Whenever you enter the mall looking for your next pair of shoes or when you go to your favorite website to do some online shopping, you become a consumer just like everyone else. All of us are consumers of the Fashion Industry, and by effect, all of us are influenced by the industry itself.
In any consumer based industry, big companies have to analyze the psyche of their ideal consumer. Most fashion brands build their own image through implementing themes and creating a staple consumer. Obviously, as consumers in this market, we all associate certain words and ideas with brands. When we think Gucci we think bright, eccentric, eclectic whereas when we speak of Chanel we hear classic, everlasting, chic. These underlying descriptors are the brand’s image.
But doesn’t a brand’s image influence how fashion alters our identity? The clothes we wear, the brands we gravitate towards, our own personal sense of style, all define a portion of our identity. The way we see ourselves is often guided by material items of clothing. Materialism promotes the fashion industry by slowing higher-end brands to hold themselves in high-esteem. I know that I have saved up day by day to go buy a “designer” item simply to associate with a certain social class of people. A simple designer item correlates to higher social class or even an elevated sense of style. The feelings that these fashion brands engender can hurt the way we see ourselves.
The fashion industry tends to promote a certain body type and skin color. By idealizing fair skin and skinny “hour glass” frames, the fashion industry creates body dysmorphia in many of its consumers. The industry brainwashes us to think that this unrealistic body type is ideal, to think that wearing certain brands makes us “elite”.
The reality is that this game of perception promotes other issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. However, finding the balance of perception and positive consumer interaction is the only way to keep fashion healthy. Is this balance even attainable?