Adbusters

Damn the Fashionistas!

How do we lessen advertising's grip on culture?

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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 51 - 60 of 108

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Happy Consumer

Good points, Llloyd, I can sort of agree with you in some ways, but then there's a lack of humility in buying a shirt for over a hundred dollars. Or punk/indie-rock styled shoes, for that matter.

Nothing is wrong with fashion. Fashion is unavoidable. Wearing clothes is a necessity. Fashion, style and culture come out of how people meet that need. Architecture, recipes, fashion, etc. are unavoidable. They are also (usually) beautiful examples of human ingenuity, innovation and resourcefulness.

What I think the point is, is all of this influence, coercion, and value reinforcement (appealing girls are white, overly thin, young) that goes into our eyes & heads everyday. That's really the problem.

Right Sarah? Kale?

Happy Consumer

Good points, Llloyd, I can sort of agree with you in some ways, but then there's a lack of humility in buying a shirt for over a hundred dollars. Or punk/indie-rock styled shoes, for that matter.

Nothing is wrong with fashion. Fashion is unavoidable. Wearing clothes is a necessity. Fashion, style and culture come out of how people meet that need. Architecture, recipes, fashion, etc. are unavoidable. They are also (usually) beautiful examples of human ingenuity, innovation and resourcefulness.

What I think the point is, is all of this influence, coercion, and value reinforcement (appealing girls are white, overly thin, young) that goes into our eyes & heads everyday. That's really the problem.

Right Sarah? Kale?

Lloyd Pitcher

Happy Consumer,

You mentioned "there's a lack of humility in buying a shirt for over a hundred dollars". The sad truth is that if you buy a shirt for under a hundred dollars you are buying cheap crap made in a sweatshop. (Unless you buy used of course) Would you make and sell a shirt for a hundred dollars? I wouldn't! People need to realize that clothing and almost everything else we buy today is possible because of cheap off-shore labor. Again, we need less but more of better quality.

As for your point on the imagery, I totally agree with you. It's pretty sad also that people respond to it by heading to the stores.

Lloyd Pitcher

Happy Consumer,

You mentioned "there's a lack of humility in buying a shirt for over a hundred dollars". The sad truth is that if you buy a shirt for under a hundred dollars you are buying cheap crap made in a sweatshop. (Unless you buy used of course) Would you make and sell a shirt for a hundred dollars? I wouldn't! People need to realize that clothing and almost everything else we buy today is possible because of cheap off-shore labor. Again, we need less but more of better quality.

As for your point on the imagery, I totally agree with you. It's pretty sad also that people respond to it by heading to the stores.

Anonymous

Even designer brands (Prada et al) are utilizing cheap Chinese labour now. The 'artisans' may make a few hundred prototypes but the final Gucci hand bag you buy will have been sewn in a factory in China. It is literally impossible to avoid purchasing mass produced items (ie not $500 +) that have had no part of their production in a sweatshop. High end designers just have better quality control: they may ensure happiness to some, but they are still complicit in modern day slavery.

Incidentally, Chairman Mao has a lot more in common with you and your ideas than you might like to admit. The reason you have the luxury and freedom you do is because your country did not and does not opt to resist the exploitation of human beings (Black slaves, Asian labourers) in the interests of profit, comfort and convenience for its citizens.

Luxury clothing and the fashion industry as a whole is a symptom of a system which enables a small group of selfish, over-resourced people to literally consume human life (a few US cents an hour). You don't see anything wrong with it because you choose to imagine that because the items are expensive that the manufacturers would not pay as little as possible for their labour? That they would employ Italians to sew?

The brands you mention are more like Starbucks and Wal-mart than you think.

Anonymous

Even designer brands (Prada et al) are utilizing cheap Chinese labour now. The 'artisans' may make a few hundred prototypes but the final Gucci hand bag you buy will have been sewn in a factory in China. It is literally impossible to avoid purchasing mass produced items (ie not $500 +) that have had no part of their production in a sweatshop. High end designers just have better quality control: they may ensure happiness to some, but they are still complicit in modern day slavery.

Incidentally, Chairman Mao has a lot more in common with you and your ideas than you might like to admit. The reason you have the luxury and freedom you do is because your country did not and does not opt to resist the exploitation of human beings (Black slaves, Asian labourers) in the interests of profit, comfort and convenience for its citizens.

Luxury clothing and the fashion industry as a whole is a symptom of a system which enables a small group of selfish, over-resourced people to literally consume human life (a few US cents an hour). You don't see anything wrong with it because you choose to imagine that because the items are expensive that the manufacturers would not pay as little as possible for their labour? That they would employ Italians to sew?

The brands you mention are more like Starbucks and Wal-mart than you think.

Lloyd Pitcher

Anonymous,

You didn't read my commentary very closely because in many ways I agree with you. However, I disagree with you in that the "lesser" of the two evils is the company that creates versus the company that simply copies someone else and mass produces. I agree with you that the real issue is foreign mass-production in general and on a consumer-centric American buyer who buys, buys, buys, with his over-leveraged house and credit cards. If I had it my way we would be producing clothes here in America. Again, we should opt for less...but the stuff we do buy we should always get better quality and products that are produced locally.

As an aside, you should examine how it is that we Westerners can exploit cheap 3rd World labor. If all our money is leaving the country to buy this cheap crap, how is it that we can continue to spend? Follow the yellow-brick road to this...and you will find the real evil-doers of this world.

PS. I'm very confident that I have zero to do with chairman Mao...that's the first time ever that I've been called a communist!!! ha ha ha

Lloyd Pitcher

Anonymous,

You didn't read my commentary very closely because in many ways I agree with you. However, I disagree with you in that the "lesser" of the two evils is the company that creates versus the company that simply copies someone else and mass produces. I agree with you that the real issue is foreign mass-production in general and on a consumer-centric American buyer who buys, buys, buys, with his over-leveraged house and credit cards. If I had it my way we would be producing clothes here in America. Again, we should opt for less...but the stuff we do buy we should always get better quality and products that are produced locally.

As an aside, you should examine how it is that we Westerners can exploit cheap 3rd World labor. If all our money is leaving the country to buy this cheap crap, how is it that we can continue to spend? Follow the yellow-brick road to this...and you will find the real evil-doers of this world.

PS. I'm very confident that I have zero to do with chairman Mao...that's the first time ever that I've been called a communist!!! ha ha ha

Lloyd Pitcher

Also interesting to note.....The works of art that a lot of you Adbusters applaud are strikingly similar to the images used in these ad featured above.

For instance see the woman pulling the scroll out of her vagina in this Adbusters feature: https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/83/an_aesthetic_crisis.html

What exactly is the goal of "Adbusting"? To encourage individuality or to suppress it? Is the goal a collectivist or communist goal or is it a individual of libertarian one? I think all of you Adbusters should be asking this question....Mr. Lasn too!

Lloyd Pitcher

Also interesting to note.....The works of art that a lot of you Adbusters applaud are strikingly similar to the images used in these ad featured above.

For instance see the woman pulling the scroll out of her vagina in this Adbusters feature: https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/83/an_aesthetic_crisis.html

What exactly is the goal of "Adbusting"? To encourage individuality or to suppress it? Is the goal a collectivist or communist goal or is it a individual of libertarian one? I think all of you Adbusters should be asking this question....Mr. Lasn too!

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