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Selling whose dream? A taxonomy of aspiration in fashion imagery

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Scholars and practitioners assume that women aspire to fashion photographs of idealized models. It is unknown, however, what makes a fashion image aspirational because previous researchers have not explored the various dimensions that evoke this concept. In this article, I share the development of a taxonomy that explains the evaluative criteria and image elements that elicit aspiration in fashion photographs based on data gathered in focus groups with 100 women. Findings reveal that women aspire to a fashion image according to their evaluations that it is honest, empowering and socially responsible. The models, creative direction and visual cues in the image trigger these three aspirational criteria. My research contributes the first taxonomy of aspiration in fashion photographs and to the enhancement of knowledge about consumer engagement with images. Industry professionals are encouraged to incorporate promotional photographs into their corporate social responsibility agenda and produce imagery that represents women’s diverse beauty and character alongside glamour and artistry.
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Keywords: aspiration; beauty ideals; body image; consumer behaviour; fashion advertising; fashion magazines; fashion models

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ryerson University

Publication date: March 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • Fashion, Style & Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal specifically dedicated to the area of fashion scholarship and its interfacings with popular culture. It was established to provide an interdisciplinary environment for fashion academics and practitioners to publish innovative scholarship in all aspects of fashion and popular culture relating to design, textiles, production, promotion, consumption and appearance-related products and services. Articles related to history, manufacturing, aesthetics, sourcing, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, technology, psychological/sociological aspects of dress, style, body image, and cultural identities, as well as purchasing, shopping, and the ways and means consumers construct identity as associated to Fashion, Style & Popular Culture are welcomed. The journal offers a broad range of written and visual scholarship and includes works done through various methods of research. We welcome conceptual, theoretical and translational applied research in the areas of fashion, style and popular culture. This journal hopes to stimulate new discussions in the fashion disciplines and to push the envelope of scholarship by welcoming new and established scholars to submit their works.
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