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Imitation in fashion: Further reflections on the work of Thorstein Veblen and Georg Simmel

Wild, Benjamin (2016) Imitation in fashion: Further reflections on the work of Thorstein Veblen and Georg Simmel. Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, 3 (3). pp. 281-294. ISSN 2050-0726

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Abstract

Imitation continues to play a significant role within the fashion industry, but not in the way that Thorstein Veblen and Georg Simmel, who wrote over 100 years ago, suggest. Increased inequality in incomes, the adoption of an ethics of labour over leisure, and the creation of celebrities within the music and movie industries, who appear proximate to a broad demographic of consumers, means the social elite are no longer the predominant trendsetters and exemplars of sartorial tastes. More fundamentally, globalization has reduced interpersonal connections and increased feelings of isolation within many individuals. Correlatively, periods of the past, which appear to offer security, stability and status, have become an increasingly important source of sartorial – and cultural – imitation, as evidenced by the growing popularity of retro and vintage clothing styles. An awareness of the role played by heritage and history in the consumption of fashion is therefore important for researchers in academia and industry.

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