Fashion and sociology

A sociological point of view – Jullien Pacioni

From a sociological point of view, fashion has often been a way for the upper classes to stand out. Indeed, from a historical point of view, fashion was before created at the royal court. Subsequently, the royalties having often lost power for the benefit of the bourgeoisie, it is she who took charge of the creation of fashion. From that moment, two aspects of fashion distinguished themselves, in correlation with the industrialization of our modern societies and the capitalist and liberal logic.

On the one hand, fashion has become an industry and has had to evolve very quickly, at each « season », in order to sell more and push for consumption. For these reasons, industrial fashion is often cheap and is aimed at a wide audience. Brands, which often dictate this fashion, gradually create a uniform garment.

On the other hand, the bourgeoisie and the ruling classes had to find a way to stand out. For this, they began to consume more expensive products, and therefore inaccessible to the lower classes. The American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen has thus highlighted an effect that now bears his name: when the price of a product increases considerably and the product becomes a luxury product, as is the case for many fashion objects – clothing, watches, jewelry, handbags, etc. – the demand for this object increases (whereas economic theories showed until then that the more expensive a product, the less it was asked). Thus, brands have specialized in this area and have given birth to luxury fashion, which in turn inspired industrial fashion.

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