Depiction of Race and Racism, Term Paper Example
Words: 2750Term Paper
Fashion and the Issues of Racism Understanding How Racism is Depicted through Fashion
The value of how one looks like is a very important matter for people especially that it leaves a great image on their reputation as persons. This has been true ever since the beginning of time especially when it comes to defining the status of an individual in the society. Back in the years, ancient people used their clothing to define their reputation and their status through making more colorful patterns that redefined them apart from the regular members of the society. In consideration with the ancient Asian culture, it could be noted how tattoos were used as a specific part of clothing that sets apart the elite members of the society from that of the regular members and that of the slaves. IT served as a sense of trademark which makes a relative indication on who is higher than who when it comes to social recognition.
This specific fact imposes that outward appearances actually have great impact on how people recognizes a particular individual. Relatively, this is the same reason why the aspect of outer appearance directly impacts the modern society today. Considerably, the realization of such importance has specifically given birth towards the emergence of fashion as a relative industry that has grown from a simple course of selling clothes as a basic need for humans towards becoming a lucrative economic industry that employs 70% women models and 30% male models who come from different nations from all around the globe (Cumming, 2004, 56). Nevertheless, it could be realized that even though the industry already employs different individuals from different races, its integrity in keeping away the issue of discrimination from its midst remains specifically a bleak possibility up to these modern days of the industry’s operation.
In the discussion that follows, a definition on what bridges the fashion industry and discrimination together shall be given particular attention to. The different arguments shall be utilized to create a specific indication on how both race and fashion has become two elements that are relatively connected to each other and seemingly having a great sense of being used against each other even in the midst of operating within a global sense of fashion ethics at present.
Introducing the Fashion Industry
Fashion is basically defined along with the term “style” of clothing and appearance that is being suggested to be socially appreciable and acceptable. Most often than not, fashion considers a distinctive course by which clothing styles are refined to be able to make a depictive indication on what or who a person is. As of today, it could be realized that more than just appearance, fashion has also created a sense of status recognition among individuals who chose to be noted as part of a particular group of people who accepts a particular genre of fashion (Cumming, 2004, 57).
Aside from the idea of establishing personal reputation, fashion also depicts beauty and elegance. Back in the era of renaissance, the European fashion has emerged to be the most elegant and sophisticated form of fashion. The complexity of the design of the clothes specially made for women made it possible for such particular set of clothing to be recognized as highly acceptable especially for those who belong to the royalties or the elite members of the society. In contrast to this, Asian fashion during the said era involved lavish utilization of detailed designs within the finest forms of clothes made into status-defined clothing that are sure to set the wearer apart from the regular members of the community.
Relatively, different nations and races were noted for their own fashion sense. The uniqueness of such designs is most often than not relatively dependent on the cultural traditions of the nations from which such fashion statements come from. Through the years, each nation is noted for the defining fashion that its elitists wear. It set apart the national members of each country from each other and each nationality from the others around the globe. Specifically, the capacity of these fashion statements to set nations apart from each other provides a great impact on how countries and races are specifically differentiated from each other. At this point, it could be relatively indicated that fashion did state a sense of division among the members of the society during the ancient towards the developmental years of progress.
As of today, fashion has evolved from point of becoming a replicating element of division in the society to becoming a source of agreement that human individuals respond to at present. Notably, the fashion industry today follows the flow of globalization in making nations meet together in one common ground in the aim of specifying a course of progress that would identify them as one unit and not as nations separated by borders and difference of color. With the emergence of commerce and economics as the primary elements that control the fashion industry, the said source of clothing styles released throughout the world has become a source of commonality among nations.
Furthermore, the emergence of fashion companies such as GAP, GUESS, BENCH and others specifically created a sense of an umbrella of unity among people as they choose to buy what they desire to cloth themselves with. In addition to that, in place of social status, fashion now defines the individual in a sense that it represents the attitude of the person wearing a particular set of clothing. At this point, it could be agreed upon that fashion indeed embraces the course by which social influence is used to manifest control and manipulation on the part of the commercial powers that fuel the industry’s growth (Marlin). One of the said fuels is marketing.
In a way, marketing is the very fuel that makes the fashion industry become a big source of profit for most business owners in the world. This is the reason why out of the 115% of released exports from developed countries at present, at least 45% of such products are dedicated to the fashion industry’s distributive operations around the globe. Through the course of marketing’s developmental influence on the people, from being a mere basic need, clothing has become a desired property, a matter that changes according to the trend. What makes fashion marketing a lucrative industry is the fact that it sets trends faster than it does reproduce old sets of styles release for market consumption during a relatively small span of time. This way, people buy new sets of clothing and embrace new sense of style almost at every turn of two months at an average. How does marketing set the trend? The following sections shall elaborate more on this matter.
Fashion and Racism
As mentioned earlier, back when the realization of fashion sense and style’s important has been recognized in the human society, the depiction of racism within the midst of those who are involved in the aspect of embracing fashion’s impact on their lives have already been specifically evident. In the face of globalization where global brotherhood is being promoted, it is hoped and expected that somehow, such a situation could be better refined hence indicating a sense of control on how fashion redefines social connection between nations.
In setting up trends though, the fashion industry utilizes a particular mode that makes it easier for societies, communities and individuals to respond to the products they release for market consumption, the field of modeling. Given that pioneer nations who set up the fashion industry’s foundation came from the European and Western elitists, it is but normal that the first models who were used to market the new styles belong to the white race. The reason behind this, as defined by the fashion critics, is the fact that it is much easier to manipulate colors and styles on white models rather than on fair skinned or colored models. Likely, the white color of the skin of the said models complement with all the possible colors used to make particular fashion creations. This is the reason why for many years, the white models [both men and women] dominated the fashion modeling industry. However, when globalization pushed forward to making a statement on global camaraderie, the need to change course has become an essential pattern to take into notable consideration.
The Point of Globalization
Globalization opened up new doors of development for the fashion industry to explore new ways of presenting their products, their styles and even their models. From pure-white models, the business owners of such clothing companies and fashion organizations began to open their mind towards considering accepting models from other cultures with a variety of colors. Relatively, this meant employing models from different races. This approach has been considered necessary so as to make the industry’s market impact much larger in scope. Notably, this means that the more colored models there are, the more colored buyers in the market are to be able to appreciate the products that the industry releases for general consumption.
The sense of oneness has become a source of confidence among business owners that their sales and profit earnings would surely double or even triple compared from all the other years of operation. Nevertheless, such changes offered several challenges to the designers who had to make sure that the designs would fit the color and the body contour of their models. These challenges largely involved the resolution towards the problem of the fashion industry being applicable only for those who can “wear and carry” what the industry itself produces for the market. At some point, it seemed that this particular resolution solves every aspect of the issue on the fashion industry being branded as discriminative from the point of its emergence. However, there are more underlying problems that should be accounted for.
The Undeniable Problem
While it is true that the fashion industry already involved employing models from all colors of all races, the problem remains; there are instances when race becomes a serious issue in the industry especially when it comes to color choices. At present, there are at least only three out of ten models who belong to the colored races. Somehow, colored races such as blacks and Asians are still considered as minorities in the industry. While some of the highest paid ranking models include black women like Tyra Banks, it could be analyzed that only 23% of the overall population of models from all around the globe belong to the colored races.
Could the reason still be rooted in the compatibility of the design with skin colors or is the problem rooted out from something deeper than the said claim of definition? According to Janice Cheddie’s article on The Politics of the First: The Emergence of the Black Model in the Civil Rights Era, fashion critics claim that it is the inability of the colored models [specifically the black ones] to sell the products at a high rate that makes them a lesser choice compared to white models (66). Notably, it is the considerable acceptance of the market towards the models that the designers and fashion industry administrators assume to be the reason behind the low rate of colored models working in the said field of profession. How much fact is there into this particular claim? Is the saleable factor of each model’s identifiable physical characteristic really a reason for the lower rate of sales of some clothing lines that utilize the service of colored models? Is it a just matter that the industry provides more employment opportunities to white models than to those who are of color?
What Makes Fashion Saleable
The idea of what is beautiful often impacts the saleable factor of every particular product released by the fashion industry in the market. May it be clothing, shoes or accessories, the thought of each element providing the wearer an enhancement of beauty that they hope to receive is what makes each product marketable. Notably, in the new-age society, beauty and its value is defined and depicted in many different ways. One of which is through media. In line with the dimensions of modern fashion, modern media represents beauty in different angles. Sometimes in line with physical figure, sometimes with facial expression, sometimes with body language, sometimes with skin color and sometimes even with one’s value of culture (McDermott, 2010, 32).
While the principle of globalization continues to create ties between nations hence fueling the possibility of creating a connective source of camaraderie between countries, the perception of humans towards diversity creates a deeper impact on how such a principle would be accepted as a viable source of confidence in industries like fashion. It could be noted that while media represents “black” to be “beautiful” they often contradict this matter through showing the culture of the society that belong to the black colored communities (Steele, 2000, 45). Often branding them to be aggressive and sexually pressing, the society then begins to see individuals coming from the black race specifically different. The same thing is true with other colored nationalities.
The way media plays with the mind of the people presses so much on how the people respond to such influential messages; a matter that directly affects how products offered by such nations are accepted in the market. In a way, the implicative power of media affects both the perception and the decision of the market to purchase particular products that are released in the market including products related to fashion. In this case, it could be observed that it is not the industry of fashion that discriminates the models who are employed in the said field of commerce, instead, it is the market that sets up the discriminative lines by which the models and their value to the industry and the businesses enjoined in it are being recognized. The reaction of the market on how one product is presented through marketing presses a great impact on how an industry operates in the face of the global challenge of business competition. Considerably, it could be realized then that the existing discrimination in the industry of fashion cannot be solely accounted against the industry administrators and operators themselves but towards the market they hope to serve. Although it is evident that they can influence the mind of the market, the market’s perception over their operative presentations still serve as a great source of measurement of success in the said industry.
In considering the discussion of facts presented herein, it could be realized that discrimination in the field of fashion industry is regarded to come from two particular sources, marketability and buyer perception. In the face of global competition among businesses and among industries, it is essential that the reaction of the market be strongly carried into consideration especially when launching or presenting products to the prospective buyers. Undoubtedly such facts control the manner by which models for the fashion industry are carefully chosen at present. While some colored models are able to penetrate the industry, it is often true that they have to put on extra effort to remain recognizable reputable by the industry itself. While the market decides, the industry responds. This is the system that governs the fashion industry at present which is often mistaken by many as the essence of discrimination on the part of those running the businesses enjoined within the said industry.
True, while globalization does provide a strong stepping stone of brotherhood and camaraderie among nations, differences among individuals cannot be completely eliminated as it is what makes the market a strong dictating factor in most elements of modern commerce today. Fashion is just one of the many industries that the market dictates. The response of those running and administering the said institutional industry in the field of modern commerce simply hopes to increase sales in the best possible manner available. Notably, sometimes this may involve the need to deal with controversial issues such as racial discrimination.
Marlin, Hubert. Manipulation and prejudice.
Cheddie, Janice. The Politics of the First: The Emergence of the Black Model in the Civil Rights Era. Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Cumming, Valeri. ( 2004). Understanding Fashion History. Costume & Fashion Press.
Hollander, Anne. (2002). Fabric of vision: dress and drapery in painting. London: National Gallery.
McDermott, Kathleen. (2010). Style for all: why fashion, invented by kings, now belongs to all of us (An illustrated history). Costume & Fashion Press.
Perrot, Philippe (translated by Richard Bienvenu). (1994). Fashioning the bourgeoisie: a history of clothing in the nineteenth century, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Steele, Valerie. (2000). Fifty years of fashion: new look to now. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Time is precious
don’t waste it!