Fashion Month: Forging Identities

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Longtime New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham doing his thing at the Carnegie Hall season opener gala. (Kim Nowacki/WQXR)

Hazel Clark, a professor in the MA Fashion Studies Program and research chair of Fashion at Parsons The New School for Design and the co-author of The Fabric of Cultures: Fashion, Identity, and Globalization, continues the February series on New York's place in the global fashion picture. This week: Fashion forging personal and national identities.

Give us a reading of your "clothing identity." What are your clothes saying about who you are? How do they define your personal or group identity?




Hazel Clark
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Comments [8]

Asanti' from Manhattan

I tend to think of it like this, remembering this passage from Michael Brake's Comparative Youth Culture: The Sociology of Youth Cultures and Youth Subcultures in America, Britain and Canada, where he quotes Carter(1967)- "The nature of our apparel is very complex, clothes are so many things at once. Our social shells, the system of signals with which we broadcast our intentions, are often the projection of our fantasy
selves...clothes are our weapons our challenges, our visible insults"

Feb. 21 2013 03:37 PM

So called "Orthodox" religious groups from many religious and sects are using clothes in much the same way as the rest of society -- the Satmar's fur hat, for example, demonstrates his social standing (those dogz iz zpensive!), his his place of birth and his sect.

Anybody who knows Muslim women of means knows that their hijabs are major fashion statements -- possessions reflecting taste, style, values and plenty of shopping.

We are talking religion, it's true. But there are plenty of Lubavitch dudes out there who would not dream of wearing anything but a well-fitting wool suit, even though we just see some faceless guy in black, or possibly even just a pair of eyes in a crowd of black clothes. The difference is they are not trying to fit in popular culture, but their own.

Feb. 21 2013 11:48 AM
SP from Manhattan

From my teens on I enjoyed "fashion", subscribed to Vogue, loved to browse clothing stores. But from the get go, as a borderline plus size, I realized that I was excluded from being able to dress the way I wanted because stores simply don't stock all clothes in all sizes. Fast forward to age 50, little has changed. What was "fashion" has simply become "clothing" because the deciding factor when I buy an item of clothing is not "is it me, is it fashionable, do I like it?" but "does it fit, do I get any other choices, how bad does it look?" As a consumer this is really frustrating, to have the buying power, but not be able to buy! Size 12 feet--same story! My clothing does not reflect anything about me--it is a reflection of what clothing manufacturers have decided--that over a certain size, you are excluded from fashion.

Feb. 21 2013 11:43 AM
tom from astoria

Fashionistas always want to call themselves artists -- the best artists don't like be called 'fashionable'. For many productive/creative people DOING not appearances dominates; i.e., EINSTEIN had other things on his mind.

Feb. 21 2013 11:43 AM
Susan from Rockaway Beach

I work on the upper east side; someone pointed out to me that the way some of the wealthiest women there mark this with their clothing is by wearing ballet flats without socks in the dead of winter whether or not there is deep snow, slush, sub-zero temps. She said that this indicates that your feet barely need to tough the ground because you can afford a taxi to go everywhere or you have a limo. Your feet barely have to tough the ground. I've been watching-she may be right.

Feb. 21 2013 11:39 AM
Linda from East Village

I wear a lot of vintage clothing, because I love the designs and their intricacies (zippers ... snaps ... darts), the often lush fabrics, and the reminders of the past. Then I pair these clothes with very contemporary shoes. No point in looking like you're going to a costume ball. The idea is to mix it up.

I also find recognizable designer fashion somehow suspect.

Feb. 21 2013 11:36 AM

I hope that Tekserve pays WNYC at least $400,000 in advertising fees for this $4,000 contest. Can anyone who offers a $4,000 raffle get so much on air attention?

Feb. 21 2013 11:25 AM
oscar from ny

I look poor but i try..but if I come up with good money ill be a fashion god...

Feb. 21 2013 09:23 AM

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