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Elitism, Accessibility and the Changing Fashion Media Space

An introduction to Elitism and Accessibility in Fashion.
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Elitism, Humour and Fashion Media

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By way of introduction, please read this article by Eugene Rabkin, founder of stylezeitgeist.com. He has also contributed articles on fashion and culture to The Business of Fashion, Vogue Russia, Buro247, etc. It describes his experiences with coming to understand the very elitist and gatekept nature of the fashion industry. He also touches on how this elitist nature necessarily relies on and reinforces the hierarchical structures of racism, sexism, classism, etc.

So, fashion has an elitism problem. This has no doubt very much ingrained into the fabric of the industry itself in a variety of ways. Fashion, like an industry under capitalism, is very much rooted in a broad array of systems of supremacy and different kinds of hierarchy that favour certain groups of people from the get-go. Supremacy and hierarchy selects who can purchase fashion, who can go to school for fashion, whose work is acknowledged by bigger fashion institutions, whose work is funded, who is given more opportunities, who works and where and for how much.

There are so many ways we can analyse how different types of hierarchy play into the fashion industry on every single level. For this section of the course, we are focusing on the world of fashion media specifically. That is, publications (print and digital), critics, events, and nowadays, social media platforms, from Instagram, to Twitter, TikTok and more.

So that begs the question; how does elitism play into the fashion media sphere? And, also, how is the media sphere changing? What’s new in fashion media, and, especially, how is humour playing a part in all of it?

For more on the issue of elitism and accessibility in fashion, you can listen to this episode of José’s podcast, Biased, titled ‘On Access, Luxury, Classism, and Elitism in Fashion with Samantha Haran’, featuring myself, on Spotify.

José is a Bolivian fashion designer and writer based in New York. He currently works full time as a designer at a New York heritage brand, is a brand consultant for emerging brands, and writes for publications including i-D and PAPER. In addition, José produces and hosts Biased, a podcast about fashion and culture, while also doing this same type of fashion commentary work on Instagram.

The podcast episode is also available as a Youtube video:

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

In your opinion, how can the fashion industry tackle its ongoing elitism problem and do you think social media has a role to play in challenging the many issues discussed so far?

Engage in the discussion with your peers in the comments down below.

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Digital Playground: Where Luxury Fashion is Finding its Sense of Humour

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