Essay On Mass Fashion

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Mass fashion for young people: A critical examination of the high street

“The fat cats of the rag trade know where to go when they need to find a new idea or to discover the next big thing: they hit the tough urban streets” (Hastreiter 1993, p.34). This quote highlights the ways in which street style is appropriated via mass fashion, and how that reinforces consumer society. This essay will use these two key theories - street style and consumer society - to critically explore the appeal of mass (high street) fashion for young people. Specifically, it focuses on young people’s considerations of appearance, conformity and identity-seeking. This may be seen as of interest sociologically owing to the increasingly disposable nature of clothes and fashion that both reflects on and feeds notions of ‘the postmodern body’ (Wilson, 1992),
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As such, it has also been seen as a cornerstone of consumer society, as the cyclical nature of mass fashion has significantly helped to maintain this (Aspers and Godart, 2013), both by creating new styles people ‘have’ to have and also by playing on nostalgia and retro trends to inspire people to buy the same styles again (Belleau, 1987). Consumer society here refers to a society composed of individuals and groups whose interests and ‘work rewards’ are centred on acts of consumption, usually of material goods (Goodwin et al.2008, p.6). The sustainability of this model is partly driven by consumers’ need to conform to certain socially acceptable images of the self. As Veblen wrote in 1957, “it is especially the rule of the conspicuous waste of goods that finds expression in dress…probably at no other point is the sense of shabbiness so keenly felt as it is if we fall short of the standard set by social usage in this matter of dress”
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