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Does Men's Fashion Reflect Changes In Male Gender Roles?

2086 words - 9 pages

This paper aims to study if men’s fashion magazines reflect any changes to men’s roles in contemporary society, and if yes, how do they reflect them and what changes are these. In order to achieve this, an image from a men’s fashion magazine will be used. The image will be analysed from the point of view of the consumer, male audience, and demonstrate how men perceive the meanings of the image, if they are influenced by the information they are exposed to and how they have used such information to construct or express their identities.

Starting with the study, very brief particulars will be given regarding the concepts of fashion, fashion magazines and advertising through them and how the conception of men’s fashion magazines has changed over the course of time. Then the image in question will be analysed, using theories of fashion and different references to relevant texts in order to reach the paper’s aim.

Fashion has an extremely important role in everyday life in modern society. Fashion is more than clothing, it has to do with a variety of things such as hairstyles, accessories, make up, furniture, vehicles, colours and more (Kratz and Reimer 1998). According to Kratz and Reimer (1998, p.193) “fashion can be seen as a form of collective behaviour”, is a social process in which people use to show and to construct an identity. Since we are continuously forming our identity, fashion can play an important role in this process.

In contrast to women’s fashion magazines, men’s magazines of ‘general interest’, including fashion magazines, is a relatively new expansion market (Jackson et al 1999). Until recently, magazines for men were either focused on nudity and explicit images, such as Playboy or Penthouse or with a specific focus on cars, gadgets or sports. According to Gauntlett (2008), publishers were aware of the gap in the market, but felt that men would not want to read general lifestyle material, which promoted new interests including attitudes to health, relationships and fashion.

In the 1980s British magazines such as Esquire and GQ introduced the 'new man', a man who is more caring, more style and self-conscious, dressed for success (Jackson et al, 1999). These magazines created a new consumer market and along with the wider cultural concept of the ‘feminine’ side of masculinity in the 1990s, a new generation of men's lifestyle magazines emerged to fill the gap in the market (Jackson et al, 1999). Some well-known examples of today’s fashion or lifestyle magazines are Vogue Hommes, Esquire, GQ and many others.

Image and Topic Analysis

Starting with the image analysis, the main object to analyse for this study is a photo from the cover story of GQ magazine for January 2014 (see fig. 1), which displays Bradley Cooper, an American actor and Hollywood celebrity. According to the magazine’s description, Cooper is wearing a Tom Ford outfit - t-shirt, jeans, blazer and a belt - with total value over $4.500 and Louis Vuitton loafers.

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