Consuming Fashion: Adorning the Transnational Body (1998)

By: Anne Brydon & Sandra Niessen, eds.

Clothing the body is one of the most complicated acts of daily existence. When a nun ponders red shoes, an architect knots his bowtie, a lesbian laces her Doc Marten’s, or a nude model disrobes, each is engaging in a process of identity-making that is both intensely personal and deeply social. In an increasingly material world, negotiating dress codes is a nuanced art, informed by shifting patterns of power and authority, play and performance, as well as gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity and race. Drawing on ethnographic knowledge to connect theory and practice, authors reveal links between material culture, social and economic forces and personal performance — from trade beads to Barbie, and from Taiwanese producer to Nike consumer — to explain clothing choices through time and across cultures. Conventional understandings of the self, subject and society are shown to be inadequate when examining the interconnections of cultural and transnational economic systems of production and consumption that have a profound effect on human choice. Social climates in which dress accrues meaning are increasingly global climates, where women’s bodies are commodified, gender categories are rigidly bound, and sweatshop labourers are slaves to boundless consumer appetite. This interdisciplinary book represents an important contribution to a fascinating and contested realm of human experience, and will be indispensable for anyone interested in the sociology, anthropology and psychology of fashion, cultural studies or the fashion industry.

More Information


Oxford: Berg, 1998
ISBN: 1859739695 9781859739693 1859739644 9781859739648
OCLC Number: 901661173
Description: 196 p. ill.

Table of contents

Table of contents

Acknowledgements vii
Introduction: Adorning the Body ix
Sandra Niessen and Anne Brydon
1. Sensible Shoes
Anne Brydon
2. The Cultural and Historical Contexts of Fashion
Aubrey Cannon
3. Transformations in the Use of Traditional Textiles of
Ngada (Western Flores, Eastern Indonesia):
Commercialization, Fashion and Ethnicity
Andrea K. Molnar
4. Transnational Commodity Flows and the Global
Phenomenon of the Brand
Ian Skoggard
5. Fashioning the Body in Post-Mao China
Xiaoping Li
6. The Body of Art and the Mantle of Authority
Gordon Roe
7. Breaking Habits; Gender, Class and the Sacred in
the Dress of Women Religious
Rebecca Sullivan
8. À la Mode: Fashioning Gay Community in
Ross Higgins
9. A Tale of Three Louis; Ambiguity, Masculinity
and the Bowtie
Rob Shields
10. That Barbie-Doll Look: A Psychoanalysis
Jeanne Randolph
Biographical Notes

About the author

About the author

Anne Brydon is an associate professor and chair for the Department of Anthropology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her fieldwork has focused on the Icelandic people. Her research interests lie in the Anthropology of post/modernity and post/modernism; representation, visual studies, ethnographic writing; ethnography of experimental and transdisciplinary approaches to visual arts; cultural politics of environmentalism; cultural theory.

Dr Sandra Niessen earned her PhD cum laude at the State University of Leiden, in The Netherlands. She was Associate Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta, Canada, until 2002, where she taught Material Culture, Cross-Cultural textiles, and the anthropology of fashion. In 2002, she became an independent scholar in The Netherlands working primarily on repatriation projects, writing, exhibitions and film projects. Her research has focused on the textiles and the textile revival of the Batak people of North Sumatra, Indonesia.

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