Fashion: Its Relationship to Identity, Social Class, and Issues of Sustainability

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2009

Project Description/Abstract

Although some critics have dismissed fashion as superficial, the fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise with tremendous social influence. This study will look at fashion in relation to identity, social class, and issues of sustainability. Questions raised will include: How does fashion help create identity? In an affluent society in which sumptuary laws no longer exist and in which inexpensive clothes are plentiful, can dress still function as a marker of social status, and, if so, how? Since fashion by its very nature incorporates obsolescence, is there a way to be both fashionable and responsible to the environment? These questions will be explored through literary works that emphasize fashion and through ethnographic research in various types of shopping venues such as big box stores, mid range department stores, and high end or luxury department stores.

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