Fashion is an organisation of knowledge based on restricted access to goods and services. The fashion industry provides a functionalist perspective into Bourdieu’s field theory and the critical divisions reproduced therein. With reference to three cases studies, an expository insight into the field of fashion, particularly in terms of the participants within hierarchical boundaries, the culture required to join the field and the marks of distinction associated with clothing, will be empirically argued to further understand this macro-structural concept that exists within society. Ultimately, the usefulness of Bourdieu’s with regard to contemporary fashion will be shown.
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Social capital is exercised when an individual purchases tickets to the event, material evidence attesting to the hierarchal structure of the event, as the status of an individual determines their tiered-seating (Entwistle and Rocamora, 2006). Individuals who are associated with elevated social capital move freely within the social network of field participants and have access to the highest tier seating (Entwistle and Rocamora, 2006).
Within the context of LFW, cultural capital includes individual’s knowledge regarding fashion, designers and upcoming trends and can collectively be regarded as a non-financial social asset, which promotes social mobility beyond economic gain (Entwistle and Rocamora, 2006). Both social and cultural capital invests great prestige within the event, which is further reinforced with habitus.
Habitus refers to deeply embedded, pre-reflexive capacities and competencies that are practical and embodied (Bourdieu, 1997). Both social and cultural capital within the London Fashion fields is displayed in the form of clothing, which when worn, alludes an individual’s bodily habitus. Habitus is extremely signiﬁcant for the reproduction of one’s position in the ﬁeld as it can be likened to an objectified form of cultural capital that is displayed in the guise of clothing and accessories from fashionable and exclusive brands and are all highly dependent on economic capital. Within LFW it is imperative that individuals articulate fashion capital, position and habitus in the ﬁeld.
The clandestine world of haute couture is not the easiest to infiltrate. Haute couture refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing that is constructed by hand from high quality, expensive fabric (Kinmonth, 2007). Individuals who are invited to join the “secret club” of haute couture require four types of capital. Economic capital, the only capital which arises in a monetary form and can be seen during instances when members are required to pay a club fee as part of their membership and are housed at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel during Paris Fashion Week (Kinmonth, 2007). The economic capital required to join the club, while never stated, is assumed to be an exorbitant amount.
Members of the club, all display a formidable amount of social capital. Within the club, social capital is essential to the acquisition of tickets to shows. An elevated social capital allows individuals to access after-show parties, where they mingle with other members who are equally elevated with social capital. Intricately woven with social capital, cultural capital is displayed in the etiquette all members of the club are expected to display which portrays a refined and sophisticated upbringing. Cultural capital reflects the finer nuances of the field; the knowledge of upcoming fashion trends and how to behave in a social acceptable manner. (Kinmonth, 2007). Lastly, symbolic capital refers to the resources available to an individual with regarded to honour,...