Shop-Window Dummies? Fashion, the Body, and Emergent Socialites

“The body in fashion is simply a mannequin or shop window dummy – it is the clothing, rather than the wearing of it, that is regarded as significant.”

She’s only wearing what she was told was going to be the next “it” thing. Doesn’t everyone with money wear head to toe Louis Vuitton? The book states that fashion is regarded as a modern phenomenon that acts to express or maintain distinctions between different social groups and that fashion is understood as a mark of distinction, or signifier of class. I feel that this is both true and false. On one hand there’s always going to be people that wear head to toe Vuitton and on the other hand there’s a growing populace of people wearing a mixture of new and vintage/head to toe vintage. According to the book, this is because of a declining influence of haute couture, and the ensuing rise of ‘street-style’.

Now you can be punk for 29.80!

But this kind of mixing isn’t just happening with new and old, it’s also happening with mixing mainstream fashion with counterculture fashions. “contemporary fashion has become increasingly eclectic and fragmented, we are witnessing a blurring between mainstream and countercultural fashions. All fashion has become stagey, self-conscious about its own status as discourse.” For example, it is true that we now see punk rock elements of fashion everywhere, including Forever 21. Even though this is happening, I have to say that it isn’t blurring lines so much that you can’t tell the difference between someone who frequents Forever21 and someone who frequents $5 shows inside abandoned/foreclosed houses. A person within the punk subculture would be able to easily identify someone borrowing fashion elements, but I wonder if it would be as easy for people without any knowledge of the subculture to identify those people.

Continuing with the idea of countercultures mixing and being available in stores, the text states that “Neo-tribalism can ultimately be seen as an aesthetic form of sociality, which favours ‘appearance and form’ as an expression of shared feelings and experiences” “‘neo-tribal masks’ are as easily adopted and discarded as the tribal affiliations they symbolize…identities are available ready-to-wear in what others dubbed the ‘supermarket of style’.” Although there are multiple identities available for purchase, whether it be hippie, goth, punk, raver, lolita (highschool much?); besides annoying people, I don’t see this affecting the subculture scene of those identities. Each of these subcultures aren’t just about what you put on your body (even though that is an important factor), it’s about living that lifestyle with people who share your interests, political views, musical taste, and so much more. At the end of the day you can wear whatever you want. You just have to realize how silly you look to a person who is actually apart of the subculture you’re trying to emulate.


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