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.

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