What to Wear Today?
Teenagers, especially during the years of economic prosperity, consistently cast their consumer vote at various clothing retail stores. Marketers respond by relentlessly attempting to woo this coveted demographic. Various stores, even ones owned by the same corporation, create varying images in order to create a perspective of “cool”. “Coolness,” they believe, will induce the most profit. In schools around the country teenagers define themselves by what they are wearing. Brand names are signifiers that display identity. An individual’s social position, even if it is fictive, can be discerned from their dress. During tough economic times, however, it is possible that brand names lose some of their mysticism and clout or “cool”. The article referenced here discusses why certain retail companies continue to flourish while others begin to fall by the wayside. In this moment of economic turmoil various retail companies are striving to maintain a balance between brand image strength and price elasticity. The perspective is that if price is cut the brand image will suffer. A multitude of sociological concepts are useful while discussing these pertinent topics of American consumer culture. Marx’s discussion of commodity fetishism, 150 years ago, elucidates the mysticism inherent in consumer products. Bourdieu’s Distinction, guided in part by symbolic violence, is a heuristic tool in understanding the symbolic boundaries and lines teenagers draw between themselves. Finally, a cultural sociology perspective can illuminate the meaning structures behind these consumer goods. By utilizing these perspectives consumers can more easily discern how marketers are attempting to balance economics and image to increase their products’ consumption. Thus, the consumer vote can be more informed and based on a veracity of knowledge as opposed to voracity toward commodities.
Terry Newholm and Deirdre Shaw on Ethical Consumption
Simmel makes some interesting comments about fashion and following, noting that the most fashionable are actually the least innovative. Interesting post!