Image

The dichotomy that arises between the transnationalization of a commodity and the desire for it to remain recognizably local is one which plagues the fashion industry and those who work to sell luxury fashion in diverse environments. In the work entitled “Identities as a Multimedia Spectacle,” Nestor Garcia Canclini describes the struggle of the film industry to create and perpetuate the idea of a “world cinema” which uses the most exciting and advanced technology to expand these films to an international audience. The problem that arises involves the loss of a more localized perspective and the increasingly homogenous point of view being spread as though it were a representation of all Americans.  

The luxury fashion industry in New York faces similar issues as described by Canclini and it is interesting to consider the ways in which the situation is mediated or, potentially, left untouched or unsolved. Spring/Summer 2014 Fashion Week has just occurred in New York and after reading Canclini’s work, I have been able to consider the implications of the week more profoundly. Firstly, all of the fashion designers in the United States are expected to show their collections seasonally at NYFW as a sign that they have established themselves in the successful fashion community. This is a blatant loss of the local perspective as many designers come from locations outside of New York, or even foreign countries, that are ignored as they enter the industry here. Although they might maintain some semblance of their original localities in their designs, having one city represent an entire country of designers with diverse and interesting backgrounds seems as if it is an unjust, or even untrue, representation of our country’s fashion taste and offerings.

In our class discussion on Tuesday, we discussed the ritual dimensions of consumption, which include gift giving, daily grooming, divestment, personalization and tradition. Through our readings, I have come to consider the fact that rituals are culturally dictated and, thus, distinctive depending on place. Cultural rituals specific to New York might have little to do with a foreign designer, such as Oscar de la Renta from the Dominican Republic; however, over time, these designers will tend to conform to New York’s rituals as they are immersed in the culture for longer periods. The institution of fashion, as with cinema, is one which creates a social norm that can be used to transform the local into the homogeneous transnational. 

“Regional cultures, nevertheless, persist,” says Canclini, and I agree. I wonder, though, how much more diversity and fascinating cultural particularities we would see in fashion if the nucleus of the industry dispersed itself throughout the country. 

Advertisements