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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Minority Fashion Contexts

Published: May 28, 2019


Elaine Ritch, Glasgow Caledonian University ; Lindsey DRYLIE CAREY, Glasgow Caledonian University; Catherine Canning, Glasgow Caledonian University; Irene Garcia, Glasgow Caledonian University; Emine Akin, Glasgow Caledonian University; Jennifer Brown, Glasgow Caledonian University


The fashion industry is highly competitive on a global platform, and mainstream fashion retailing is dominated by homogenous international chains, such as H&M, Zara, Topshop, Gap and Primark. Similar prepotency is replicated in the UK and most high street fashion retailers compose of the brands listed above, alongside UK retailers, for example M&S, Monsoon, New Look etc. Further competition is intensified with solely online fashion retailers, including ASOS, Boohoo and IntheStyle. Given the levels of competition, some well-established retailers in the UK have been forced into liquidation in recent years (for example House of Fraser, Debenhams) and the current marketplace concentrates on speed to market (rapid reactions to newly evolving trends) and lower price points. The implications that this dominating fast-fashion business model has upon the fashion industry limit choice, in terms of heterogenous styles and alternative consumption options that avoid allegations of exploiting the environment or garment-workers, which have been levied for a number of decades. Moreover, this homogenised approach to design, retailing and marketing does not take into account that fashion consumers are heterogenous, in terms of style, demographics, psychographics and related idiographic moral, ethical and political constructs. This special session presents research into fashion consumers who do not fall into a homogenous profile; we argue that these ‘minority’ consumers are neglected by the mainstream fashion industry due to assumptions they are no longer interested in fashion, as is the case of mature or generation-X consumers, or disinterested in westernised fashion trends, as assumed of Muslim fashion consumers or have preferences for subculture fashion, as sought by vintage consumers. We argue that this narrow vision neglects to recognise these cohorts have significant market potential. For example, the research carried out by Amores et al. and Brown et al. illustrate that more mature consumers are still involved with, and care about, their appearance, leading to engaging with cosmetics and fashion. Further, many of this cohort have a higher disposable incomes and seek indulgent experiences. Yet, Amores et al. and Brown et al. illustrate how marketers both misunderstand this cohort and focus on younger consumers as their main demographic. Similarly, Akin et al. presents research that has found that young Muslim women are highly involved in fashion, constructing and recreating western fashion to respect their religion. Within the growth of the Muslim population and emancipation of Muslim women, this cohort also has significant spending power. Finally, Canning et al. examine the appeal of vintage fashion. Whilst this may seem like an antithesis to the fashion industry, Selfridges in London recently opened a concession brand that buys and sells second-hand clothes among the designer ranges. Rising interest in redistribution fashion markets is a reaction against allegations that the fashion industry is a major environmental polluter, exploits workers in developing countries and focuses on homogenous styles. Collectively, this research adopts a more diverse approach to fashion consumption through examining the neglected fashion consumer and provides rich insight that can inform the product and service innovation, as well as marketing.