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LEARNING DIARY 23E58050 Consumer Behavior and Retail Experience Management in Fashion and Design Business Dyasanti Vidya

Saputri # 413781
Its amazing how far this course has shifted my perception about the fashion world. Before this course I was never particularly interested in fashion-related mattersbe it fashion editorials or clothingbut now that I have learned about the different aspects of fashion, I realized that the concepts pertaining to the fashion world could also be implemented in a much broader context. It would only be appropriate for me to reflect on the lecture materials by applying the abstract theories to real-life situations, and thus in this learning diary I will mostly address cases from my country Indonesia and the fashion system that I think is prevalent in our culture. If not, I will try to take examples from relevant situations Ive been in or articles Ive come across. Fashion as a Sign System and Language: Despite my hard time grasping Ronald Barthes take on fashion system (in fact, Im still in the process of fully understanding it) as well as Blumers definition of fashion theory, this topic was eye-opening as it enabled me to see how fashion isnt always about clothing and accessories. What struck me the most was the complicated nature of fashion itself. Starting off with examples from my own country; Blumers (1969) concept of collective taste prevails amongst Indonesian youth by their seemingly communal way of dressing. In 2008, it was asymmetrical haircuts. In 2011, it was feminine translucent chiffon blouses that sway side-to-side when you walk. In 2012, the boys began to dress drapperly with their crisp, patterned button-downs and their mustard washed denim trousers. Mind that I observed this as part of the so-called youth, therefore I experienced it first-hand. As I too felt the need to move in the direction everyone else was going, a !

realization dawned upon meeverybody was doing it for the sake of acknowledgment. They were all seeking for that sought-after confirmation of their existence in the community. Copying each others way of dressing oneself was, indeed, one of the easiest things to do to be accepted into a social circle. Needless to say, Blumers theory of the acting crowd is pertinent to many aspects of todays social issues. The five stages, 1. Tension or unrest 2. Exciting event 3. Milling 4. A common object of attention 5. Common impulses are common features one can find in perhaps every single social movement, including fashion. Fashion as a Power Structure: Referring to Bourdieus idea of social capital and his system of habitus, capital and fieldI think its safe to say that in Indonesia, we still have this massive wall dividing the different social classes. As an exchange student here in Finland, Ive been very impressed by how the country is run based on equality, diminishing the gap between each social class as much as possible. Its an entirely different case back in my country. Interestingly, this class difference is highlighted through fashionamongst other things, of course. One of the many cases for Indonesian youth correlates nicely with what Sundie et al. (2011) suggests, Men might use costly products to display their wealth to potential mates. The current trend amongst Indonesian young men is to join the hipster movement (clean shave, smart-casual clothing, possible futile addition of a beanie/cardigan) by purchasing and wearing expensive local handmade products. Fig. 1 and 2 are examples taken from two local Indonesian products whose target segment includes said young men. !

Fig. 1 and 2. A picture from Hooghan IDs lookbook (on the left). A picture from AYE! Denims lookbook (on the right).

Another article that was also brought up on the subject of power structure was written by Perez et al. (2010) that discusses an issue mainly found in developing countries; the consumption of counterfeit luxury goods. The case in Indonesia is not very much differentyou will find shops that are dedicated to counterfeit goods everywhere you go. It reaches to a point where none can no longer tell which ones legitimate and which ones fake. My mother, being one of those women who actually make an effort to purchase the authentic goods, would, in fact, think twice about walking out of the house with a branded bag. The consensus is that those with authentic goods would most likely group together, and those who pride themselves in being able to find eerily similar counterfeit goods belong to a whole different social circle. When the two clash, they probably couldnt care less, as long as their closest friends in the group know which one it is theyve got. Fashion as a Retail Experience: When discussing fashion as a retail experience in class, I was reminded by an article on Harvard Business Review (September 2013) I once read, Touchpoints matter, but its the full journey that really counts. The idea is to ensure that customers do not feel like theyve lost connection with the brand in the middle of his/her purchasing journey. If done well, customer journeys can deliver an unquestionable competitive advantage over competitors. !

In Indonesia, theres an increasingly popular phenomenon that is Instagram online shops, which is pretty much self-explanatoryInstagram accounts are used as a catalogue, lookbook, and method of order at the same time. These people are often resellers of imported clothes from Bangkok or Hong Kong that might have else ended up at a factory outlet. But never doubt the power of low pricesthese shops, although at a disadvantage in terms of physical store elements, are still able to generate profits and secure loyal customers.

Fig. 3 and 4. Screenshots taken from two Indonesian online Instagram shops, @iymelsayshijab (on the left) and @girlshoooop (on the right).

Even though one might deem it impossible to gain a customer base simply through the use of one single social media platform, these shops have proved him wrong. Regardless of their limited resources, these shops have If we were to break down dissect these Instagram shops according to the Online Customer Experience framework provided by Gentile et al. (2007), it would be as follows: Sensorial: Pictures of the garments are used to stimulate sight. Most shops almost always include brief information about the material of the clothing to give potential customers a better sense of the fabric. Emotional: There isnt any significant emotional experience generated by these shops. Their focus is short-termas long as the items are sold, theyll be satisfied. !

Cognitive: The obvious mental process is that if the price is inside a certain range, most of the time the customer wouldnt even think twice about purchasing itthese shops tend to sell garments at a fairly low price. Pragmatic: The concept of usability is helped through celebrity endorsements. These endorsements arent what you may be used to seeingall they need to do is to ship the garments to singer A and then wait until said singer posts a picture of herself in the garment on her social media account (primarily Instagram), while at the same time promoting the shop by including captions such as, Thank you for the dress, @XXshop! Lifestyle: Not quite present. The majority of these shops does not care about long-term branding and thus very rarely tries to show how their items will reaffirm ones beliefs and values. Relational: There is an occasional attempt at the creation of communities by posting testimonials from previous customers as Instagram posts (hence why the feed often looks messy due to lack of organization and prior planning).

Fashion as a Movement: Describing fashion as a movement may be well translated into creating a whole new consumer phenomenon in which fashion plays a big part. For example, McQuarrie (2013) suggests that the online platform is changing todays consumer behavior in a way that ordinary consumers todayordinary consumers refer to consumers outside of the existing fashion system (McCracken 1986)are able to grab hold of the megaphone. The Internet allows ongoing communication by ordinary consumers to a mass of strangers, and consumers such as fashion bloggers use this opportunity to its full potential. Fashion bloggers share user-generated content and end up acquiring a mass audience for these posts, allowing them to slowly climb up the taste leadership (Gronow 1997) ladder. I thought this article was relevant to the subject of employing fashion as a movement from the way it discusses the

possibility of turning an ordinary consumer into a leader inside the fashion system. In unrelated news, Ive seen firsthand the possession rituals activities discussed by Campbell (2005) and I thought Id share it here. In my second year of college, I was involved in a project where we produced products of our own with the intention of selling them to generate a certain amount of revenue. One of our products was a notebook wrapped in cork fabric, and customers could opt for a personalized notebook which meant that they were able to request for a specific drawing to be engraved on the front cover referring to Campbell (2005), personalizing means produced products are marked, either by the retailer or the individual consumer, so as to indicate that they are the singular possession of a specific individual. These notebooks sold very well compared to our other products that couldnt be personalized. This goes to show how personalization is very often sought out. Fashion and Reproduction of Gender: Out of all the lecture materials I must admit that this sub-topic was the one I was most interested in. The medias representation of women is a continuously debatable topic, with fresh content being reported each day. One case I personally deem memorable is Doves Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign that went viral on YouTube with more than 60 million views. I remember coming across an article that fully opposes this campaign by mentioning how in retrospect, instead of making women realize just how beautiful they are, its indirectly emphasizing the notion of none other than exterior beauty itselfyour face is what your degree of beauty is being decided upon. Its amusing how even the most seemingly sincere campaigns can spark controversy. In regard to the talk of beauty, women are relentlessly being bombarded with the concept of flawlessness, whats with all those Photoshopped false advertisings and whatnot. Consequently, this creates an environment where men are given the power to suppress women with these ideals, seeing that !

men arent the ones being told to trim down their waist or lift their bust. Who then suffers? The female individuals who fall into this trap thinking that they need to conform to such standards. That being said, women high in the fashion system hierarchy are almost like aforementioned menfashion system being the designers and manufacturers of fashion clothing and accessories, the media institutions that promote such clothing in editorials and advertising, and the social elite who engage in the vast public relations machine (McCracken 1986). These women have the cultural and social capital and thus, the authority to construct certain ideals for lower women to abide by. Examples include female editors of high-fashion magazines who literally handpick the styles that are to be featured each month for the rest of the female population to follow. The question is: if women still do this to one another, are we really in the position of wishing the menthe mediawould stop? Debates arise as women continue to be objectified by mass mediatheir bodies turned into things, denoting the absence of soul. Alex Blimes, the Editor of one of the most acclaimed magazines, Esquire UK, even admitted so himself, The women we feature in in the magazine are ornamental, to which he added, We provide pictures of girls in the same way we provide pictures of cool cars. It is ornamental, (The Guardian, 2013). Literal examples of objectification of women can be taken from many existing ads. Michelob Beer uses the idea of recreating a beer bottle with a womans bodyimplying that women are disposable, as are glass bottles (Fig. 5). Likewise, Che Mens Magazine connects a womans body to a game consolemost likely to be suggesting that women are to be played around (Fig. 6). This kind of ads dehumanizes women, which is, sadly, the first step towards devaluation.

Fig. 5 and 6. Michelob beer ad (on the left), Che Mens Magazine ad (on the right).

No wonder today we have moral degradation issues such as the culture of plastic surgery in South Korea, where one in five women from 19 to 49 years has undergone some sort of cosmetic surgery. The constant pressure of having to be able to present oneself beautifully, along with the omnipresent propaganda (Fig. 7 shows a plastic surgery ad thats been put at a Subway station somewhere in Seoul), has pushed these womens level of selfconfidence to the point where they decide itd be best to go under the knife to settle everything once and for all.

Fig. 7. A South Korean subway ad on plastic surgery.

Looking back at the points I mentioned above regarding reproduction of gender in fashion, it comes as no surprise to us why feminist movements and campaigns are becoming more widespread than ever. Thanks to the burden being put on women by various advertisements and media alike, major problems such as eating disorders, gender inequality at work, and sexual abuse have long begun to surface. I will not go in depth regarding the issue, but come to think of itwomens rights movements date back to the late 19th century when the Suffragettes shook a greater part of the world by using violence to get what they wanted, which was the right to vote. Its both funny and sad that even with all this history, a great deal of representations of women today still linger on the demand for us to be beautifulon the outside that iswhile blatantly disregarding a womans professional, critical side. Its unfortunate that the media opts to continue to uphold these dehumanizing ideals for women, while considering all the power it holds in a community along with the large-scale media consumption that follows, essentially, they should be used to advocate whats right and equaland in this case, its definitely not the objectification of women. As actress Jennifer Lawrence so aptly put it in an interview, [...] With these unrealistic expectations for women, its disappointing that the media keeps it alive and fuels that fire, (Yahoo!Screen, 2013). In the end, I think we can all agree that fashionamidst its ever-growing popularity and relevance in todays societyis still not to be glorified as a cornerstone of moral judgment. As far as Im concerned, fashion is to be treated as a form of entertainment or hobby, a field of interest that can be shared to form interpersonal ties or even spark arguments instead of being used to alienate certain body types and face shapes. As part of an educated society, we should all know better than to regard biased portrayals of perfection as the true definition of beauty.

References:
Blumer, H., 1969. Fashion: From Class Differentiation to Collective Selection. Barthes, R., 1983. The Fashion System. California: University of California Press. Bourdieu, P., 1980, The Logic of Practice, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Sundie et al., 2011. Peacocks, Porsches, and Thorstein Veblen: Conspicuous Consumption as a Sexual Signaling System. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology [online], Vol. 100, No. 4, 664680 Perez, M.E., Castano, R. and Claudia Quintanilla, C., 2010. Constructing Identity Through the Consumption of Counterfeit Luxury Goods. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal [online], Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 219-235 Rawson, A., Duncan, E. and Jones, C., 2013. The Truth About Customer Experience. Harvard Business Review, 2013, pp. 90. Edward F. McQuarrie, Jessica Miller, and Barbara J. Phillips, 2013. The Megaphone Effect: Taste and Audience in Fashion Blogging. Journal of Consumer Research [online], Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 136-158 Campbell, C., 2005. The Craft Consumer: Culture, Craft, and Consumption in the Post-modern Society. Journal of Consumer Culture [online], Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 23-42. Dove United States, 2013. Dove Real Beauty Sketches [video, online]. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xpa OjMXyJGk [Accessed on December 6 2013]. Ahmed, M., 2013. What K-Pop Has to Do With South Korea's Plastic Surgery Obsession [online]. Jezebel. Available from: http://jezebel.com/what-k-pophas-to-do-with-south-koreas-plasticsurgery-573424674 [Accessed on 6 December 2013]. Lee, H., 2013. Perfecting the Face-Lift, Gangnam Style [online]. Bloomberg Businessweek. Available from: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/ 2013-10-10/plastic-surgery-lifts-southkorean-tourism [Accessed on 6 December 2013]. Sweney, M., 2013. Esquire editor: We show 'ornamental' women in same way as cars [online]. The Guardian. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/media/20 13/mar/19/esquire-editor-showwomen-like-cars [Accessed on 6 December 2013]. Media Education Foundation, 2012. Killing Us Softly 4 - Trailer [Featuring Jean Kilbourne] [video, online] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWK Xit_3rpQ#t=121 [Accessed on 6 December 2013]. Yahoo!Screen, 2013. Jennifer Lawrence's Heartfelt Commentary on Body Image: 'Stop Calling Each Other Fat' [video, online]. Available from: http://screen.yahoo.com/jenniferlawrences-heartfelt-commentary-body234610417.html [Accessed on 6 December 2013].