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Aspirational bodies: fashioning new beauty ideals

Brownbridge, KM and Sanderson, R and Gill, S (2016) Aspirational bodies: fashioning new beauty ideals. In: Beauty 4 Interdisciplinary.net.

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Abstract

Abstract Fashion appeals to the aspirational nature of people, often depicted by designers via elaborate and stylised illustrations. In contrast to these unrealistic tall, thin representations, women in the UK are getting larger. Despite a growing availability of equipment such as body scanners which give accurate body measurements, there is a lack of guidance in literature available to assist with how to proportion larger figures. Fashion design is the first process for garment construction and dictates the proportion of the garment. If, as the literature suggests, designers are using unrealistic body templates, the process is compromised, potentially leading to fit issues and dissatisfied customers, a situation that can have a negative impact on body image. This study focuses on the apparent gap between the depiction of the female body during the process of fashion design and the actual size and shape of real women. It seeks to find answers to whether fashion designers do generally persist in creating these stylised images of the body and why. This will be through scrutiny of their practice, the templates they use and soliciting information about their perceptions of the bodies of the women they are designing for. This study is preparation for case studies which will be conducted in the UK fashion industry to include semi structured interviews to assess how designers view new body templates developed to depict a variety of realistic body shapes found within a population of 3D scan data. In addition a critical review of the fashion drawings designers currently produce and observations of processes used during design development will be conducted. Critical factors that potentially prevent the adoption of a diverse range of body shapes will be identified and discussed.

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