Focus on Fashion

24 May 2011

Leading scholars of fashion theory explored the importance of emotion to understanding modern fashion at the STI-sponsored Fashion and Emotions Graduate Seminar on May 19-20.

STI cosponsored the Fashion and Emotions Graduate Seminar at the University of Navarra the 19th and 20th of May. The event, in which more than 30 people from all over the world participated, was organized by the Institute for Culture and Society's Emotional Culture and Identity (CEMID) project.

The seminar brought together senior and junior researchers in the field of fashion, with the aim of better grasping the increasing relevance of emotions in the contemporary fashion world.

CEMID director, Ana Marta González, noted that the conceptual distinction between taste and emotion can help to characterize and interpret the current emphasis on emotions. Taste involves a common standard, against which fashion can have an impact by introducing aesthetic novelty. Emotion, however, is purely subjective. Yet it is precisely this latter aesthetic judgment that the fashion industry has tried to harness.

Laura Bovone, director of the Center for the Study of Fashion and Cultural Production at Milan's Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, observed that emphasis on the emotional aspect of fashion is taken to be a relevant sign of our current emotional culture, distinguishing it from previous emotional culture(s) in developing the contrast between modern and postmodern approaches to fashion.

Lucia Ruggerone, senior lecturer in sociology at the Università della Valle d'Aosta and Diana Crane, emeritus professor of the University of Pennsylvania and noted author in fashion studies literature, also participated as speakers in the seminar, highlighting the importance of fashion in post-modern material culture and the empirical study of the emotions in fashion, respectively.

Efrat Tseëlon, cultural theorist and Chair of Fashion Theory at the University of Leeds, noted the importance of the emotions in marketing research, saying "This is something that market researchers have noticed long ago, and it is influencing their market strategies, from emphasizing the objective qualities of products, current strategies emphasize the subjective 'shopping experience'."

Read Professor González' opening remarks.

Read Mercatornet's post-seminar interview with Professor Tseëlon entitled "I feel, therefore I buy."