Being part of a fashion community means something different to everyone. Age, gender, and passions are only the start for participants. Fashion is a powerful visual tool. For some, fashion is a creative outlet and a form of self-expression. For others, communities are a network for meeting like-minded people. Most recently, social causes have become a prominent link to fashion communities. Right now, they hold more power than just being somebody’s call for inspiration. So, why do we participate in fashion communities?
Fashion and Subcultures
Fashion has become a vehicle of empowerment and as history tells us, it is a powerful one. For instance, the 1920s became a defining moment for women. The Flapper era. During this time, women bonded over short dresses, short hair and rebellious behaviour. It was a visual statement of liberation. As an attempt to remove stereotypes, this fashion community became a symbol of women’s rights. Fashion was used as a vessel. In a similar thread, the 1960s was the era of the Hippie Movement. As a result of instability in America, fashion became the glue for solidarity. Flowers were used symbolically to show beauty in what was masking real life. John Lennon famously said, “Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow”. Therefore, subcultures used fashion to project their collective voice and united identity. Are fashion communities still this symbolic in today’s society?
Fashion and social causes
Storytelling is a common theme in fashion. Being part of a fashion community can be a way to navigate your moral compass. Recently, the Black Lives Matter protests displayed elements of fashion communities. On one hand, participants wore black to demonstrate their respect. This is an example of people becoming members of fashion communities, based on their moral beliefs. The Black Lives Matter movement also united fashion communities from leading fashion brands unite in this cause. From designer t-shirts advocating racial justice, their garments helped increase participation. Moreover, this has also given opportunity to celebrities and social media influences a new audience. For example, Pink attended a Black Lives Matter protest wearing a t-shirt with Rosa Parks quotes. Stepping outside of her traditional fan community, Pink’s visual statement was in solidarity for racial equality. Therefore, acting as a shared experience, fashion communities are becoming increasingly linked to social causes.
Online platforms and identity
Identity. A journey into finding the true you. Online platforms has changed the way fashion communities participate and communicate. For example, Instagram has introduced a new level of community, one that provides an income. Social media influencers offer a new and diverse ways of maintaining identity. Based on strong visual aesthetics, Instagram influencers allow communities to follow and interact with those who directly appeal to them. For instance, Jess Hunt is a up and coming influencer who has partnered with multiple brands. Hunt has 969k followers, inspiring women with street style and evening wear. However, with fashion communities having more presence online, it can be overwhelming when considering a new one. Alternatively, Pinterest is a host for multiple fashion communities, with other 335 million users. With the organisation of pinning and collating images for mood-boards, Pinterest can offer an authentic representation of what can truly inspire.
Fashion communities in 2020
In 2020, fashion communities have adapted due to the current circumstances. Sometimes, society can be a noisy environment but fashion offers a form of escape. Coronavirus has affected various aspects of society and has altered communication indefinitely. Unable to socialise, isolation tested the way fashion communities communicated. In its purest form this highlights how fashion is a visual message and does help send ideas and thoughts to those of similar nature. COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of having social media platforms. They have become proactive, not reactive. In terms of self-expression and identity, life in isolation is only strengthening our community dialogue. For example, fashion communities displayed their connections by supporting NHS workers. These groups took a selfie in a t-shirt, celebrating the work of the NHS and raising money. Camera lenses on phones became pens on paper.
Fashion communities are outlets for many people in society, a creative expression for what they are wanting to say. History tells a narrative that fashion can unite and symbolically represent groups. A powerful way to be recognised. In short, identity and belonging is at the core of why people participate, something that is being challenged in 2020. However, subcultures are still using their connections and communicating through a collective voice. Fashion communities can be anyone’s outlet, an experience to help guide, inspire and support. What fashion community will you become a part of?