention of style. See Diana Vreeland below speaking about surfers and skaters.

The fashion media present youth and opposition as a style.

Youth & opposition is the standard style of musicians.

Rock stars consistently make their opposition visible. Above Kurt Cobain, never in a leather jacket, set a new grunge standard for cotton t's, flannels and converse. Below Converse issued a special edition with notes from Kurt inside.

Carolyn Murphy as Courtney Love, Vogue, November 2001

2. How can we describe the message?
Youth & opposition are commonly understood terms meaning adolescent and young adult, hostile and contradictory expression. The clothing communicates the following values:
Life to live
Free from responsibility
Refuting authority
Refuting Rules
Anti-established forms

3. What writing also expresses this message? In the posts below are readings that explain youth & opposition as well as the classic theory book featured here by Dick Hebdige.

4. What clothing forms communicate this message? Non conformist, DIY, vintage and affordable, ethnic subcultural forms, music subcultural forms, piercing, tattoos, sexual reversal forms, skin covering or revealing selective parts, appropriation/change of authority forms, counterfeiting and deliberate destruction

5. What images communicate this message? Editorials that emphasize young people acting out or rebelling, as well as showing subcultural style.

Metal Magazine, 2008 and David Stewart, Blow Up, 2008

Juergen Teller & Basilio Silva, 2009

Bruce Weber & Stylist Joe McKenna for V 36

Mario Testino, French Vogue, November 2008

6. What brands communication this message? There are a number of brands that associate with teen spirit and rebellion.

Betsey Johnson is interesting because she started after winning the Madamoiselle guest editor contest. She was considered part of the Warhol “youthquake” movement and married a member of Velvet Underground. She started her label in 1978 in New York.

Her logotype and website appear handwritten and she emphasizes her young employees.

Heatherette is an indie brand that uses Myspace as a website and has playful designs and shows.

7. What is a binary message? The suit communicates status quo.

Counterculture & Counterfeit

by Lauren Yi

Bohemian culture communicates a preference for the exotic and was the inspiration for hippies. The origin can be traced to the mid 1800's when dandies displayed pecuniary style through exotic adornments.

Fred Davis, “Antifashion: The Vicissitudes of Negation” pp. 98-99.
What is the context?: This article is an excerpt from his book Fashion, Culture and Identity (1992) describes six types of anti fashion movements. It is written in a contemporary and academic context.
Who is the author?: Fred Davis: a retired professor of sociology at the University of San Diego and made major contribution to cultural studies in his book. His thoughts conclude that much of what we assume to be individual preference actually reflects deeper social and cultural forces.
What is the approach?: Theoretical
What is the terminology?: There are also fashion styles considered actively counterculture. The beatniks, hippies and punks consciously dressed in forms that opposed the status quo. Now many of those forms have been appropriated by designers like Gautier, Moschino or Vivenne Westwood who have made them more common and acceptable.
What is the point of view?: In this section called “Counterculture Insult,” Davis states that counterculture antifashion directly confronts and challenges the symbolic hegemony of the reigning fashion in modern Western democracies; yet he believes that counterculture is symbolically the most powerful form of antifashion tolerated. In other words, it has become accepted part of mainstream fashion.

Counterculture is connected to middle class and suburban youth who use their pocket change to express individuality. Lower classes have less resources to invest in fashion and upper classes tend toward reinforcing existing, conservative power codes.

Counterculture antifashion comes from middle-class youth. Counterculturists distance themselves from and rebel against society’s dominant cultural groups, such as the middle classes. Beatniks, skinheads, hard rockers, heavy metalists are examples of the unconventional dress and forms of outrageous behavior (generally associated with bohemianism in Europe & America in the past). They attempt through its iconoclasms to “debunk and deride” popular fashion instead of just creating its own group. Yet, “these youths exist on closer terms with mainstream cultures than do members of ethic minority or socially deviant marginal groups and carries more cultural point and poignancy.”

The hipster is a colloquial style in that it mixes various forms mass culture. It is counter culture because it is understood through knowing the cultural codes as negated codes.

There is also an interweaving of the world of fashion and the arts. The boundaries separating various “nonconventional” groupings in present-day Western society are very thin. Modifications of certain punk modes have made their way into mainstream fashion. This represents “a kind of symbolic appeasement of the severe intergenerational strife that periodically engages Western society.“ Many designers, especially young ones, tend to draw upon this counterculture anti-fashion look in order to be unique and edgy.

How can it be applied? Examples
Today there are many places for antifashion in its very own domain from contemporary designers like JeanPaul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, and Franco Moschino.

Other fashions during that time: Mod & TeddyBoys
TEDDY BOYS: Teddy boys trend was inspired by the Edwardian style. Men wore dark shades tailored jackets with velvet trim collars, high-waisted trousers and slicked back hair style.
MOD: Tailored jackets with narrow lapels and military parkas were worn by men. Some men would even put on eyeshadow and eyeliner. For women, printed/color-blocked dresses and mini-skirts with flat shoes were very popular and they would put little makeup. Great example of this time was Twiggy.
BEATNIKS: far out of the mainstream society during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The stereotype with men was wearing goatees and berets, rolling their own cigarettes and playing bongos. Fashions for women included black leotards and wearing their hair long, straight and unadorned in a rebellion against the middle class culture of beauty salons.

Audrey Hepburn in 1950s. Black and white were dominant this trend. Women usually wore jumper dresses and skinny jeans or leggings (including opaque stockings and fishnet) Embellishment and funky accessories sometimes necessary for Beatniks style for example berets and sunglasses.

Betsey Johnson fall 2008, the black and red jumper dress with belt was inspired by the Beatniks style. The stocking and sunglasses were essential to complete this trend.

Jefferson Airplane mid 1960s, HIPPIES: Although Hippies style was related to independent and freedom, the silhouette was more loose and flow. Hippies clothing item could include the Afghan coats, Romanian and Indian peasant embroidery, Nehru jackets, and loose flowing robes. Some might call this trend as ethnic look related to Bohemian eclectic ethnic style.

Anna Sui Spring 2009 and What Goes Around Comes Around, Spring/Summer 2010, the vintage-inspired collection created by designer Gerard Maione

Modern day punk

Jean Paul for Levi’s Editorial

Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2007 and Karl Lagerfeld Fall 2007

Punkature (S/S 1983) still had a raw feeling and an emphasis on pre-washed and over-printed natural fabrics. It played on the words ‘punk’ and ‘couture’, and carried images from Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner.
The Hypnos collection featured sleek garments made out of synthetic sports fabric in fluorescent pinks and greens.
Malcolm McLaren: We want to get out of this island mentality, and relate ourselves to those taboos and magical things we believe we have lost.

Vivienne Westwood FALL 2009

Many of the counterculture elements are visible in fashion media, below a street background for an editorial and right the Satorialist for an editorial

Counterculture influenced the Chanel tattoos and the image below in which the couture dress is placed on the ground below the surfer. Steven Klein, A Grand Affair, Vogue 2005

ARTICLE: Brian Hilton, Chong Ju Choi, Stephen Chen: “The Ethics of Counterfeiting in the Fashion Industry,” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Dec., 2004), pp. 345-354.

What is the context?
This is an article from the Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 55, No. 4 written in December of 2004. It analyzes different types of counterfeiting within the fashion industry of high-end clothing and accessories and the ethical issues involved.

Like counterculture, counterfeit goes against the established values of the fashion system by creating an alternative marketplace

Who is the author?
All three authors are staff members of Austrialian National University
Brian Hilton: staff of its Graduate School of Business and is responsible for global collaboration program. He is interested in the complementarities that drive the very distinct ethics that drive respectively public servants and entrepreneurs.
Chong Ju Choi: Senior Lecturer at the National Graduate School of Management. His research interests include the management of knowledge, and intellectual property, entrepreneurship, innovation, and the business-society interface.
Stephen Chen: Dean and Executive Director at the National Graduate School of management. His areas of research are international business, knowledge and creativity management and comparative business systems.
What is the approach?: Theoretical
What is the terminology?: Fashion, business ethics, marketing, counterfeiting

What is the point of view?
There are three types of goods on a spectrum (in the following order): search goods, experience goods and credence goods. Search goods have an “intrinsic worth objectively assessable prior to purchase.” Counterfeiting is difficult in this case because the perceived quality potential buyer and the actual quality, thus cannot be hidden form potential buyers. Experience goods are goods whose qualities are revealed with use or experience. Although the quality as known by the purchaser can diverge from quality as perceived by an external observer, eventually bad experience will have an impact on the reputation of the producer. Credence goods are goods whose quality is difficult to assess before or after purchase and use. Its value can only be known from the credence given to it by others. Therefore, credence goods can easily be counterfeited. “Buyers may attribute various degrees of credence to the quality of these products but they can never do so with absolute certainty.”

Above promotions by the French government indicate laws that are more strict than in the US.

There are four ethical perspectives used to analyze counterfeit products: utilitarianism or ends-based reasoning, distributive justice or equity-based reasoning, the moral rights of man perspective, and ethical relativism. Utilitarian reasoning is a cost/benefits approach to ethical decision-making and states that the most ethical decision is one of that results in the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It states that without intellectual property protection, potential inventors and creators of innovation would cease to create. Thus, primary ethical basis for judgment is the economic good of society. Distributive justice aims for solutions where beneficiaries of the decision receive an equitable distribution of costs and benefits. In other words, you get as much as you input, so if a person makes a greater contribution to a project, he or she would expect a greater reward. In this case, “it is only fair that inventors and creators of original works should receive proper compensation for their creative efforts.” The moral rights of a man perspective (philosophy of Kant) is on “a belief that there are certain basic human rights that need to be respected at all costs”. Thus, protecting intellectual property would be a right for a designer. It analyzes different types of counterfeiting within the fashion industry and the ethical issues involved. Ethical relativism “rejects the notion of the universal laws and bases decisions on what others are doing under similar circumstances.” This would mean that intellectual property rights should be based on what was done in the past in such cases.

UNICEF reveals the illegal, black market crimes such as sweatshops that are associated with counterfeiting

There are also four different types of counterfeit products: vanity fakes, overruns, condoned copies, and self-made copies. Vanity counterfeits of low perceived quality are products that are obviously not real, thus are not big problems. In many third-world countries, some may state that it is a basic human right to make a living in any way to survive. Designers could argue that “counterfeiting deprives them of their legitimate economic rights to benefit from their work and will harm society in the long term” where as counterfeiters are simply serving a market of consumers that cannot afford to purchase the real items. If a buyer knows that the product is fake, no real harm is done. The only person being deceived is the person who assumes that a fake buyer’s bag is the real thing.

Fashion accounts for only 20% of counterfeit business

Overruns are the least offensive counterfeits with high quality and same details of an original product. These goods are very easily sold in local markets because of their realistic appearance. Many out-workers of developing countries see making profit through overruns as a right especially because of exploitation of local resources. Several sweatshops are still in existence in the clothing industry and the workers barely earn enough to survive. The comparison of the massive profits made by retailers and fashion houses versus the low wages of clothing workers gives favor to those who make small profits off of left over material. Condoned copies are copies that are approved by designers because of the benefits from publicity as well as the fact that their designs are ones that are “desirable and worth copying.” Self copies are when fashion houses create copies themselves. Some designers even franchise their names to others. By selling “seconds” or “factory rejects” one gives “credence to poorer quality counterfeits as they proclaim to be legitimate factory rejects.” In conclusion, arguments could be made to defend rights of designers or to justify counterfeiting.

How can it be applied?
Fake Cloths Market in China for Branded Designer Labels
Today Show Avoiding Counterfeit Luxury Goods Online
Are You Buying High End Fashion or Knock Offs?
$1.3M In Counterfeit Items Confiscated
No, I don't sell knockoffs!
How to spot counterfeit Lacoste Polos from FakesRevealed
How To Spot A Fake Louis Vuitton Bag