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Fashion cultures in a small town: An analysis of fashion- and place-making

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In her introduction to this issue, Kaiser advances a perspective that highlights dimensions of place and time in a dynamic and non-stereotypical way. Rather than treating these dimensions as background factors in the architecture of interaction context, she critically unpacks the ways in which time and place impact individual and collective fashion meanings. In our article we draw on Kaiser’s focus by using ethnographic methods to investigate how fashion is ‘produced’ to convey identification with place, group and/or a temporary alliance in a rural community where landscape is constitutive of social configurations and the student population is always transient. To that end we replace the notion of fixed visual identities with phatic communities, which are ad hoc groupings sharing a cause or a circumstance (Tseëlon 2010). Next, we address the problem of how to preserve the meanings and looks of ad hoc fashions, which exist in a constant state of change. We apply the logic of phatic communities to the building of a museum collection, which has to meet the challenge of capturing a fleeting and evolving phenomenon without freezing it into fixed categories. Contrary to the logic of traditional museums, a museum documenting ongoing clothing changes invites a different mode of engagement: one that is participatory and interactive. Finally, our conception of the sartorial museum, which documents changing time in a particular place, replaces the notion of the museum as a ‘space of death’ with the notion of a ‘space of regeneration’. The regeneration is the recycling, which repositions clothes in a ‘second life’.
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Keywords: costume museums; ethnography; fashion culture; phatic communities; place; space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of British Columbia 2: Cornell University

Publication date: October 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty is the first journal dedicated to the critical examination of the fashion and the beauty systems as symbolic spaces of production and reproduction, representation and communication of artifacts, meanings, social practices, and visual or textual renditions of cloth, clothing and appearance.

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