Diversity Paradox of Fashion Industry
The fashion industry is a giant conglomerate that has impacted global consumerism with its international cultural manifestation throughout the ages. Fashion comprises of a timeless cult – it is a creative battlefield that is impacted by the influence of politics, traditions, ethnicity, art and diversity. Today, fashion is a philosophy which requires the comprehension and simultaneous demonstration of politically diverse labels and statements.
The fashion industry has taken the necessity of ‘clothing up’ by the reins, and addressed it with the qualms of political awareness, complexity and vivid diverse notions. Your attire not only allows you to prove your status quo within and before a huge context, but also helps you to make a statement that might be politically correct or tilted towards the extreme right.
Culture and fashion go hand in hand and impact each other through a counterintuitive cycle. Conforming to a politically correct cult allows you to express your social activism and the need of a potential rebellion within your classes and discourses.
Similarly, fashion designers might be labeled politically incorrect if their pieces fail to shed light on humanly pursuits of diversity and nature. Fashion is more than a terminology nowadays – it is an expression and a vivid demonstration of ideas and personality.
Culture and Consumerism
The fashion industry has surpassed the $1.3 trillion trade, which as compared to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, accounts for approximately 2% of the world’s economy. The global fashion industry might be a bust at times, especially when societal impact leads to forced slavery and criminality coupled with ambition and desire for trade.
According to Kurt W. Back in his book on Modernism and Fashion, the latter is a trend that is direly affected by consumers’ timeless obsession with culture and traditions. This can however, lead to cultural misrepresentation and appropriation as well, the context of which can be exploitative and offensive. Cultural representation through fashion is important for inducing diversity in a civilization that is budding with the impact of western ideas that aren’t politically correct.
Consumerism hit the Middle East quite strongly in 2010 – the UAE built a huge textile industry that was not only influenced by day-to-day art and music, but also by vivid cultural changes and fashion dichotomy. Ever since then, the Middle East has expanded exponentially, and can now be compared with its Parisian and Western conglomerates in the fashion industry.
Similarly, consumer lifestyle and different locations also play a major role in influencing fashion diversity. They lead to enhancing an area’s cultural impact on fashion, which can in turn influence innovation in technology and the expansion of society.
In order to explain the influence of multicultural phenomena on the cult of fashion, we have discussed a few sources that are important for enhancing diversity within the masses.
1) High Culture
High culture comprises of the visual arts such as performance and contemporary art, photography, literature and music. These aspects have helped to inspire fashion designers throughout the decades. Fashion designers such as Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent have crafted and created pieces after being inspired from art that has been avidly displayed all around the world.
For instance, Yves Saint Laurent had taken inspiration from Mondrian and ballet to create pieces reminiscent of such timeless art. In addition, most museums and places evident of staunch cultural preservations hold exhibitions that are either influenced by their displays or help to create awareness regarding socially correct issues.
Fashion is mostly a thorough story-telling experience – at one time, it is helping you to combat your comfort zone and at the other time, it is allowing you to rebel against the society’s social norms and culture.
A few other glimpses of high culture can be seen in the works of Parisian brands such as Givenchy, and other influenced designers such as Alexander McQueen. Another aspect of high culture also deals with the influences of heritage and aristocracy. For instance, the Indian subcontinent saw the introduction of saris in the commonplace market after the British Empire failed to accept the attire due to their preference for far more superior Victorian ensembles. Today, saris have become internalized within the Indian culture.
2) Pop Culture
Popular culture is practically the rage and the ultimate source for fuelling a politically correct yet multicultural, diverse fashion extravaganza. While pop culture is largely influenced by entertainment and technology, a larger part of it is also impacted by news, politics, sociology, slang use, and postmodernism.
In some cases, pop culture has been watered down so that the rich can fool the consumers with their trade-offs. On the other hand, pop culture today, has been largely impacted by social values that are dominant and cueing in on the space reined by high, low and folklore culture. These social values can be in the form of rebellions and various slogans to battle propaganda through consumerism and fashion.
Most designers have taken inspiration from various pop culture references to establish a culture that is not only politically correct but diverse as well. For instance, pop culture has given trans-activists and the LGBTQ community a voice through diverse fashion and practices. In the 2016 documentary, Suited, trans-designer Tutera used his skills and voice to design suits for his fellow trans-men so that they’d not only feel accepted but also confident in their circles.
Pop culture is a form of self-expression that can be demonstrated vividly in the American society through contemporary silhouettes and cultural-influenced namesakes. If there is something that is highly popular within the masses or the industry, pop culture will find a way to mask it through fashion so that your expression remains timeless, bold and self-explanatory.
3) Low Culture
Low culture is a wee bit hard to distinguish from popular culture, but you’ll know when you see it. Inspired by the skateboarding, tailored crew from the 70s, low culture tends to inspire designers with art right from the streets. From hip-hop to rap music and various other local street activities comprising of graffiti and mural art, low culture tends to encompass fashion inspiration from music and art that can be found notably on the streets.
Cultural Appropriation in Fashion
Cultural appropriation occurs when designers link a respective tribe’s culture or a specific race’s tradition to earn profit through global consumerism in the name of art and fashion. Cultural appropriation occurs when you plainly steal someone’s heritage for your personal benefits leading to misrepresentation and hurtful sentiments.
For instance, prior to Thanksgiving, a lot of designers aim to sell their customary Native American headdresses in order to attract customers. This has been reported countless times through petitions. Natives therefore, have continued to protest against prejudicial Non-Natives for the usage of their attire as mere costumes for personal preferences and gains.
Apart from the different types of cultural phenomena, there are several micro and macro trends that influence fashion for a given set of years. For instance, micro trends influence the prominence of a certain type of fashion trend for a set of 1 – 3 years, while macro trends cause a much larger impact that can allow the respective type of fashion to last for around 5 – 10 years.
On the other hand, to make fashion more diverse and inclusive, catwalks and designers have to incorporate models from various ethnic backgrounds and cultural practices. However, the white fashion parade still remains inclusive in a majority of places, but cultural practices aim to get rid of gender roles and colorism with powerful androgyny, gender non-conforming attributes and diverse glimpses.