Fashion as an Integral Aspect of Modern Culture

The suggestion that fashion industry exerts a great influence onto defining the very subtleties of Western living, is now being perceived by the majority of people as quite self-evident. After all, it nowadays would have proven quite impossible to find a single Western man or woman, who never even tried ensuring its fashionable appearance, while in public.

As Thompson and Haytko (1997) have noted: Western fashion pattern is characterized by novelty, rapid changes, a proliferation of styles, and, more important, the mass consumption of fashion goods (16). Therefore, it comes as not a particular surprise that, in minds of many people, the very term fashion often connotes progressiveness. The reason for this is simple in order to be considered a progressive individual, one necessarily must profess the values of intellectual flexibility.

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And, given the fact that one of the foremost characteristics of Western fashion is its continuous qualitative transformation, it is fully explainable why in Western countries, people strive to dress fashionably and to lead fashionable lifestyles by doing it, they subconsciously aim at emanating the full extent of their existential adaptability. In its turn, this confirms the full objectiveness of their high evolutionary status to themselves and to the whole world.

In this paper, we will aim to substantiate the full validity of an earlier articulated thesis, while exposing the concept of fashion as such that derives out of the notion of progress, which in its turn, is being objectively predetermined by the particulars of progress carriers genetic constitution and by the very essence of historical dialectics.

At the same time, we will aim to show that, despite the fact that Western fashion continues to emanate the spirit of individualism, as its most distinctive characteristic, as time goes on Westerners appear to be left with less and less of the actual individuality, as the result of them being gradually deprived of their former biological vitality.

Analytical part
Due to institutionalization of political correctness in Western countries, it now became somewhat socially inappropriate to suggest that peoples external appearance reflects the actual workings of their psyche. This, however, does not make this kind of suggestion less legitimate, from scientific point of view. After all, the representatives of Homo Sapiens specie are essentially primates, in biological sense of this word.

And, given the fact that people are being subjected to evolutionary laws as much as plants and animals, it would only be logical to presuppose that, just as it is being the case among sub-species of plants and animals, human sub-species place on the ladder of evolution is being defined by the extent of their existential complexity.

In its turn, the extent of peoples complexity is best defined by their varying ability to operate with abstract categories, because it is namely by being intellectually superior to other species of mammals that people were able to ensure their undisputed biological dominance on Earth.

Nevertheless, as biologists and sociologists are being well aware of, peoples varying ability to indulge in abstract thinking is genetically rather than socially predetermined, which is why the specifics of particular individuals racial affiliation have been proven to reflect the subtleties of his or her Intellectual Quotidian (IQ). According to Lynn and Vanhanen (2002): IQs appear to be determined by the racial and ethnic make-up of the populationsThe IQs of 96 are typical of Europeans.

The countries with lower proportions of Europeans and greater proportions of Native Americans, Blacks, and Mestizos have lower IQs (63). As it was shown by the authors, in such African countries as Equatorial Guinea and Central African Republic, the average rate of citizens IQ equals 50; whereas, White people who score lower then 70, while IQ-tested, end up being declared mentally deficient.

What has been pointed out to earlier directly relates to the subject of this papers discussion, simply because the extent of peoples intellectual advancement correlates with their tendency to distinguish themselves out of the surrounding environment (which is the driving force behind fashion as thing in itself) in exponential progression.

Alternatively, the more intellectually primitive a particular individual happened to be, the more he or she would be likely to associate itself with the environment, as its integral part. In turn, this would presuppose the lessened extent of such individuals fashion-related sensitivity.

In his book, Bruhl (1928) was able to define the qualitative essence of primitive perception of surrounding reality with utter precision: Identity appears in their (natives) collective representations as a moving assemblage or totality of mystic actions and reactions, within which individual does not subjectualize but objectualize itself (120).

Whereas, indigenous people are being more capable of perceiving existential challenges through the lenses of utilitarian practicality, as compared what it is the case with native-born Westerners, their ability to define dialectical relationship between causes and effects appears significantly undermined.

As it was shown in Bruhls book, after having been asked to exclude semantically unrelated word out of wordily sequence axe hammer saw log, indigenous people in Brazil, South-East Asia, Africa and Australia were experiencing a particularly hard time in their eyes, the earlier mentioned sequence made a perfectly good sense as it was.

The fact that words axe, hammer and saw could be categorized as instruments, on one hand, and that the word log could be categorized as material, on another, never even occurred to these people.

Therefore, indigenous peoples cognitive closeness to nature, which is now being often represented as the ultimate proof as to their moral superiority, when compared to evil Whites, is best discussed in terms of being a proof to something entirely different namely, their lessened humanity, in conventional sense of this word.

This is exactly the reason why fashion is unmistakably Western (White) concept. By trying to follow fashions latest trends, Westerners strive not only to make themselves more attractive to the representatives of an opposite sex, but to expose themselves as existentially sovereign individuals, whose superiority allows them the luxury not to care about blending with the environment, as foremost precondition of their physical survival, which is usually the case with primitive people in Third World countries.

As it was rightly noted by Simmel (1973): The savage is afraid of strange appearances; the difficulties and dangers that beset his career cause him to scent danger in anything new which he does not understand and which he cannot consign to a familiar category.

Civilization, however, transforms this affection into its very opposite (176). Apparently, fashion allows Westerners to emphasize the fact that they are being endowed with cognitively flexible individuality, in the first place, which in its turn, allows them to act as facilitators of social, cultural and scientific progress.

This partially explains the reason why the very notion of whiteness has traditionally been considered fashionable. For example, during the course of 19th century, women used to drink small amounts of poison, so that their skin would appear particularly pale. According to Macgregor (1967): The anglicizing of surnames has been a common practice since the early days of colonization. Negroes have long used skin-whiteners and hair-straighteners, while American Indian and Asian women employ permanent waves for their straight hair (125).

Nowadays, in China and Japan it costs approximately $20.000 for beauty-seeking individuals to undergo plastic surgery, in order for their eyes to be corrected hence, appearing less slanted. Regardless of what happened to be their racial affiliation, teenage girls prefer to play with specifically blond and blue-eyed Barbie dolls.

And, it would be wrong to imply that people are being drawn towards whiteness, as something particularly fashionable, as the result of their ancestors having been subjected to White oppression, which in its turn, prevented these people from exploring their ethno-cultural individuality.

On the contrary it is because the notion of White oppression is being synonymous to the notion of progress, which explains the earlier mentioned phenomenon. Apparently, fashion serves the function of satisfying peoples desire to look like those, whom these people consider the representatives of reference groups.

Fashion creators are the group of individuals that redistribute the lifestyle of those that are being considered worthy of mimicking. Masses do not assess fashion designers offers as representing value in itself. It is only when these offers are being consistent with values, professed by representatives of a particular reference group that they get to be referred to as truly valuable.

For example, even though the folkish ethnographic motifs are being often presented in Western designers lines of clothing, it is only when this kind of clothing seems to appeal to White peoples aesthetic tastes, which triggers its popularity with consumers on world-wide scale.

The validity of this suggestion can be illustrated in regards to 2008 scandal, associated with banning Chinese journalists from being present at haute couture fashion presentations in Paris. Although, Chinese are being more then capable designing their own lines of fashionable clothing, they nevertheless prefer to copy the works of Western fashion designers and to consequentially manufacture them on industrial scale.

And, the reason why it is namely Western fashion styles that are being widely mimicked, is that mimickers subconsciously feel that these styles emanate the spirit of innovation and creativeness the true measure of fashionableness. Let us elaborate on this at length.

As we are well aware of, the societies in todays world can be generally categorized as post-industrial (Western/urban) and pre-industrial/traditional (Indigenous/rural). The members of post-industrial/urbanized societies profess the values of intellectual flexibility, tolerance, non-religiosity and individualism.

The members of traditional/rural societies, on another hand, profess qualitatively opposite values of strong religiosity, perceptional tribalism, intellectual inflexibility and collectivism. Such qualitative division between peoples lifestyles in different parts of the world has been dialectically predetermined.

Because, as we have shown earlier, people in traditional societies are being known for their lesser ability to indulge in intellectual pursuits, it prevents these societies from generating what Marx would have referred to as an additional surplus value. In its turn, this explains why the majority of citizens in Third World countries continue to live in the state of an extreme poverty and also the particulars of these peoples lifestyles.

For example, in such countries as India and Bangladesh, the number of children per average family often accounts for as many as 10-15. This however, has nothing to do with natives love towards the children, as particularly progressive Western social scientists would like us to believe, but with the simple fact that in intellectually primitive, rural society, the possession of many (preferably boys), on the part of parents, is often the only guarantee of their physical survival.

This is exactly the reason why in rural India and China it continues to represent a commonplace practice among parents to simply dispose of newly born baby-girls, as an unnecessary mouths to feed.

All the members of traditional/rural societies care about is ensuring their physical survival, which leaves them with very little time to be concerned about anything else, except for trying to appease their tribal Gods, so that there would be rain, so that there would be plenty of rice, so that they would be able to fill their stomachs with that rice and to get back to baby-making, etc.

And, once there is a time to harvest, these rurally minded people have no option but to rely on each other heavily, while indulging in agricultural work, which endows them with collectivist mentality. Thus, there are objective preconditions for traditional societies to be static, socially, culturally and religiously homogeneous and for such societies members to experience a constant shortage of material goods.

And, it is needless to mention, of course, that these dialectically predetermined preconditions unable even a slight possibility for the members of traditional societies to be concerned about the matters of fashion. This is the reason why fashion could not originate in traditional societies, by definition. As Craik (2003) had put it: Treating fashion as a marker of civilization is the reason why fashion has been excluded from the repertoires of non-western cultures.

Other codes of clothing behavior are relegated to the realm of costume which, as pre-civilized behavior, is characterized in opposition to fashion, as traditional, unchanging, fixed by social status, and group-oriented (4). One does not have to be an expert on fashion to recognize the full soundness of Craiks suggestion.

For example, among many Muslim immigrant-women to Western countries it now became a commonplace practice to justify their willingness to appear in public in burkas (black cloak, worn over the head) by the fact that by doing it, they are able to explore the cultural uniqueness and by the fact that they do believe in burka-wearing to be indeed fashionable. Such their justification, however, has very little to do with the actual truth.

The reason for this is simple in traditional societies, religious laws rigidly regulate the wearing of a particular piece of closing, so that the inferiority-related particulars of wearers social status would be visible to others, which is yet an additional indication of traditional societies primitive primevalness.

After all, in highly stratified societies of apes, alpha-males also consider imposing the appearance code upon weaker males and females as one of their foremost priorities. For example, the older females that alpha-male considers its property, are being forbidden from even trying to beatify themselves by the mean of inserting straws and leafs into their ears (it is considered very fashionable among apes) under the punishment of mutilation and death.

By imposing the appearance code, alpha-males emphasize their dominant social status. In essentially the same manner, Talibans members used to enforce Islamic dress-code upon Afghani women, while subjecting them to the punishment of public stoning, if they dared to appear in public without burkas over their heads.

Apparently, Allah-believing half-apes from Taliban did believe that dehumanization of women, on their part, was indeed some kind of god-pleasing deed. As it was rightly noted by Collins (2003): The , with its sinister, airless little grille, is more than an instrument of persecution, it is a public tarring and feathering of female sexuality

In its objectifying of women, it turns them into covering creatures demanding and expecting violence and victimization (63). What it means that there can be no traditional/religious fashion by definition, just as there can be no traditional space rockets or nuclear reactors.

Fashion has always been associated with modernity and this will continue to be the case in the future. Therefore, it is the very fact that Western societies advance the cause of modernity, which creates objective preconditions for the continuous existence of Western fashion industry, as we know it.

In order for a particular fashion style to appeal to consumers, it must be modern even if this style is being concerned with exploiting the fashionable elements from the past. This is the reason why in Western countries, the value of an item of clothing corresponds to such items fashionable freshness the more up to date it appears to be, the more people would be willing to pay for it.

Therefore, fashion is always universal and socially diffusive, as it does not recognize national borders and opposes the enforcement of peoples social stratification. At the same time, the concept of fashion is being utterly inconsistent with the notion of equality the synonym of energetic entropy, which is the synonym of degradation and death. This is the reason why there has never been fashion in formerly Socialist countries.

Moreover, this is also the reason why it is namely in individualistic/capitalist Western societies, where fashion designers are being given a green light to explore the full extent of their creativeness by indulging in their professional pursuits, fashion designers simultaneously provide a powerful boost the proper of functioning of free-market economy.

There is a memorable scene in 2006 movie Devil Wears Prada, in which Miranda Priestly (the editor of a fashion magazine) explains her newly hired secretary Andy the actual implications of latters inability to distinguish blue skirt from celurian: Its actually cerulean.

And youre also blithely unaware of the fact that that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it filtered down through the department stores, where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs (00.15.30).

It is important to understand that the foremost aspect of post-industrial modernity is that, as time goes on, peoples individualism-driven intellect steadily replaces natural resources, in literal context of this word. For example; whereas, after the end of WW2, 80% of Transatlantic telephone cables self-cost accounted for copper, the material cost of todays fiber-optical Transatlantic telephone cable accounts for only 10%.

And yet; whereas, the old cable could only sustain 128 parallel calls, the fiber-optical one sustains 750.000 parallel calls. This is exactly the reason why, even though the intensity of industrial manufacturing in Western countries appears to decline in geometrical progression to the flow of time, citizens living standards continue to improve in the same progression.

And, the more intellectually refined is being the manner in which Westerners address lifes challenges, the more individualistic their existential mode appears to be.

Therefore, the growing number of Westerners refers to fashion as not solely the tool of emphasizing their individuality, but as fully objective source of income apparently, the semi-institutionalized status of fashion in Western societies, helps to ensure these societies inner integrity.

As it was pointed out by Hemphill and Suk (2009): Fashion highlights a social dynamic to which intellectual property law inevitably attends: the relation between the individual and the collective in the production and consumption of creative work. The interplay of individuality and commonality with others poses a constant tension in innovation and its regulation (1149).

The reason for this is simple in full accordance to evolutionary laws, it is specifically the high extent of White peoples existential quality, reflected by their highly individualistic attitudes, which allows them to enjoy geopolitical dominance in the world, even though that as of 2005, they accounted for only 5% of worlds population. After all, unlike what it is the case with people in Third World countries, post-industrial Whites do not easily unite around some common cause.

Neither, have been they noticed to possess a particular talent in baby-making yet, traditionally White countries continue to play major role on the arena of international politics.

Whereas; non-Westerners strive to ensure their biological competitiveness by affiliating themselves with the notion of quantity, Westerners do the same by the mean of affiliating themselves with the notion of quality. In its turn, this explains the subtleties of how intellectually advanced Whites perceive the concept of fashion, in the first place.

As it was being implied earlier, for them, the fashion is nothing but one among many tools of emphasizing their individuality by the mean of deliberately distancing themselves from others.

In her book, McCormick (2002) came up with perfectly legitimate observation that: One (white) woman can seriously hurt another, even to the point of making a permanent enemy of her, by being better or more uniquely dressed upon significant occasion. As long as individuality is permitted, women struggle with one another for wearing the latest or most costly frocks (90).

Apparently, Whites perceive the concept of individuality as being of clearly singular nature. This, however, cannot be said about the representatives of racial minorities in Western countries, as they perceive the value of a particular fashion style through the lenses of their collectivist mentality. For these people, being dressed fashionably often means being dressed in the manner that exhibits their close affiliation with a particular ethno-cultural or sub-cultural group.

The hip-hop or gangsta style, which features fake golden chains, backward-worn baseball hats and baggy pants, as its most conspicuous elements, is being perfectly illustrative, in this respect. After all, it would prove quite challengeable to find even a single Black or Hispanic youth in America, which would not be affiliated with this fashion-style.

And, what is particularly interesting about multicultural fashion styles, that its adherents often make a deliberate point in mocking the very idea that Western fashion, which originates out of free-markets proper functioning, may serve the need of emphasizing ones singular individuality. According to Decker (1993): Hip hop (style) parodies American consumerism by supporting the fake-fashion industry.

Designer logos are pirated, cutup, and placed not on handbags, but on hats, jackets, and pants (62). In other words, unlike what it is being usually the case with Western fashion, the value of intentionally non-Western fashion is being reflected by its ability to radiate the spirit of nihilism.

Nevertheless, the earlier provided line of argumentation as to significance of fashion in Western post-industrial societies, should not be thought as such that aims to idealize White peoples strongly defined sense of individualism, reflected by their fashion-related preferences. As we have hypothesized in the Introduction, the most of todays native-born Westerners appear to grow progressively weaker, in existential sense of this word, partially due to being subjected to ideological oppression of political correctness.

This is the reason why it would now prove quite impossible for an individual, endowed with the strong sense of masculine identity, for example, to be able to gain social prominence, because it is exactly peoples willingness to conform to the external circumstances, which defines their chances of social advancement in Western post-industrial world.

It only takes one look at todays Western politicians to realize there is no much of a difference between them, even though that they claim to advance different political agendas: the same grey suits, the same politically-correct rhetoric, the same conniving smiles, the same ability to lie in most convincing manner, etc.

Therefore, it comes as not a particular surprise that, as time goes on, more and more Western fashion trends appear to have been specifically designed for the purpose of concealing the fact that those Whites who like to dress fashionably, simply do not possess psychological traits that would allow them to feel comfortable, while exploring their inborn sense of individualism.

After all, the realities of todays Western modern living are being marked by the process of men growing increasingly feminised, on one hand, and by women growing increasingly masculinised, on another. For example, unlike what it used to be the case even as recent as 20-30 years ago, it is now being considered fully appropriate by more and more White male yuppies to go even as far as applying transparent polish to their fingernails.

Alternatively, progressively more women are now being found affiliated with such traditionally masculine occupations as fire fighters, police officers and pilots. This is the reason why most up-to-date Western womens fashions feature elements that used to be traditionally associated with mens clothing: pants, military style boots, berets, and leather jackets.

Mens fashion designers, on the other hand, strive to represent men as highly emotional beings with the mean of emphasising mens boyishness and emotional fragility, whenever is opportunity arises hence, such elements of contemporary mens fashions as oversized woven sweaters and tight trousers of disproportional length, which provide wearers with mommas boy type of appearance.

Thus, we now face a paradoxical situation that, even though Western fashion continues to exploit peoples individualistic anxieties, as time progresses, these anxieties seem to become ever more formalistic.

On the other hand, despite the fact that ethnic and sub-cultural fashions never ceased being concerned with exploiting the sense of collectivist belonging, on the part of its affiliates; they appear to become increasingly individualistic, as they do provide their fans with the sensation of existential strength whatever the ironic it might sound. And, it is only strong and self-confident people who may possess individuality worthy to be emphasized through fashion, in the first place.


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