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Fashionology: The Sociology of Fashion

In the excerpt, Sociology of Fashion: Order and Change by P. Asper touched on three important aspects of today’s fashion industry: How fashion is its own study, Sociology theories used to understand fashion and How fashion has been fostered in global economies.

 Aspers defines fashion as a completely separate concept from “fad, innovation, style and trend.”

1.That fashion differs from fads because fads appear to be random and impossible to predict, whereas fashion is related to previous fashions.
2. Fashion is limited in their diffusion because they are driven by distinction, fads are not restricted by the number of people following because individuals are not distinguishing themselves.
3. Innovation is different as it alters social practices in a deeper way and has longer-lasting effects, while fashion does not imply improvement.
4. Fashion differs in style, “as style can constitute a lasting cultural reference that can be subjected to fashions but is not fashion in itself.”
5. A trend is a direction in which fashion may be headed, however, the key difference is the degree of generality: "Fashions are less general than trends.” 

This newly defined definition of fashion is important to understand as it defines fashion as neither affected or deterred by these other factors. He states that fashion in itself is separate concept and must be looked at from a sociological perspective and less on the dress and clothing aspects of the field. 

The first sociology theory of fashion is the “trickle-down theory” by theories Mandeville, who held a positive view of fashion and luxury in which he saw key drivers of prosperity. The trickle-down theory, was called by Blumer, who developed his own collective selection theory in which the movement of fashion came first, followed by distinction and imitation fashion of social classes. Although the focus of fashion has historically been on clothing and dress as a valuable setting in which to see fashions change.

Many new emerging fashion studies, also known as fashionology that focus on interdisciplinary angles. The editor of Organization Studies, wrote that “fashion may be the key to comprehending many puzzling developments in and among organizations." Asper argues, “the evolution of fashion research towards interdisciplinary, which seems to be major trend, [shows] the role of sociology in this moving of alchemic context."

Arpers suggests that sociologists would gain from using more developed theories of fashion, in explaining many of the complex changes in the world. This is important because by understanding fashion from a sociological perspective, sociologists can better be understanding the fields in which fashion affects including: “painting, sculpture, music, drama, architecture, dancing, and household decoration." The sociological elements Aspers touched on included the concept of imitating others.

According to theorist Simmel, we decrease our own psychological tensions because we can thereby belong to a group. He argued that gender identification is at least partially made through fashion and defined important conditions needed for fashion to exist. These included: people must have chance to make choices, relatively unfettered from laws; and they must be economically capable to act. Exploring the notion that fashion is an essentially urban phenomenon, scholars have looked at how cities are shaped by fashion and examination of emerging urban centres beyond the traditional “big four” of Paris, New York, Milan, and London.

Another context of globalization is whether it leads to homogenization of dress around the world and how “national fabrics” fare in this environment. The increased importance of consumption in many Western economies, however we can see an increasing trend in large emerging economies such as India, Brazil, Turkey, or China. Fashion therefore, increased with the modernization process of the West. With the growth of prosperity and the increase importance of consumption and some social mobility, the role of fashion grew even further.

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