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Imitation in fashion: Further reflections on the work of Thorstein Veblen and Georg Simmel

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Imitation continues to play a significant role within the fashion industry, but not in the way that Thorstein Veblen and Georg Simmel, who wrote over 100 years ago, suggest. Increased inequality in incomes, the adoption of an ethics of labour over leisure, and the creation of celebrities within the music and movie industries, who appear proximate to a broad demographic of consumers, means the social elite are no longer the predominant trendsetters and exemplars of sartorial tastes. More fundamentally, globalization has reduced interpersonal connections and increased feelings of isolation within many individuals. Correlatively, periods of the past, which appear to offer security, stability and status, have become an increasingly important source of sartorial – and cultural – imitation, as evidenced by the growing popularity of retro and vintage clothing styles. An awareness of the role played by heritage and history in the consumption of fashion is therefore important for researchers in academia and industry.
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Keywords: Georg Simmel; Thorstein Veblen; globalization; heritage; imitation; sociology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent Scholar

Publication date: 01 October 2016

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  • 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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