3rd Global Conference
Thursday 22nd September – Sunday 25th September 2011
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Picking up the Threads: Model Approach Helps Cambodia Design New Fashion Image
University of Georgia, USA
The Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia in 1975, and under the leadership of Pol Pot, unleashed a reign of terror that killed approximately a quarter of Cambodia’s population, destroyed the country’s infrastructure, crushed its education system and annihilated its intelligentsia. Amid these conditions, fashion production and consumption in Cambodia came to a halt.
Today, Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, debilitated by HIV/AIDS, child prostitution and violence against women, including forced prostitution. Because of the country’s adherence to traditional values and conservative gender roles, the majority of women do not get adequate education nor are they encouraged to find employment outside the home. This makes women and their children the most vulnerable in Cambodia. Recently, however, Western fashion producers have begun to employ this segment of the society in high numbers, although only for basic sewing jobs.
Urban youth in Cambodia is mostly influenced by South Korean street styles, while the rest of the population is barely plugged into the global fashion system. Because of the lack of capital, very few Cambodians are able to launch fashion businesses. However, there have been some positive developments. This case study, based on extensive participant observation and interviews carried out in Cambodia, introduces an environmentally sound, socially conscious and sustainable fashion project launched by the Mekong Blue NGO. The program teaches poverty-stricken rural women sewing and advanced weaving and dyeing skills as well as the basics of fashion design and entrepreneurship, which has helped significantly to save their lives. The women’s high quality fashion products are modern, but carry the imprint of traditional styles, colors and patterns. The Mekong Blue approach represents Cambodians’ first steps in making their mark on the international fashion arena and represents a model that can be implemented in other locations as well.
Knock-On from the Knock-Off: Recent Shifts within Australian Mass Market Fashion Design
School of Fashion, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Australia, Brisbane, Australia
Australia’s mass market fashion labels have traditionally benefitted from their peripheral location to the world’s fashion centres. Operating a season behind, Australian mass market designers and buyers were well-placed to watch trends play out overseas before testing them in the Australian marketplace. For this reason, often a designer’s role was to source and oversee the manufacture of ‘knock-offs’, or close copies of Northern hemisphere mass market garments. Both Weller (2007) and Walsh (2009) have commented on this practice. The knock-on effect from this continues to be a cautious, derivative fashion sensibility within Australian mass market fashion design, where any new trend or product is first tested and proved overseas months earlier. However, there is evidence that this is changing. The rapid online dissemination of global fashion trends, coupled with the Australian consumer’s willingness to shop online, has meant that the ‘knock-off’ is less viable. For this reason, a number of mass market companies are moving away from the practice of direct sourcing and are developing product in-house under a Northern hemisphere model. This shift is also witnessed in the trend for mass market companies to develop collections in partnership with independent Australian designers. This paper explores the current and potential effects of these shifts within Australian mass market design practice, and discusses how they may impact on designers, consumers and on the wider culture of Australian fashion.
Wishing on a star –Promoting and Personifying Designer Collections and Fashion Brands in Hong Kong and China
Department of English, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
This paper examines two fashion brands, Daydream Nation by Kay and Jing Wong in Hong Kong and Rose Studio by Guo Pei in Beijing, China. Based on in-depth interviews with the three designers, it will contrast the way they promote their fashion brands as global commodities and how they compete in their respective markets using “star” designer strategies implementing a range of promotional strategies in these two fashion cities. Fashion designers critically rely on publicity and media recognition as cultural capital in order to ensure survival in highly competitive domain. To this end, the ratification of designer genius is visibly played out in globalized urban spaces, on the catwalks of fashion shows, in fashion editorials, advertising campaigns, blogs, apps and websites and the rarified arena of the elite high-end fashion store or atelier. As the fashion system is increasingly image-driven, designers are personified, individualized and aestheticized, whilst also branded with a hint of unique local flavour by the cultural and political intermediaries whose job it is to align and position them affectively across a range of media within a consumer niche of shared aspirations and lifestyles. This legitimating practice, although seemingly critical to the survival and success of the individual designer as “star” in the global cultural marketplace, underlines the latent contradictions of the fashion system whereby the cult of personality and celebrity designer label deliberately obscure the significant collaborative effort underpinning the cultural production and promotion of branded garments. Equally, the celebration of the individual cultural producer is used to signify national pride and achievement through “glocal” identities in fostering trade relations between and beyond the geographic entities in which the designers promote their brands and whose own national and cultural identities are often contested in the process. The contrasting brand stories of Daydream Nation and Rose Studio will explore the contradictions and challenges facing an emerging fashion brand in China.
‘Everyone Deserves to Dress Well’: Democratization of Fashion in Turkey and the Case of LC Waikiki
Ayşe Nil Kireçci
Maltepe University Communication Faculty, Turkey
Global brands weaving mass and exclusive strategies together like Zara, Mango and H&M are expanding latest fashion trends to include the middle and lower-middle classes. They claim to be “democratizing” fashion by lowering the entering barriers of what it means to be fashionable. Their fast fashion business model, high fashion and lower pricing policies, provide a better understanding of both fashion trends and consumers. They are spreading their fashion worldwide as a global strategy and threatening local retailers. Turkey has gained the attention of these global retailers because of new development policies which are reflected in increased purchasing power and in the adoption of Western consumer culture. Global middle-market fashion brands are correspondingly successful in the big cities of Turkey, but in spite of their large presence in fashion magazines and high brand awareness and reputation in specific consumer groups, these brands do not seem to have succeeded with the average consumers in Turkey.
Lc Waikiki, a widespread fashion retail chain in Turkey, adopts similar strategy in global middle-market brands explaining their success that has led them to opening 114 stores only in the previous two years as their better understanding of the Turkish consumer; “the secret is to understand the Anatolian consumer”. Success of Lc Waikiki makes it meaningful to discuss fashion in terms of global-local complexity in general and in its sociocultural context in Turkey, in particular. In this paper, Lc Waikiki will be discussed in the context of its similarities and differences with its global competitors; middle-market retailers who are running business in Turkey. The company’s strategies and remarks are important to providing insights about fashion and consumer profile in Turkey. Information about the company and its strategies will be obtained through a literature (archive) review of Turkish magazines and newspapers, media releases, advertisements and official website and these will be supported by interviews with store managers.