Celebrity Influence in Fashion and Wardrobe
It is not a secret that the only permanent thing in this world is change. Change can be seen in our everyday lives, but it is most evident in today’s fashion industry. A glimpse of Hollywood would support this claim, coupled with how regular consumers shop under the influence of their favorite celebrities (Bryner 1).
Not all people are aware that every time they shop for clothes and accessories, they are influenced by the media. The truth is, they actually are, even without their knowledge. Researches show that consumers are now turning as copy-cats because of the power of media and what it presents to its audience. What do regular viewers copy from their favorite celebrities? Music, style, make-up must-haves, regular items on the closet, show brand, dog breeds and yes, even the names of their babies. It does not take a genius to notice that the influence of celebrities on shopping and wardrobe is significant (Bryner 6).
In this day and age, what can be considered a part of our daily routine is not even food anymore, and especially not walking the dog at the park after work. Today, since technology is highly used, it is no surprise that it is also a constant part of our everyday lives – the technology being in itself a package complete with information and entertainment all rolled into one.
We go to the office and surf the Internet, we take breaks and watch the television, we go home, take cabs, and listen to what is playing on the radio, we reach home and see our sons and daughters watching their favorite television shows. The media is everywhere, and there is no excuse why celebrities can be no influence on our shopping manners and wardrobe.
The trend setters these days are not exactly the people behind brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Jimmy Choo. The trend setters these days are the people who introduce new fashions to the public. Who are they? Could it be an officemate? A neighbor? A cousin?
Trend setters these days are no other than celebrities because it cannot be the officemate who is seen only by a thousand people in the office building. It could not be the neighbor who only gets out of the house to water the plants in their front yard. It certainly is not a cousin who cannot even measure up to the fashion statement of the most unglamorous magazine sensation of the month. It is, of course, the celebrities who we see on television everyday. As the great philosopher and educator Marshall McLuhan said in his theory called Technological Determinism, “The medium is the message” (Straubhaar and LaRose 51). The expression popularized by McLuhan can be vague, but its meaning explains exactly how celebrities influence the way we shop and the way we dress up.
First, when he said that “the medium is the message”, we should consider that the medium being described here is mass media. It can be the television, the Internet, the radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards and all the other instruments that media practitioners use to disseminate information to the public (Straubhaar and LaRose 51).
The message, in this case, is also the media. McLuhan means to say that whatever form of mass media we use is the tool we choose to shape us. Whatever type of technology we use the type of technology we choose to influence us when it comes to the way we act, fell and think (Straubhaar and LaRose 51).
While this may still seem unclear, “the medium is the message” tells us that while we have the media to rely to when it comes to information and entertainment, the processing of every bit and piece of information relies heavily on us viewers, too. Our lifestyle depends on how we interpret the information given to us (Straubhaar and LaRose, 2005, p. 51). Today, in this world where people are determined by the technology that they use, it is no wonder that a brand like DKNY is considered the symbol of divinity in the fashion industry. It is no wonder that Coke is popular, that basketball players want to play like Michael Jordan, that little girls want to dance and sing like Britney Spears, and that teenagers want to live a life like Paris Hilton (Bruce, et. al. xxvi).
These days, young adults wear head bands with big ribbons and these accessories are not here from nowhere. They are apparently coming from the new television show Gossip Girl which a lot of teenagers and young professionals watch, the headband being the trend set by one of the stars in the show named Blair Waldorf (Kwan 14).
The whole cast also has currently set the trend on colored tights, which we can see being sold on almost all markets today, not only in the United States but in the other continents in the world, especially Asia, naming Hong Kong as the best example (since this country is known as a shopping hub offering the latest fashion trends in the world). (Kwan 14)
The effect of celebrities on regular consumer’s shopping behaviors and wardrobe can also be seen in Michael Jackson, who cannot deny that he was convinced by the media that whites are better than blacks. This resulted to the artist bleaching his skin and going through all the possible surgeries to make him appear black. Today, the influences of Christina Aguilera and Cher, among many other celebrities, gave rise to teenagers and young adults going through plastic surgery, in which this procedure has grown more popular and more common than ever (Bruce, et. al. xxvi).
Now, aside from mass media, even the economy has something to do with this, too. First, let us take a look on the theory Technological Determinism, in which a “global village” is suggested to be created. Since economists certainly believe that a global village is created from all these forms of technology, they surely make efficient use of it, too. The question, then, is how (Bruce, et. al. xxvi)?
Businessmen use the television, the Internet and all the other forms of mass media to know what the masses want. Most of the time, they set standards and show it through televisions and other forms of media for the people to see. This way, the viewers start to believe that a new trend is coming and as expected, they follow it. Mass media, then, indeed creates a “global village” which big companies, businesses and institutions now use as a tool for globalization.
How is this done? Before using globalization, companies use “glocalization” where marketing strategies are applied in a local or a regional area first, before extending to other places. Product designs are introduced by big fashion companies. Each fashion piece is customized for each demographic profile, to have something that suits everyone. This strategy is then called “multidomestic strategy” in which the consumer tastes of today are surveyed through mass media before supplies are provided to the people (Bruzzi and Gibson 58).
How do companies conduct survey? Fashion companies have surveys programmed on the Internet where consumers can give suggestions. Since we can now shop online, companies can learn about what product or what style sells the most through their website. Consumer feedback loops, coupled with celebrity influence on shopping, indeed shows and defines the shopping behaviors of the people (Bruzzi and Gibson 58). In any awards’ night, the news everyone looks after the next day is whoever was best-dressed or worst-dresses. Magazines, websites and television show all photos of celebrities showing their evening gowns, and not their actual awards for the night. This clearly shows that celebrities instantly turn into being the spotlights when it comes to fashion and when we say “fashion”, it means trend, shopping and wardrobe and not just the evening gown worn for the night. It cannot be denied that media influences the fashion sense of people.
The media is a tool that makes everyone feel that they need to have something. Companies who produce these fashion pieces use the celebrity as a marketing tool, and that is how it naturally rolls (Breward 109).
Breward, Christopher. Fashion. Oxford University Press, 2003.
Bruce, Margaret, Christopher Moore and Grete Birtwistle. International Retail Marketing: A Case Study Approach. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2004.
Bruzzi, Stella and Pamela Church Gibson. Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explorations and Analysis. Routledge, 2000.
Bryner, Jeanna. “Scientists Discover Key to Fashion Trends.” Live Science. 28 March 2007.
22 September 2008
Kwan, Amanda. “Gossip Girls Set Fashion Trends.” 26 August 2008. Associated Press. 22 September 2008 <http://www.azcentral.com/style/fashion/articles/2008/08/26/
Straubhaar, Joseph and Robert LaRose. Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture and Technology. Thomson Wadsworth, 2005.