Tag Archives: fashion

(Blog Post #4) Fashion in Brooklyn


My boyfriend’s father, who has lived in Williamsburg his entire life, told me that his childhood neighborhood was not always like this. Oh yeah. Once upon a time, Williamsburg was not the hip, trendy area that we know today. In recent years, the neighborhood has become gentrified. It is now largely inhabited by young, working professionals and people that are categorized as “hipsters.” The overwhelming presence of this subculture has strongly influenced the local merchants. Many restaurants in the area offer vegan options, gluten-free products, organic produce, and all that type of junk that you’d normally find at Whole Foods. Eating healthy is what’s in, even though I’ll never quite understand the hype behind those juice cleanses. (I have all my teeth. I don’t need to drink my vegetables.) These people have not only changed the demographic of the area, but they’ve also changed the entire lifestyle. With easy access to restaurants, bars, and public transportation, almost nobody drives, but be warned: If you choose to drive into Williamsburg, watch out for bicyclists! I swear, it seems like everybody and their mother rides their bike! Cold weather, warm weather –  it doesn’t matter, man. On the plus side, there are less gas emissions, and I’m all about saving good ‘ol Mother Earth.

As Simmel describes in “Fashion” (1904), living in a city such as Williamsburg promotes a certain lifestyle. Simmel states, “Since modern individuals tend to be detached from traditional anchors of social support, fashion allows the individual to signal or express their own personality or personal values.”Besides the food, another significant aspect is… well, fashion itself. I’ll be honest, a hot pink Juicy Couture tracksuit wouldn’t necessarily be considered as popular fashion in the ‘Burg. (No offense to the women who wear them. I bet those are really comfortable. You keep wearing what you love, honey.) I’ve come to understand that a Williamsburg woman’s idea of a stylish outfit isn’t necessarily something new, but something borrowed. No, I’m not describing one of those corny wedding traditions. I’m talking about Macklemore status: thrift shopping. It’s all about finding that diamond in the rough at a flea market, making it your own, and therefore making it new again (although there’s still a good chance it could have emerged from the mothball-ridden closet of its previous owner). When I go to visit Williamsburg, I think to myself, “Is this cool enough to wear?” It’s as if there’s this unspoken contest; everyone’s trying to “out-cool” each other, without being too obvious about it. So if I care too much about how I look, would that be too mainstream?

The more time I spend in Williamsburg, the more I realize that the city itself is kinda like a repurposed granny sweater.

(Hear me out. I’m getting to the point.)

Much like the inhabitants seek to find that diamond in the rough; that one of a kind piece at the thrift store, it appears that their neighborhood has also become a product of their fashion and refurbishing. These hipsters have brought new life into this neighborhood and made it their own. So, perhaps I’ll be able to tolerate their curiously perfect knobbed mustaches, and their rampant bicycles. They have cultivated a beautiful neighborhood that, in my opinion will stand the test of time and fashion.


Blog Post #4: Simmel: City Dwellers, Socialbility, and Fashion

Georg Simmel studied the differences in the mental life between city dwellers and people in rural areas. He noted that in cities people had more freedom to express individuality but at the same time more challenged to find out their true selves among the metropolitan life. Simmel observed that in rural areas people formed impressions of people gradually, whereas in the city impressions were made with a single glance. Simmel contributed the harsh and sometimes rude demeanor of city dwellers as a blasé attitude. This attitude is more of a defense mechanism rather than an intentional rude attitude. He explained that the metropolitan life is constantly throwing stimuli at its inhabitants and can be too overwhelming to take in. Therefore people learn to block out things, which may come across as rude or unfriendly to outsiders. Simmel also developed theories on fashion and sociability in relation to cities. Simmel’s work is especially interesting to me because I grew up in the south and attended my first year of college in a small rural town. I know firsthand the observations and differences that Simmel proposes in his work and can confirm them to be very true. Growing up in Kentucky, I felt the pressure to conform to certain fashion trends and fit in with whatever was “mainstream” at the time. One of the biggest appeals to me about living in NYC is that here you are encouraged to find your own identity whereas in the south you are forced to conform to one group or style. Fashion develops in cities for that very reason. The city intensifies a multiplicity of social relations and at such a fast pace. The vast diversity in a city breeds the innovation and recycling of the past as Simmel would say. Another area Georg Simmel studied was sociability which he defines as the play-form of association driven by amicability, breeding cordiality and attractiveness of all kinds. In other words, sociability is interaction with others simply for the pleasure of interacting itself. There are no ulterior or underlying motives in the connection. From my own observation, pure sociability happens a lot less in cities than in rural areas. It seems that people in cities are used to everyone having some sort of hidden selfish motive so they are much more guarded and defensive in their sociability. This guarded attitude could contribute to the blasé attitude. The lack of pure sociability may also be because the fast pace of the city doesn’t allot much time for it, whereas the slower pace of rural life does. Simmel’s ideas about the mental life of city and rural people are very relatable and interesting to me.

Blog #4 Simmel and Fashion

I for one, am not into fashion, but as I say this I am clearly somewhere on the fashion spectrum as it is impossible to remove yourself from it.  Simmel believed that those who didn’t follow fashion were still a part of fashion since it is a dichotomy and requires those who are to be considered the inverse of fashion followers.  This aspect of social life has two extremes, Imitation and Distinction.  Imitation is the style or trend that most people aim for.  According to Simmel, someone from the upper class will for lack of a better word, lead the general population.  It is conformity, to be like a certain “role model” in appearance, it’s widespread acceptance.  On the other side of the spectrum is Distinction, to be eccentric or apart from the crowd.  Only a few prefer this unique side.

Fashion is dynamic, always changing.  A unique style can become “popularized” and shift from Distinction to Imitation.  This process can also go the other way, from Imitation to Distinction.  To depict this we can look at an example from the past.  At one time, bell bottom jeans were “trendy”.  People conformed to this style and then after however many years it dissipated so if you were to wear them you would be seen as being eccentric.  As we saw in the video in class, fashion is not limited to just clothing, but also include things like hair style, tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery and etc.

Blog # 11: Simmel “Sociability, Stranger, Fashion, the Metropolis and Mental Life”

Sociability is very interesting in a sense that we as people in a modern world want to engage and interact with other people for the sake of connection. He states that our sociable conversation (talking) is the end in itself. An example of conversations being the end in itself is talking to classmates in your class or co-workers at work because you do not want to be socially awkward. In addition, there is other kind of sociability that epitomizes both things that everyone tries to do when they are interested in someone: flirting (coquetry). Flirtation is an erotic form of play “which finds in sociability it’s lightest, most playful, and yet its widest realization” (Edles & Appelrouth, 299). The female that is doing the flirting is trying to deny and consent hints together to draw the man on without letting matters come to a decision “to rebuff him without making him lose all hope” (Ibid, 299).  At the end the female decided to continue flirting or to stop all interaction with the man and ended. It is very true today that men and women do all these types of things to get what they want like (I do not know if it is a good example but) in bars there are women who hang in there to find a good man to be with but they do not seek what they are looking for.

“The stranger” that Simmel describe as “remote” or “indistinct” because there are some qualities that we share are general but that is the extent of the relationship. By saying the extent of the relationship is because there are things that we share such as, nationality, gender or race. Also this means that the stranger is not seen as a person (individual) but a as a person with particular characteristics that makes him different (similar to the type of person is). In addition the stranger is able to perform duties that the groups are unable to because they are “unfit”. The stranger is somewhat part of the group but in the outside the stranger has brought a positive contribution that is depended by the group. One example that Simmel mentioned was the European Jews and the traders.

Simmel ideas of fashion are the expression of individualism and make one distinctive of others. He mentioned that the individual will wear clothing that is trending and they are just following the latest fashion. Also, fashion cannot be vogue as Simmel mentioned because people adopt to fashion that is in and if you just want it to be vogue is to not allow general population do not adopt them. I think that it is interesting that some fashions that are in become to ‘last season’ (which Simmel mentioned that it goes dead). Fashion is another type of distinction class because the high class would have the up to date fashion and the lower class, which does not have enough money to pay for fashionable clothing. Fashion is indistinctive in different classes in society and another way to separate people by classes. In modern society there are people (it does not matter what classes you are in) who seeks fashionable items that is trending and they will go to affordable outlets or store to get that. (In my personal sense of fashion, I just wear what I like and would be ok with what body style I have.)

The Metropolis and mental life is the views on money and the psychological effects on individual level and other relationships. I think that in a fast past city as New York we try to gain the best job to gain the life we are able relax and have free time. Living in a metropolis world we have to live with everything that we do daily. We as people invest in all happenings and encounters that make up our own life. One thing that is important is that money is something is that is already standard in our daily life or our satisfaction of what we get from how much we have. The more money we have the more of how we are able to express ourselves and more relationships come about through money (which in doubt to me it is not a real relationship because people are just want to be with you for money). As what I can see from the reading Simmel wanted to show us the reader that in a metropolis society we are corrupt people in the level of individual and human spirit. In modern world and even in society in history do not like to communicate with people who are not good enough for people for high status (such as lower class or beggar class). I know that money represent in power but sometimes that money (if it has power) could help people who are struggling to live normal as possible. I think that people with money should help people in need and what I think Simmel was trying to say in my own words is that money corrupts the people because they strive for high position in society and stomp anyone that gets in away and form relationship with people to get connections. 

Simmel, Hipsters, A$AP, & Gaga: Modern Questions for Georg’s Fashion

Blog 5


Georg Simmel’s conception of “fashion” and the fascinating way that he describes its dual ability to allow individuals to express their identity, while at the same time reaffirming their position within a group via conformity, has gotten me to think about examples of what we consider “fashion,” and has left me with many questions.

Simmel makes it clear that fashion is driven by class relations, and that it is used, predominantly by the upper middle class to distinguish themselves from the lower classes who seek upwards mobility. Whether the example of fashion in question is a mode of dress, a specific technological gadget, or the use of table manners, its popularity is soon made known. Adoption by the masses subsequently follows, as does the designation of “out of style.” So on and so forth goes the endless cycle of fashion, a pattern that not only brings certain items into and then out of the cultural spotlight (i.e. snapback hates circa 1990s), but also ensures that said items will regain social cache once again (snapbacks now) before fading into irrelevance. Writing in the early 1900s, it is no surprise that Simmel does not fully capture the realities of modern life. As discussed in class, his explanation of fashion’s manifestations does not describe the phenomenon that occurs when the styles of lower classes influence mainstream culture. The impacts of “alternative fashions” such as “hipster fashion” and the trendy urban street wear that have become pervasive do not fit neatly into Simmel’s fashion cycle.


How would he categorize these fashions? Would he call them fashion at all? Does “fashion” necessitate a cycle that flows from top downwards class wise, or is fashion’s cyclical nature of rare eccentricity-wide spread conformity its most salient quality? If the latter is the case, then the existence of stores like Urban Outfitters, retailers who true “hipsters” would deem as corporate impostors that have co-opted their looks to make profit, would signal that this style is becoming “out of vogue” in the sense that it is mainstream. Brands like Obey and Stussy would thus be on their way “out of fashion.”

A similar wrinkle and difference in modern times is the size of our middle class. Although evidence now points to the shrinking of the middle class, most people in America would still identify themselves as being members. With a larger and more stratified middle class, who is responsible for the role of “early style adopters?”

Kanye West, Jay Z

One thing I’ve recently noticed is the influence that celebrities have on the way we dress and the shaping of our tastes. Rap artists like A$AP Rocky and his Mob have introduced many brands to the public, and without Kanye or Jay Z many would not know what an Audemar is, or the name Tom Ford. Kanye and Hova might be in the upper or upper middle class, but A$AP’s proclivities for Givenchy and Margiela surely superseded his fame. As such, how does status come into play with regards to Simmel’s “fashion?” Lady Gaga definitely makes a point to express her individuality and artistic creativity, but would Simmel call this “fashion?” He emphasized the importance of group interaction in the formation of sociation, so is the adoption by a group of people required to achieve “fashion” distinction? I may not be Raf Simons or Tim Gunn, but I don’t foresee Gaga’s meatsuit or flying dress being sold in our local malls.

I don’t think answering all of these questions is imperative, but that engaging and interacting with Simmel’s ideas is fitting tribute enough.

I’ve included a link to a Rolling Stone piece about Lady Gaga’s “fashion” moments as well as some images of the celebrities mentioned above.

Blog 3: Simmel on Fashion

In Fashion (1904), Georg Simmel addresses how the concept of fashion is “the imitation of a given example and satisfies the demand for social adaptation” that “leads the individual upon the road which all travel, [and] furnishes a general condition, which resolves the conduct of every individual into a mere example” (307). As a society, we tend to look towards fashion as an aspect of social life that is built on the coupling of opposites which allows personal values to be expressed at the same time as norms are followed. We usually conform to the latest in designer wear as a means to aid us with social interactions, as we look towards various groups of people who share common interests in how to conceive a particular form of fashion. Modern individuals who are considered eccentric for not wearing the major name brands may feel pressured to buy the latest fashion trends in their efforts to be with the “in” crowd, become accepted by their society, and not feel detached from traditional anchors of social support. However, there always comes a point when society feels that their acceptance of a fashion is “out of style” and decide to deviate from it, which eventually leads to the ultimate abandonment/failure of this acceptance in order to make way for the establishment of a new taste in fashion.

In the 2012 film The Hunger Games, fashion is a very important aspect for the wealthy citizens of the Capitol, as their outlandish and colorful designer wear exemplifies how they live more lavish and wonderful lives than the citizens of the poor districts. It is also very common for them to tattoo/dye their bodies with bright colors, frequently wear wigs in a multitude of colors, and undergo plastic surgery to alter their appearances; some even go as far to have gems implanted in their skin. With the rise of developing fashion in the Capital, the citizens are able to signal or express their own personality or personal values, and the city intensifies a multiplicity of social relations and increases the rate of social mobility. The district citizens, however, view the people of the Capitol as alien, odd, and distrustful, and despise them and their various tastes in fashion. While being conscious of the fashions of the upper class, these individuals from lower strata formed traditional and small circle settings in which they view fashion as unnecessary and not have any meaning.

Seoul fashion and plastic surgery.

*This is a repost of what should have been sent out a month ago, but was found in my draft box*

As a Korean-American, I was not at all surprised by the “insane” fashion trends or popularity of plastic surgery. I am a fan of Korean pop culture so I know how common it’s become over the last couple of years. The reason behind it is because of the growing popularity of Korean celebrities. Many of the celebrities have big eyes, high noses, and heart shaped faces. So many teenagers (girls and boys) and young adults look up to these celebrities that they’ll do whatever it takes to be like them and in some cases, look like them. Many singers and actors/actresses are sought after due to their good looks so much that if a “not so attractive” person becomes a celebrity, they’ll joke around saying “they must sing or act really well”. The weird thing is, when they get these procedures done, you’re able to tell who got it because they all start looking like one another.

Plastic surgery is becoming so common that high schoolers receive double-eyelid surgery as a graduation present from their parents or relatives. Plastic surgery advertisements and doctors offices can be seen all over Korea. Last summer I spent my summer vacation in Korea and I witnessed one of the weirdest experiences of my life: I was in a convenient store in Gangnam (known for its high fashion and night-life) browsing through different make-up products when I bumped into a lady by accident. I turned around to apologize and was shocked to see her swollen face wrapped in bandages due to the recent surgeries that she’d undergone. I was taken back at the fact that she wasn’t embarrassed walking around in the middle of the afternoon indirectly telling people that she encountered that she had gotten plastic surgery done on her face. This was shocking even for me.