Fashion is more than simply keeping up with the newest trends; it is a cultural statement with societal implications. Fashion is a multifaceted corporation encompassing various disciplines and fields, including design, production, advertising, marketing, and distribution. Its significance in modern American society extends far beyond the realm of fashion. The way we express ourselves through fashion is essential to who we are as individuals. It allows us to express our thoughts about the situation of the world and our respective subjects of study. Clothing has always been used to express politics and culture. Fashion’s capacity to communicate political sentiments through clothing lends it great importance. Fashion resistance involves challenging dominant cultural norms and ideologies through fashion. Ethical fashion consumption concentrates on generating, dispensing, and consuming fashion environmentally and socially responsibly. Fashion can promote social justice by advocating for diversity and inclusion. It has the potential to recognise diversity by including fashions of different sizes, races, and gender identities in fashion shows and commercials. It can also promote cultural diversity by incorporating traditional clothing styles from different cultures into mainstream fashion. Cultural appropriation in fashion perpetuates stereotypes and minimises minorities’ contributions to mainstream culture. Many academics have studied fashion resistance in various contexts. This paper will look at the function of fashion in society, the resistance movements it has generated, the social justice it has promoted, and the disruption to the status quo it has produced.
Part 1: Key Concepts
People who use clothing and accessories to make a political statement are engaging in fashion resistance. Subcultures, countercultures, and fashion activism are all examples of resistance. Subcultures and countercultures form, each with its own particular identity and style in resistance to mainstream cultural standards. Fashion activism is using fashion to promote social and environmental causes. For instance, the ethical fashion movement aims to promote sustainability and ethical labour practices within the fashion enterprise (Black, 2012, p.36). Fashion resistance can challenge cultural imperialism by promoting diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry. Fashion resistance can challenge cultural appropriation by fostering cultural understanding and respect in the fashion industry. While fashion can potentially sell creativity, self-expression, and individuality, it can also encourage negative stereotypes and social inequalities. There has been a developing fashion of fashion resistance movements that undertake the status quo and promote social justice in modern-day years. These movements challenge the dominant narratives of beauty, body image, and identity the fashion industry perpetuates.
Fashion plays an essential role in constructing and communicating one’s identity. Fashion is a communication type used to express personal and collective identity. Dressing and presenting ourselves through fashion reflects our social, cultural, and personal identity. Fashion is not just a way of self-expression; it can also deliver social and cultural values and exert influence. “Fashion is not merely a form of dressing; it is a language we wear, a visual expression that communicates our personal and collective identities to the world” (Lascity, 2021, p.). Fashion plays an extensive function in positive businesses’ social and financial features, and it can be used to boost or challenge dominant cultural ideologies (Lascity, 2021, p.87). People can display their social popularity, cultural affiliations, and political opinions using fashion. Fashion is a resource-extensive industry that has a tremendous effect on the environment. The idea of sustainability in fashion includes considering the environmental, social, and financial influences of fashion production and intake. Ethical fashion consumption entails making informed selections about what we buy, how we use and dispose of it, and how we will reduce our alternatives’ environmental impact. Fletcher and Maki argue that sustainable fashion seeks to reduce the harmful environmental and social impacts of fashion while keeping the aesthetic and functional qualities of dressing. “Sustainable fashion endeavors to mitigate the detrimental environmental and social consequences of the fashion industry, all while upholding the intrinsic beauty and practicality of clothing” (Fletcher and Maki, 2022, p.515). Fashion resistance involves challenging dominant cultural norms and ideologies through fashion.
Subversive fashion can be visible as social and political activism aiming to challenge the status quo. Subversive fashion is a way of resistance and a tool for social and cultural exchange. Subversive fashion serves as both a powerful means of resistance and a catalyst for profound social and cultural dialogue. Subversive fashion can take many forms, from wearing unconventional clothing to creating designs that challenge gender roles or cultural stereotypes. However, designers should integrate multisystem approach when pursuing a certain social change. Holroyd (2017) reveals that, “a broad scope is inevitable when pursuing social change: “[designers] must contend with questions of system level change, even if working on smaller and more manageable manifestations of the wider scale phenomenon” (p.21). Cultural appropriation in fashion has been much debated in recent years. Cultural appropriation is taking elements of one culture and using them for one’s purposes without regard for the cultural context. Cultural appropriation by buyers or designers has a long history in fashion. Cultural appropriation in fashion perpetuates stereotypes and minimises minorities contributions to mainstream culture. Cultural appropriation in fashion involves power, representation, and exploitation. Bennett states, “Culture and forms of social power are intimately bound up with each other” (Bennett, 2005. P.10). Recognising the cultural significance of fashion elements and respecting their origin and context is essential.
Part 2: Examples
Fashion resistance can also challenge cultural imperialism, which refers to the imposition of one culture’s values and beliefs on another culture. Cultural imperialism is often linked to Eurocentrism, which privileges European culture over other cultures. Fashion resistance can challenge cultural imperialism by promoting diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry (Holroyd, 2017, p.20). For example, the decolonial fashion discourse aims to challenge Eurocentric beauty standards and promote diversity in fashion.
Fashion resistance can also challenge cultural appropriation, which refers to using elements of one culture by members of another without permission or understanding (Jacobs, 2022). Cultural appropriation in the fashion industry has been criticised for perpetuating stereotypes and erasing the cultural significance of fashion (Moscaliuc, 2019). Fashion resistance can challenge cultural appropriation by promoting cultural understanding and respect in the fashion industry (Jansen, 2020, p.820). One example of a fashion resistance movement is ethical fashion consumption. Ethical fashion consumption concentrates on generating, dispensing, and consuming fashion environmentally and socially responsibly. It targets to advocate for sustainability and fair labour practices and reduce the fashion enterprise’s terrible effect on the environment. This movement encourages clients to be more mindful of their purchasing conduct and consider their garments’ social and environmental impact. Ethical fashion consumption entails making informed selections about what we buy, how we use and dispose of it, and how we will reduce our alternatives’ environmental impact (Wilson, 2010, p.530). This movement also seeks to promote fair labour practices and support small-scale, sustainable fashion manufacturing.
Ethical fashion consumption is not just about buying clothes made from eco-friendly materials or fair-trade brands but also involves extending the lifespan of clothing through repairing, upcycling, and recycling. Fletcher and Maki (2022, p.517) state that the most sustainable garment is already in our wardrobe. By adopting a more conscious approach to fashion consumption, consumers can reduce their contribution to the fashion industry’s negative impact on the environment and society. Ethical fashion consumption is not just a personal choice but a collective responsibility to address the harmful effect of the fashion industry. Ditty (2018) states that ethical fashion is a movement that is not about individual choices but about collective responsibility, about considering the entire system that enables us to dress (Ditty, 2018). Therefore, ethical fashion consumption has the potential to bring about systemic change in the fashion industry towards a more sustainable and socially responsible future.
Another example of a fashion resistance movement is the body positivity movement. As the movement gained traction, individuals turned to social media platforms such as Instagram to share their body-positive messages and stories. As a result of this transition, people are rejecting the fashion industry’s unattainable beauty standards in favour of promoting their originality (Maynard, 2004, p.76). They have also begun to speak out against corporations and the media that promote an unhealthy preoccupation with thinness. The purpose of the movement is to create acceptance within the fashion industry, which has prompted designers to present models with various body forms on the runway.
Another kind of fashion resistance is wearing culturally meaningful apparel to reclaim and emphasise one’s cultural identity. Traditional attire has been suppressed or openly prohibited in many regions of the globe due to colonial powers or dominant cultures. Traditional attire, on the other hand, has been employed to prevent cultural extinction and preserve ethnic identities (Kratz and Reimer, 1998, p.197). Fashion is essential as a means of expressing oneself. People’s clothing reflects their personalities, attitudes, and worldviews. Dressing one’s finest is a kind of self-expression (Church-Gibson, 2006, p.25). It has far-reaching implications for our society, economy, and culture. Our clothing represents our culture’s common beliefs and ideals (Appleford, 2013, p.21). It is a way of communication, expression, and engagement. The clothing we wear represents our cultural values and ideas. It is a method of vocally expressing oneself and coming up with fresh ideas. When exposed to works of fashion art, people are typically motivated to reflect on their cultural background, personal history, and social environment (Enwistle, 2000). It also performs a crucial position within the financial gadget, providing jobs and contributing to the GDP of many nations internationally. Fashion is a multifaceted corporation encompassing various disciplines and fields, which include design, production, advertising and advertising and marketing, and distribution (Kawamura, 2014).
A style is an artwork form that reflects societal, cultural, monetary, and social tendencies. The clothes we wear, the accessories we select, and the styles we adopt are all influenced by broader cultural trends and societal values (Holroyd, 2017, p.13). Fashion boosts the global economy. Millions work in fashion design, manufacturing, retail, and distribution. Despite this, the fashion business struggles with sustainability, employment practises, and environmental effects (Fletcher and Maki, 2022, p.513). Fashion can promote social justice by challenging dominant narratives and promoting diversity and inclusion. However, it could additionally perpetuate poor stereotypes and social inequalities. Fashion can promote social justice by advocating for diversity and inclusion. It has the potential to recognise diversity by including fashions of different sizes, races, and gender identities in fashion shows and commercials. It can also promote cultural diversity by incorporating traditional clothing styles from different cultures into mainstream fashion. The potential of fashion to promote social justice is evident in the rise of the sustainable fashion movement. Sustainable fashion focuses on environmentally responsible practices and emphasises social responsibility and ethical labour practices (Baker, 2012). By prioritising fair wages and working conditions for garment workers, sustainable fashion helps to challenge the exploitative practices that have long been prevalent in the fashion industry.
Sustainable fashion supports local artisans and manufacturers, thereby contributing to the economic development of communities. On the other hand, fashion can perpetuate social inequalities and negative stereotypes by excluding certain groups from its story. The fashion enterprise has long been criticised for missing variety, mainly concerning race and size. The fashion industry reinforces negative stereotypes and promotes social inequality because of failing to include models of different races, sizes, and gender identities in fashion shows and advertisements (Rocamora and Smelik, 2015, p.23). However, with the growing call for diversity and inclusivity, the fashion enterprise has gradually shifted toward more various and inclusive representation.
Fashion can perpetuate negative stereotypes and social inequalities. For example, cultural appropriation in fashion can perpetuate negative stereotypes and cultural imperialism. Cultural appropriation is taking elements of one culture and using them for one’s purposes without regard for the cultural context. It is a form of exploitation that can harm marginalised communities. Cultural appropriation in fashion has been much debated in recent years. While some argue that it can be a form of appreciation and celebration of other cultures, others contend that it perpetuates negative stereotypes and cultural imperialism (Appleford, 2013, p.73). For instance, the appropriation of Indigenous designs and patterns in mainstream fashion has been criticised for reducing the culture to a mere fashion trend and stripping it of its cultural significance. These harms marginalised groups and encourage harmful stereotypes, resulting lack of understanding and recognition of different cultures. It is crucial for fashion brands and designers to understand cultural appropriation and to achieve cultural respect and appreciation in their designs.
In conclusion, the capacity to freely express oneself while simultaneously transmitting central cultural and societal themes makes the fashion business so essential. Fashion resistance is crucial because it promotes societal change by questioning long-held social and cultural norms. Resistance in the fashion industry can effectively combat cultural imperialism and appropriation and advance diversity and inclusion. By rejecting cultural imperialism and appropriation, fashion resistance fosters diversity and inclusivity within the industry, paving the way for a more equitable and representative fashion landscape. Ethical, sustainable, and inclusive fashion practices are essential to harness this potential fully. Promoting ethical, ecological, and inclusive fashion might be a potent weapon for social change. It has the potential to promote diversity and inclusion while simultaneously challenging dominant narratives, making it a powerful instrument in the struggle for social justice. Clothing trends, on the other hand, contribute to perpetuating negative preconceptions and deepening inequities. Recognising the influence of fashion and the push for ethical and socially responsible fashion practices is thus critical. Collaboration between various stakeholders is essential in pursuing a more equitable and socially conscious fashion world. Consumers, designers, fashion brands, activists, and policymakers must work synergistically to promote ethical and socially responsible fashion practices. By recognising the potential of fashion to bring about positive transformation, we can transform the sector and establish a more equitable, comprehensive, and socially conscious community.
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