PurposeAn individual’s identity is defined in the role that they devise for themselves, based on social positions. Examining identity motives can help in understanding what influences one to take on a particular role. Self-esteem is one of the major motivational drivers in determining the role that an individual takes on. Individuals, through self-presentation, are said to be motivated to control the impressions others form of them. In this way, self-concept and fashion innovativeness are linked – with prior research suggesting that those with high levels of fashion innovativeness are also those with a strong sense of self. Where a gap remains, however, in exploring the direction of the relationship between self-concept and being more innovative and fashionable in clothing choices, as well as how individuals reflexively judge their own fashion choices against their perception of others – e.g. can you force yourself to be a fashion leader? The paper aims to discuss these issues.Design/methodology/approachThis study takes a lived experience approach to examine fashion as a tool in establishing social hierarchies amongst women. The study uses depth interviews with ten women to explore the developed self-concept of women actively engaged with fashion consumption.FindingsThe research presents a typology of fashion identities, exploring notions of security, dominance and innovativeness in self-fashioning using clothing.Research limitations/implicationsThe research is exploratory, and limited to a sample of ten women. However, the study offers a number of key findings to drive future research in this area.Practical implicationsThe research finds that both security of self-concept, in relation to fashion and general self-esteem, as well as insecurity, can motivate women towards fashion independence. This suggests that identity-based marketing is likely to be more successful than lifestyle-based marketing, when selling women’s fashion clothing.Social implicationsIn prior research, self-concept and fashion innovativeness are linked – with prior research suggesting that those with high levels of fashion innovativeness are also those with a strong sense of self. This study finds that those with an insecure sense of self may also exhibit fashion independence, using fashion to acquire social capital.Originality/valueThis paper illustrates the concept that, unlike previous notions of fashion independence and engagement with fashion, these fashion-involved categorisations of behaviour are not always driven by sophistication, confidence, creativity and low fear of risk. Instead, this study has shown that fashion innovativeness can be motivated by an overarching fear of the outcomes of being judged unfashionable.
Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 12, 2018