Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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

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