Fashion & Flexibility | Art vs. Industry

In the current post, my group member really brings forth the ‘fad’ of the fashion quiz. Intertwining her thoughts and those that were talked about during the presentation really bring light to an interesting side of fashion….the side where industry and art meet.

“People express their individuality through fashion yet are also slaves to it”

Fashion proves to be symbolic of freedom in people’s lives all the while contradicting their dependence on it. With this back and forth approach, tensions are created in mass production.It’s pretty insane that individualism is marketed to the masses – it is not a concept spoken and directed to one person at a time with a different product each time. It’s not in the benefit of the industry to take this approach but rather to try to make people feel that they are different from one another by selling their stories. Manufacturers have the hard task of finding an equilibrium between mass. Consumers are essentially blinded by such tactics because we like to feel special and not blend in but stand out…for the most part.

On the Urban Outfitters website they say…“Our goal is to help our customer express their individuality and connect with their interests, needs, passions and each other. We embrace music, fashion, art, architecture, design and technology as integral to our business and infuse each with our individualistic, nonconformist approach to life.” This alone shows that they are selling you a story of individualism that you are unique, that there’s only one of you and they can cater to your needs. However, Urban Outfitters has created a “counter-culture” gone mainstream. You cannot go into their store and expect to find one design on one shirt or pair of pants or shoes. Catering to the masses is their goal, selling their story to you is their forte and everyone loves a story that makes them the lead character.

Moving forward with a little bit of background info: clothing as a status differentiator. There were 19th century notions of consumption and class. THEN: Secondhand clothing from the rich to the poor. NOW: ‘Thrifting’ is now popularized in today’s date. Constant evolution of clothing starts to put pressure on what symbolizes difference in lifestyle. Of course, back in the day clothing was tailored and made for the rich because the machinery was not up to par to make 50 of the same dresses or suits. If you did have on a one-of-a-kind outfit it showed people that you had money and if you had money you were higher up in the class list. Because of this, the poor got their clothing from the rich, which is termed today as “out of season” or “out of style”. Now, the notion of thrifting is exciting to find unique pieces that no one around you may have, but vintage has been glamorized in cause creating a cycle of re-introducing old style that merges ‘rich’ and ‘poor’.

Here’s the clip I promised to put up that shows 100 Years of Style (from London – however, easily corresponds to various parts of the world). The change of fashion and style does also depend on the shift of improvements within the industry in terms of machinery and skill.

Ready-made revolution: Technological advancements in the clothing industry allowed mass amounts of garments to be produced and sold to the people in different colors, patterns, shapes, etc. The ready-made clothing advancement was in help by Singer sewing machines and the concept of creating workshops to do the most amount of work possible in the short amount of time possible. Clothing made for ‘somebody’ to clothing made for ‘everybody’. Can even be seen with haute couture labels, ex. Alexander McQueen massed produced classic chiffon skull scarves.

With the ready-made revolution, distinctions became erased. Production process merges all classes. The first major spread of ready-made goods to middle-and lower-class women was groundbreaking. You don’t have to be rich to look rich…whatever you choose to define rich as; style is no longer glorified to the ‘rich’. There is the developing deletion of distinction reinforces the idea that people will be grouped together regardless of individual desires. Deception? Lies? Genius?

With that, I leave you all with the following question:

Do you think that the mass production of clothing offers more pros than cons, or vice versa?


8 thoughts on “Fashion & Flexibility | Art vs. Industry

  1. First of all. I loved, loved, LOVED that clip. I loved how it compasses the history of fashion and dance up until present day! I think another reason I may have loved the clip is because I believe my fashion is pre-70’s. I love the fashion of the 20th century up until the mid 60’s. I guess I should have said that I am IN LOVE with that fashion! I like the fashion of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and New Millennium but nothing touches the 1900’s-1960’s for me. Nevertheless, I believe that the mass production of clothing has a balanced amount of pros and cons. Some of the pros is that it lowers the cost of clothing. If people were still having every outfit tailored made for them, it would be very expensive. I think a common con takes place right here on this campus. I can think of countless times that I have been in a party and have seen numerous girls with the same outfit on. Regrettably, I have been that girl before. That is the major con of mass production, no matter how much the industry and companies sell you a story of individualism, the story is a fairy tail in today’s market.

  2. Thanks for the post!
    As we discussed in the class, I think mass production did a lot of great things in terms of “democratizing” fashion in a certain sense. Fashion can be criticized for a lot of things (conformity, frivolous, objectifying women) but, like mentioned in our readings, it’s a way for people to claim dignity. I think you guys bring up a great point that you don’t have to “look rich” to be rich. Case in point – you can buy a 20 dollar H&M polo and a 10 dollar khaki shorts instead of going to Lacoste/Ralph Lauren and paying five times as much.
    I think “haute” labels somewhat feel threatened with the idea of mass production. Why pay for a 100 dollar v-neck at Alexander Wang when you could get it for a tenth of a price at the fast fashion outlets? But, as we discussed in class, labels like Chanel and Dior have been spreading their labels to perfume in order make their brand name available to the masses and make a profit out of it. And we also discussed how more expensive brands aren’t targeting that “fast-fashion” market – if a person wants to buy a $1000 dollar trench coat, they’ll probably go to Burberry anyways and not try to buy it for less at H&M. So in essence, mass production isn’t hurting high fashion.

  3. I don’t think mass production will hurt more expensive brands such as Burberry, Gucci or RL because of the simple fact that people who are obsessed with labels will still buy the labels. People who have the money and can afford to drop stacks on 2 things in one store will do it not just for the quality, but for the prestige that is associated with higher priced items.

    Mass production gives everyone (well, not everyone…but most people) the opportunity to obtain “fashion” at a lower cost. I for one can’t afford to spend ridiculous amounts of money for certain clothes. On the other hand, I also can’t afford to buy cheap items that fall apart after 1 wear. I like for my clothes to last, no matter how much they cost, because I spent my hard earned money on them. And, from experience, just because a certain item is more expensive and from a high end brand, it does not make it higher quality. I’ve bought expensive pieces that fell apart just as fast as clothes I bought from a more affordable store like H&M. In my honest opinion, with high end designers I feel like you’re just paying for the name/brand more so than quality. It’s no way you could convince me to believe that a

    $2500 shoe is better quality than a shoe thats around $100. No way.
    The only negative I see with mass production would be the lack of individuality that comes with wearing cheaper/mass produced items. But in a way, that could also be applied to high fashion because it’s all borrowed and recycled for the most part in my opinion. Also, I’m going to assume that 98% of fashion designers are influenced by things that are not directly related to high fashion. Like in that second to last photo for example, how many designers have you seen utilize the military inspired clothing in their collections? I’m pretty sure Balmain isn’t the only one.

  4. I think that because of mass production, there is no concrete answer to if mass producing clothing can be labeled as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing. As a college student, I cannot afford expensive designer labels or to have my clothes custom made. Thus, a trip to H&M is preferable, and I can still feel that I am picking out something original for myself to wear, when in reality I know that hundreds of other girls bought that same dress. However, no matter what we buy, it will always look different on each person because of body shape and personal style such as when we accessorize our outfits. This past weekend, my sister went to a Homecoming dance at her highschool. She was of course worried that since most of our town shops at the same mall, that some one else would have her exact dress, thus she didn’t go into Macy’s or other obvious dress stores to avoid this problem. She was so happy when she bought her dress from a smaller store, only to find out after that her bff’s sister had the same one. In a last minute attempt to stand out, she belted the dress and we picked out a pair of shoes to match her accessory. I think that most girls are in these situations when it comes to big school dances, but in reality, no one really can afford to get a custom made dress to wear once to such an occasion.

  5. I definitely think the mass production of clothing has more pros than cons. How can something that allows more people accessibility to clothing trends and options be a bad thing? While clothing corporations such as H&M and Forever 21 copy high fashion designs, I highly doubt they’re taking away any customers or prestige of these high fashion designers. The people that buy a pair of shoes from Forever 21 generally aren’t the same people that would buy a pair of Dolce & Gabanna shoes. Therefore, while I’ve seen both sides to the argument and hate that certain issues are going on, such as all of the waste that has been building since the rise of mass production, I appreciate that it give more people the accessibility to be fashionable and find trendy clothes that aren’t expensive.

  6. This may be one of my favorite posts all semester. I think the idea of ready mades as more pros and cons but for one reason only. Today in society it appears that distinction of class is extremely important however I believe by utilizing ready mades it allows for that class merge that was mentioned. I think that’s important as it seems like many strive very hard to be a part of a different class. By using ready mades we can all fit to where we want in society. It also allows for trends for the past to come back into style easier. The only sad part is that many items are not made as well and are easily recyclable rather than to be able to be kept for many years use. But then again that’s the beauty of thrifting. I enjoy finding high end labels while thrifting as sometimes I know for certain pieces that they will last a lifetime rather than just a few wears. I believe that these ready mades can create more individuality if not sold at a store like Urban Outfitters. People are consumed with individuality and some are with the class distinction. I think by thrifting and having ready mades it allows for either kind of person to style how they choose and express themselves.

  7. I personally believe that mass production of clothing has more pros than cons in our society today. I do understand how it could be seen as an issue if people are trying to create “individulalism” however I still believe that if two different people had on the same outfit it would not take away a person’s individuality. I think that it can depend on the way that a person takes a specific outfit and makes it into their own. Virtually we know that it is not possible for a company to be successful if they did not have a mass production of clothing to build the revenue as well as brand of their company. So therefore, the productions of these particular styles available in a store are geared to a certain style to many different people. If the same people are attracted to a clothign item, it does not mean that these people are no longer individuals, it just means that they have a similar style as well as liking the same clothing items. As far as no longer looking “rich” I completely agree with this statement. I think that it has always been easy for a perosn to assume the economic status of a person by the clothes that they wear but now in this society being trendy does not count much. I think this is beneficial for us a whole however I still feel that as many people in this society are wearing the trendy but cheap clothes, you will still find the people in the upper class wearing more expensive clothes. However, it does make it harder to sift through these people. In al, I think this psot brings up a lot of relevant topics that we discussed throughtout the course.

  8. Mass production has definitely more pros than cons. The idea of having clothing become more accessible at more affordable rates is a great thing. Stores like Forever 21, ASOS, and H& M are great examples. For instance, H&M collaboration with the fashion powerhouse Versace shows this birth of bridging high fashion and functionality to the consumer for an affordable price. As a college student, I view this as a blessing because I can’t afford dresses retailed at thousands of dollars. If I can get a similar look for less that’s a deal breaker. I think mass production allows for people of different socioeconomic classes to merge. It’s becoming difficult to decipher the rich from the poor, or the real from the fake. I find this to be very interesting, and I would like to see how mass production affects generations to come.

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