Impact of Globalization on fashion: relationship between fashion and spaces or places
With globalization, world is changing and boundaries between countries and cultures are diminishing. Fashion has emerged as global phenomenon and this scenario has transformed the way people perceive fashion. In today’s world traditions and identity have new meaning and sense for consumers. On the other hand, businesses and governments are concerned and active for providing better products and services to the right consumers, at the right place and time. This essay explores and discusses some of the major impacts of globalization on fashion with respect to the transformation of spaces and places.
Perna (1987) defines fashion very aptly as ‘an expression of the times’. This broad explanation or generalized perception of fashion matches with the modern consumer society in which more or less all aspects of people’s lifestyles are considered to be a reflection of social status and success. This perception is especially applicable to the commodities (products and services) that are highly visible when consumed, for instance, cell phones, clubs or bars, cars and clothing (as cited in Hines & Bruce, 2001, p.123).Polhemis and Procter (1978) supported this by pointing out that the term fashion is mostly used as a synonym of adornment (as cited in Hines & Bruce, 2001, p.123).Fashion has had cultural, social and political implications in every era, but rapidly globalizing world multiplied its impact on everyday life and the world around everyone.
Globalization as a phenomenon is itself a consequence of competitive pressures that have led textile and clothing procedure towards and endless search of ways to lower production costs, firstly through efficiency measures, often internal to a single organization or network of organizations locked in a continuous supply chain. Secondly, the search for lower cost sources of supply shifts production and organizations controlling production to offshore locations throughout the globe, where conditions are more favourable than in the home market where the products will be sold and consumed. (Hines & Bruce, 2001, p.23)
Now the city life is experiencing a whole new era which is determined by economic activity. In nineteenth century life was divided between work, wages and leisure. Now spending money has become a leisurely activity itself. To meet the need of consumption, capitalist city invented the fantasy world of departmental and retail stores (Wilson, 2003, p.144).
With the changing economy, the need to become the largest amongst major retail groups seems to be predominant. The desire of being the largest cannot be satisfied in today’s saturated domestic market. This scenario demands to expand beyond limited geographical markets to international scale. It is crucial for survival to be the first and get the biggest market share (Hines & Bruce, 2001, p.23).
Effects of globalization can be tracked not only through economic changes but also through cultural and social shifts that has revolutionized communication and transportation infrastructures. Now, consumer behaviour is changing with converging markets. Consumer behaviours and attitudes are not simply changing on their own but in fact, more of the influence is induced by the professional purchasing and procurement officers hired by retailing groups (Hines & Bruce 2001, p.24).
Immigrants provide much of the material base for the new urban cultures generally called ‘fusion’. Sometimes they bring new ideas and forms that labour turns into products of cultural consumption which are then shaped by the market provided by the rest of the city’s population. (UN-Habitat,2004,p.42)
Hines and Bruce (2001) state, the phenomenon of globalization, conditions that give rise to it, and shape the structure, strategies and consequences are probably more transparently evident in the textile and clothing industries than in many other sectors. Markets from Manchester to Manchuria and supplies from Singapore to Sacramento are subject to the phenomenon of global forces and global shifts. (p.24)
A recent boom in shopping is not the reflection of economic development or consumers with extra leisurely time or money.It is escalating by planned actions of many stakeholders which include;retail store network,marketing experts,designers,advertising agencies,manufacturers and critics or reviewers.Government policies regarding wage and emphasis on multinational treaties or free-trade zone has also stimulated the shopping.Globalization has also affected and improved shopping experience by proliferation of credit card system.In today’s environment governments manage a balance between shopping and cultural and social objectives. Changing patterns of shopping stimulte the strategic expansion of brands as well.It is not merely an individualistic expression or collective skill as artist but they are associated with big designers or create value for companies and become a symbol of social status for those who buy them.Transformation of luxury goods into brands demands for more diverse ways of promotion which emerged as building consumption spaces.It is a customized way of targeting particular audience which proved to be a great promotional tool.It provides a symbolic economy in which everyone can buy their likings in a public space(UN-Habitat,2004,p.42-6). Hines and Bruce(2001) state,“These large retail groups have enormous purchasing power and are able to extract economies of scale from their operations and economies of scope from their existing and developing supply chains”(p.23).
The global intensification of shopping is also encouraged by governmental decisions to lower entry barriers to foreign-owned retail stores in some developing countries,bringing Western-style discount shopping to countries with much lower wages…Like the cultural districts that are built for performance and display,these new,mixed-use shopping development are spaces where residents of the city can perform the role of modern-or global-consumers and display their knowledge and wealth(see fig.1)…In Singapore,the government decided in 1996 that shopping presents the ultimate modern image that the city-state needed to project to multinational corporate investors.In China,shopping represents modernity,access to work markets and cultures.And shopping in the US,it has been observed,repersents a patriotic effort to support the economy…Multinational luxury goods corporations hire the same multinational architecture who design the mixed-use and cultural districts and are no less eagerly courted by city governments than the cultural districts.Indeed,in the major redevelopment of Potsdamer platz in the centre of Berlin,the reunification of East and West Germany rakes material form a shopping,office and entertainment centre.(UN-Habitat,2004,p.46)
In today’s globalized world, shopping is more of a socializing activity. Both adults and teenagers are eager to shop but young people are naturally more inclined towards it as it is a matter of their identity. It offers them to get into public circle without joining politics or unions. However, as it is not a traditional marketplace, it may clash with the local public sphere and their identity, for instance, jeans and music are recognized as symbols of youth globally but it may not match the local circle of influence (UN-Habitat,2004,p.46-7).
According to Chua youngsters in Singapore pick fashion trends from a globalized ‘image bank’. They get familiar with it through movies, TV and music videos. They often consume global fashion as a form of protest which points towards the rejection of local politics and traditional culture.However, in some cases such global spaces become part of the local culture as well. For instance, McDonald’s proved to be equally acceptable for young students,elderly men and even woman in China who preferred it over traditional Chinese restruants(UN-Habitat,2004,p.47).Fashion and new media in a globalized world are developing as clusters of interconnected firms that shape industrial districts.One of the four types of cultural districts is industrial cultural distict that offers design based products and services and media as its new form (UN-Habitat,2004,p.41).
The changing world particularly affected woman and their identity in recent times. Different aspects of fashion system aided to this redefining process. For instance, new clothing factories, departmental and retail stores, stylish promotion, magazines, illustrations and glamorous photography reshaped the lifestyle they are opting. Cinema and movie stars contributed to portray the image of a new woman. A specific group of such woman is focused who are important as consumers of clothing, popular forms of dace, art, cinema and music. Fashion is recognized as a significant symbol of women’s changing powers, be it political, social or economic. Fashion proved to be a medium of portraying not only images and identities but also as an expression of gender and class identity. Orwell explains that drive of consumption emerged from women with easily interpretable desires and thought patterns (Fawcett and Buckley, 2004, p.81-7)
…spectacle carried a special message to a female public, or at least a feminized public, of mass consumers. By this period, women’s visual pleasure was thought to be derived from their consumer desires. Such desires were in turn triggered by visually rich landscape viewed in particularly sensuous physical setting. In this conception of consumer psychology, as much as pure economic interest or personal relationships which created the partnership between, the fashion industry, and the theatre…The Warehousemen and Drapers’ Trade Journal, for example told its readers that it described actress’ dresses because “it frequently happens that a fashion makes its first appearance on the stage, and afterwards is adopted by the feminine public at large. (Rappaport, 2000, p.185)
Fashion is predominantly an expression of time and space it is breathing in. It has always been a vehicle of determining the implications of a certain era. It has not only influenced but also represented cultural, social and political scene of cities and civilizations. However, in modern world, meaning and impact of fashion is changing rapidly. In modern age of globalization, people have become citizens of a global village, world demographics are changed and so are the ways to reach consumer. New age media and economic demands have stimulated this process. Citizens of a globalized world choose fashion considering their interest, identity, class and consciousness instead of tradition and public sphere expectations.
Globalization is also changing lifestyles all over the world, be it the way to get dressed, eat, socialize, shop, produce or distribute. Fashion, being the ‘expression of times’ best expresses the trends of this transforming world. The concept of culture and identity are evolving into more diverse forms. With globalization the world has entered into a consumer and corporate world. Changing shopping habits and patterns are the result of economic activity as this is what that decides everything from cost of production to point of sales. Cities and spaces are evolving and becoming more dynamic in order to cater the demands of new consumer. Whatsoever are the factors stimulating this change, corporate world and government authorities world-wide are playing their part effectively in order to meet the needs of this rapidly globalizing consumer world.