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?


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