Fashion and the public consumer
Fashion has pitched itself as an ‘art,’ as a reflection of society and current issues (see article below). But fashion, like other centers of commerce, is planned in advance for the purpose of profit. This spring’s fashion collections do not, or rather, could not be symbolic of the current financial crisis simply because they were envisioned months if not years ago. Habermas illustrates the ways in which this use of fashion is problematic. First, conceived of as an expression of public and political issues, fashion reifies the “false consciousness” of a critically engaged public sphere made up of private people. Secondly, in this sense, fashion and its consumption is seen as a path towards self-expression. In this culture of consumption, society substitutes purchasing power for critical reflection. Why come together as an engaged public in order to seriously discuss the financial crisis when we can buy clothing that is advertised as reflecting those opinions? If fashion is representative of the new public sphere, then we have become consumers of false consciousness.