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The issue of identity: From urban tribes to political consumerism to sharing fashion

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Identity is acquiring a new importance in fashion studies that goes beyond the sphere of personal consumption. The aestheticizing climate of postmodernity has justified consumer activity in the name of a flexible identity, while clothing has been confirmed as an aesthetic resource for self-presentation. Some young consumers – the so-called urban tribes – have made their mask a flag, creating peculiar ways of dressing during leisure time. For particular cultural minorities, a true political antagonism is at stake and the flag stands for a declaration of an open will to emancipate from the dominant culture.

Increasing consumers’ awareness of fashion-sustainability problems and their expectations towards the production system have led to the necessity of considering together the different actors in the fashion chain. In fact, the reflexive identities of late modernity are concerned dialectically with the construction of a social imaginary that does not exclusively pertain to consumers or producers; nor does it concern the mere aesthetic enrichment of the image, but rather the complex arena where meanings are built. In this same frame, a very recent variation of responsible fashion aims at reducing the distance between production and consumption in view of a sharing of practices, technologies and products. The ethical dimension of fashion widens to include values that transcend individual self-presentation to encompass images of collective identities and convivial communities.
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Keywords: consumption; ethical fashion; identity; self-presentation; sharing fashion; sustainability; urban tribes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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  • The International Journal of Fashion Studies is a scientific peer-reviewed journal that fosters the worldwide diffusion of Fashion Studies. Fashion Studies is an interdisciplinary field of research that has been producing an extensive repertoire of theories, analyses and enquiries.
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