Monday, 10 December 2007

The Styletribe

Sometimes I find myself considering subjects through the glasses of my university education (as I told you, I’ve a social ciences graduation), therefore I’m going to share some thoughts about Fashion in a social approach.
Anthropologists have long understood that goods are always culturally coded for communication, yet their capacity to carry subtle metaphoric inflections makes them difficult to decode. Ironically, they are at once transparent and opaque. Anthropologists have employed material goods to excavate a society's practices; culturally contextualising goods gives some assurance of their meaning. Thus, following anthropology, analyses of modernity have frequently examined material goods and the physical appearances of individuals as illuminating encodings of the culture.
Many goods can be used for impression management, as the sociologist calls it, but clothes, being so close to the individual all the time, are the most obvious and important ones. Coming in boundless variations, as boundless as the variations of character and lifestyle, they are the most feasible goods for the expression of identity.
Fashion is an underestimated social force. It functions effectively not only as an economic colossus but also to engineer social practices. For centuries, fashion has always been a way of non-verbally communicating ideas or beliefs about an individual. “It is a language of signs, symbols and iconography that communicate meanings” (Thomas 2004). In situations where one is not familiar with the customs, misunderstandings will definitely arise. Since cultural attitudes vary from region to region, we must understand that the way we see the world is not necessarily the way others might see it, in spite of the globalization tendency.
Fashion is an inherent feature of human sociality; it is a mean of securing a social identity: the tribal imperative is and always will be a fundamental part of human nature. Like our most distant ancestors we feel alienated and purposeless when we don’t experience this sense of belonging and comradeship. It is no coincidence that the decline of traditional social groupings, which has intensified so markedly since the Second World War precisely parallels the rise of a new type of social group, the styletribe.

1 comment:

  1. Nadine @ December 2007 at 22:31

    Thanks for the thoughtful essay. Not enough people think carefully enough about the way they dress. It's the ultimate social grace.


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