Adbusters

Damn the Fashionistas!

How do we lessen advertising's grip on culture?

[ssp|path=blogs/slideshow/homeless_chic|width=590|height=388]

It would be all too easy to fly into an indignant, leftist rage at the sight of a wan model dressed in luxury shopping bags and splayed out next to garbage cans. But that’s probably the exact reaction W magazine was banking on with its “homeless chic” pictorial. Fashion advertising is increasingly driven by the dialectic between salacious imagery and moral outrage. Something so absurd as the W spread, in which destitution has never looked so glamorous, seems more like a culture jam – an effort to subvert the advertising – than advertising itself. But advertising, like a virus, is always evolving. It has appropriated absurdity in an attempt to render itself immune to subversion. And now people who see the magazine will break into two camps – those who think its reprehensible and those who think its fabulous. Those two sides will argue, keeping W exactly where it wants to be - in the spotlight. So anyone truly concerned with lessening advertising’s grip on culture will have to figure out not how to subvert this kind of ad, but how to jam the dialectic it feeds on. How do we do that? How can we jam the ad industry and the fashionistas?

Sarah Nardi

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108 comments on the article “Damn the Fashionistas!”

Displaying 21 - 30 of 108

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Anonymous

Are these actually models? They look like display store mannequins to me. The best way to undermine the influence of advertising on the culture is to de-dramatize it, and re-ground the imagery it is seeking to project in reality - pictures of real homeless women, pictures of normal people wearing fashionable clothing. The former will show how hollow and meaningless the imagery is, compared to the real thing... the second will undermine the idea that the clothing transforms you into something else.

How to do this with no resources, of course, is another question.

Anonymous

Are these actually models? They look like display store mannequins to me. The best way to undermine the influence of advertising on the culture is to de-dramatize it, and re-ground the imagery it is seeking to project in reality - pictures of real homeless women, pictures of normal people wearing fashionable clothing. The former will show how hollow and meaningless the imagery is, compared to the real thing... the second will undermine the idea that the clothing transforms you into something else.

How to do this with no resources, of course, is another question.

d schwartz

well, seeing as living kind, gentle lives gets no love, let's go with plan B.

Plan B (individuals): When confronted with a "fashionista", punch directly in the nose. Do so with malice and force. Proceed to kick and punch until said "fashionista" is prone.

NOTE:physical destruction of the fashion articles themselves is optional, as some may be considered valuable for their historical or artistic qualities.

Plan B (companies): Paint large human gentalia on all signs, buildings, documents, and other capital related to offending company. Destruction of capital by other means is also acceptable.

NOTE: Escalating the fight will require balls (or ovaries) of USW approved steel (not that bullshit Chinese stuff)

d schwartz

well, seeing as living kind, gentle lives gets no love, let's go with plan B.

Plan B (individuals): When confronted with a "fashionista", punch directly in the nose. Do so with malice and force. Proceed to kick and punch until said "fashionista" is prone.

NOTE:physical destruction of the fashion articles themselves is optional, as some may be considered valuable for their historical or artistic qualities.

Plan B (companies): Paint large human gentalia on all signs, buildings, documents, and other capital related to offending company. Destruction of capital by other means is also acceptable.

NOTE: Escalating the fight will require balls (or ovaries) of USW approved steel (not that bullshit Chinese stuff)

Lloyd Pitcher

Mr. Schwartz, you are an idiot. I love adbusters and get a lot of intellectual stimulation by it....but sometimes I think most of you are misdirected youth who are the victims of different advertising. You have been hoodwinked into thinking anything or anyone that makes money is bad. This is incorrect thinking.

Lloyd Pitcher

Mr. Schwartz, you are an idiot. I love adbusters and get a lot of intellectual stimulation by it....but sometimes I think most of you are misdirected youth who are the victims of different advertising. You have been hoodwinked into thinking anything or anyone that makes money is bad. This is incorrect thinking.

d schwartz

Thanks for the push Llyod, your critique is inspired
a quick note: plan B = facetious comment; it is a polar opposite of the first comment I made, and was typed in jest. It is a hyperbolic comment similar in idiocy to other comments that, as you so deftly put it, miss the point.
aside 2: I do not think money is bad, see first comment. On the contrary, I think that money is an essential economic lubricant without which we would have a tough time innovating and solving complex problems.
Now, back to this article. Like many articles in the magazine, this one touches on the grave issues in our society, but sadly fails to strike the nail on the head. Instead of focusing on nailing down the root issues, excessive demand for hypercheap goods and the exploitation that supplying it entails, the article puts focus on the social commentary that exists in much of high-fashion and the devil of advertising.
In my humble opinion, high fashion is art, similar to painting, sculpture, music, etc. It should be looked upon and critiqued by our society as such. However, cheap knock offs with the help of ingenious marketing have lifted high fashion onto a pedestal, and in the process shifted its critique away from social commentary, beauty and innovation towards a commodity like rice or oil.
As many have pointed out thus far, paying 600$ for a t-shirt is abhorrent. Unless, this price reflects the value you place on the item, and you have the money to pay for it. The problem lies in that the beauty and artistry of said t-shirt are admired and desired for their beauty, craftsmanship, and scarcity. This desire (aka demand) rests in all people, of all economic levels, most of whom are unwilling to pay 600$. They are, however, willing to pay 40$, 20$ or 5$. Companies who make shirts know this, and do their best to deliver cheap shirts that are similar to the rare, beautiful shirts desired. In the age of integrated global economics, this often means employing labour in countries that have little or no labour rights and enlisting the help of advertising agencies who are paid to give the public the impression that the knock offs are as good as, if not better than the art.
So, is our society in danger because of artists like Karl Lagerfeld or Rei Kawakubo create beautiful clothes, and show them off in controversial ways? I think not. Is it in danger from the advertising that sells the knock offs? Perhaps there is some danger, but I cannot help but think that attacking advertising is like shooting the messenger. The ads we are pitched reflect what we want to see, and are therefore effective. Creating a massive adjamming movement will simply signal the companies and the advertisers to change their approach. We need too change what we want to see.
In my humble opinion, we need to focus on health and unbiased educated. For more info, see the work of Hans Rosling (http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_at_state.html) and Greg Mortenson and his Central Asian institute (http://www.threecupsoftea.com/).

d schwartz

Thanks for the push Llyod, your critique is inspired
a quick note: plan B = facetious comment; it is a polar opposite of the first comment I made, and was typed in jest. It is a hyperbolic comment similar in idiocy to other comments that, as you so deftly put it, miss the point.
aside 2: I do not think money is bad, see first comment. On the contrary, I think that money is an essential economic lubricant without which we would have a tough time innovating and solving complex problems.
Now, back to this article. Like many articles in the magazine, this one touches on the grave issues in our society, but sadly fails to strike the nail on the head. Instead of focusing on nailing down the root issues, excessive demand for hypercheap goods and the exploitation that supplying it entails, the article puts focus on the social commentary that exists in much of high-fashion and the devil of advertising.
In my humble opinion, high fashion is art, similar to painting, sculpture, music, etc. It should be looked upon and critiqued by our society as such. However, cheap knock offs with the help of ingenious marketing have lifted high fashion onto a pedestal, and in the process shifted its critique away from social commentary, beauty and innovation towards a commodity like rice or oil.
As many have pointed out thus far, paying 600$ for a t-shirt is abhorrent. Unless, this price reflects the value you place on the item, and you have the money to pay for it. The problem lies in that the beauty and artistry of said t-shirt are admired and desired for their beauty, craftsmanship, and scarcity. This desire (aka demand) rests in all people, of all economic levels, most of whom are unwilling to pay 600$. They are, however, willing to pay 40$, 20$ or 5$. Companies who make shirts know this, and do their best to deliver cheap shirts that are similar to the rare, beautiful shirts desired. In the age of integrated global economics, this often means employing labour in countries that have little or no labour rights and enlisting the help of advertising agencies who are paid to give the public the impression that the knock offs are as good as, if not better than the art.
So, is our society in danger because of artists like Karl Lagerfeld or Rei Kawakubo create beautiful clothes, and show them off in controversial ways? I think not. Is it in danger from the advertising that sells the knock offs? Perhaps there is some danger, but I cannot help but think that attacking advertising is like shooting the messenger. The ads we are pitched reflect what we want to see, and are therefore effective. Creating a massive adjamming movement will simply signal the companies and the advertisers to change their approach. We need too change what we want to see.
In my humble opinion, we need to focus on health and unbiased educated. For more info, see the work of Hans Rosling (http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_at_state.html) and Greg Mortenson and his Central Asian institute (http://www.threecupsoftea.com/).

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