1st Global Conference
Friday 25th September – Sunday 27th September 2009
Mansfield College, Oxford
in association with Models 1: Europe’s Leading Model Agency
Don’t Dress to Impress; the Dutch Fashion Mentality
Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands
Abstract In this paper I will elaborate on the characteristics of a Dutch fashion identity, and the role of (fashion) media in its construction. National identities are defined by a selection of memories, mythologies, traditions and rituals and a matching set of symbols, which give a sense of national belonging and identification. On a daily basis, this national identity is sustained through fashion. It is reproduced and commodified not only in branding philosophies and iconographies, but also in the textual and visual rhetoric of fashion magazines.
Until the 1960s, Dutch fashion designers obeyed fashion as dictated by their Parisian colleagues. The Dutch designers translated these fashions into slightly different clothes, which were thought to be more appropriate for the Dutch woman. The designers were seen as intermediaries, following on the one hand the directions of Paris, and on the other the Dutch ‘psychological and geographical climate’.2 When Dutch fashion magazines from the first half of the twentieth century describe these alterations, the keywords are ‘sober’, ‘functional’ and ‘rational’.
Identical characteristics are used by architects and industrial designers to describe the Dutch idea of good design. This is quite remarkable because, until the 1980s, designers and architects did not consider fashion design to be on par with their own trade and were, to say the least, reluctant about any comparisons.
Through a historical overview of these debates, I will show which characteristics of Dutch fashion have been selected by the fashion media and design elite. The debates will give insight into the construction of the national mentality towards fashion. I will substantiate the claim that the Dutch have a negative attitude towards ostentation, while they endorse characteristics such as soberness, functionality and rationality.
Creating Dutch Fashion Identities through Globalised Production Routines
Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands
This paper will focus on the changing role of production processes within the Dutch fashion and apparel industry. It explores the spatial and organisational distance between design and manufacturing practices, due to globalisation, which relates to shifting ideas of national fashion identities that are no longer necessarily bound to a geographical location.
In order to understand the way the Dutch fashion industry performs in today’s fast-changing, brand-minded, globalised market, the clock will be turned back to the sixties where the massive deindustrialisation and internationalisation of the industry started. The concept of organisational routines, derived from evolutionary economics, is put forward to explore change and practices as well as stability and structure in the organisation of production. Dutch fashion identity is not restricted to design, but resides in a distinctive production culture as well. Through the analysis of job vacancies in the Dutch specialist journal Texpress, preliminary research results indicate that on the representational level, practises concerning the organisation of production from 1967-1979 did not undergo significant changes apart from the physical relocation of manufacturing plants. In this period the foundations may have been laid for a more fashion-minded, design-led industry. These first observations function as a starting point for in-depth case studies involving noteworthy Dutch fashion firms.
The Construction of Identities through Designers and Consumers
Constantin-Felix von Maltzahn
This paper attempts to map an approach towards co-creation between fashion brands and their consumers. Fashion firms opting for such an approach will be able to better guarantee retention and long(er)-term buying relations by appeal to central value connections. Unlike various other branches, the fashion industry has remained largely untapped a field in this regard, mostly relying on traditional marketing means. Instead of push marketing and segmented targeting strategies co-creation means to integrate consumers into the value creation chain. Examples will be provided for how the process of co-creation can be successfully applied to various business sectors.
As will be argued, market performance in the fashion industry will become largely dependent on the knowledge base of affiliate consumers who strongly and passionately identify with the firm. As a result, marketers will be faced with a completely different set of challenges in order to position a brand in the market. The central task then becomes how to identify these groups, how to engage them in an efficient dialogue as well as how to capitalise on their knowledge and experience with a brand’s products.
In this paper I will argue that co-creation in the fashion business means to address consumers as individually and personally as possible. By means of sensory experiences which extend the scope of value exchange away from clothes to emotional appeal, individualised brand and product consumption experiences can be created. At the same time, creative consumer input serves swift and innovative product innovation in the market in that it helps to respond to changes in more immediate ways. By enumerating the defining criteria of this process in the context of the fashion industry this paper tries to broaden the scope of fashion marketing towards outlining an alternative approach for reclaiming consumer loyalty.