Individuality in The Fashion Industry: Qualitative Data

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1464 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

Words: 1464|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

Individuality is defined as, the quality or character of a particular person or thing that distinguishes them from others of the same kind, especially when marked strongly’ (Individuality, n.d.).

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The idea that all humans are individuals and that each individual is different from one another is seemingly logical. Each of our life experiences is tailor-made depending on where we come from and what we do; which further reflects onto the way we behave, the opinions we have and the choices we make. Such difference is often celebrated in the creative spheres as an expression of the human spirit. It is seen as a quality synonymous with uniqueness, self-realization, identity, non-conformity, and free-will. And, the absence of this quality is usually perceived in a harshly negative light.

In the digital age, ‘where the lines between privacy and public(city) have been blurred’ (21th Century Fashion History: 2010-2017, 2017); the need for individuality is no longer just limited to the creative circles. Rather, it is the only thing that stands between a person being labelled ‘Instagram-worthy’ as opposed to just ‘basic’ (Mak, 2015) and while efforts have been made to redeem the word, in particular, the phrase ‘basic bitch’ (Rosasco, 2016); it is still mostly associated with the negative i.e. as being unoriginal/ordinary. But, who exactly decides whether one is truly an individual?

It is empowering to see oneself as unique, but the norm for uniqueness is defined by the parameters of what everyone else thinks ( Borecka, 2017). Which begs the question, who or what makes an individual? And, is one really an individual if they are the only ones who seem to think so?

‘Fashion’ does not have a singular definition or meaning; it could be interpreted as an outlet for self-expression or as a cumulative representation of the current socio-cultural scenarios. For some, it could mean a lifestyle choice while for others it could be a subject of vanity. But, what remains an unspoken constant in all explanations is that for fashion to be of relevance, it needs to be accepted and/or practiced by an audience. (Sproles, 1981)

The fashion industry taps into this very idea of ‘acceptance’. As it is in human nature to desire for a sense of belonging while separating themselves for personal expression; similarly in the fashion industry, there is a liberty to stand out while being carefully placed under a label for identification (eg. lolita, pastel goths, yuccies etc.) (Worn Through, 2014). And, if someone doesn’t fit in anywhere then the industry will find a way to put a label on it too (eg. fashion laggard, anti-fashion pleb etc.) This paradox is further highlighted by the existence of trends and media which dictate that being fashionable requires keeping up with the trends because “in fashion, one day you’re in and the next day you’re out” as famously said by model Heidi Klum on Project Runway.

And, while being fashion today is still dictated by what is ‘trending’ and what is not; the source of these trends are not the big brands or runways or forecasters anymore. Digitalisation has completely changed the trend landscape, and, trend inspirations are becoming more ubiquitous. In an interview by Business of Fashion, Marc Worth, co-founder of Worth Global Style Network (WGSN) said,“Today, the idea of a bunch people sitting in a room and deciding what the colours are going to be in two years’ time or what materials are going to be used in three years’ time is a complete nonsense” (Abnett, 2015). Trends and their shelf life are now controlled by influencers and consumers on social media. (Abnett, Petrarca et al.) This has further changed the way brands market themselves. The need for a strong brand identity has become a primary concern because the consumers today have shifted their focus from what the product is to what the product represents (Zegheanu, 2017). They demand that a brand engage them with authentic messages and interactions (Tyson, 2016) and allow them space to infuse their own personalities and perspective into a product to make it ‘un-average’ and possibly unique (Follows, 2015).

There is also an abundance of social media posts, blogs and articles that spread the message of ‘self-love’ and encourage individuality. Positively, such attitude has been able to inspire diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance (Karg, 2015) but has also, as mentioned earlier caused an overwhelming pressure to be an embodiment of self-expression in order to be ‘socially approved’ (21th Century Fashion History: 2010-2017, 2017).

With reference to the context, it is safe to presume that in the current fashion scenario (2010+) individuality is a driving factor in popular trend and culture. So much so that, that it could in itself be recognized as a landmark trend. With everybody constantly expressing or trying to express their individuality, ‘self-expression’ may be the deadening ‘conformity’ of our time (Curtis, 2017). Therefore, this paper seeks to study individuality as a fashion trend and understand its effects on the current fashion scenario. The need for such a study is further emphasized by the existence of counter trends like NormCore and Minimal Chic. These trends believe in ‘adaptability over exclusivity’, where one does not pretend to be above the indignity of belonging. They see normality as a rebellion to individualism   and create a fresh concept of individuality which seeks for expression not through looks but through other sources. This paper will also be looking into these countertrends as their beliefs are in tune with its core theory i.e. true individuality in the context of fashion is a utopian concept. Also, by studying these trends backward, the paper aims to gain more insight into the individuality phenomenon.

In the current scenario, people are celebrating individuality and taking a lot of measures to ensure that they are being ‘themselves’ every moment. This is being further fuelled by several media ads, articles and blog posts that provide readers with information on how to be a fashion individualist and how to stand out. This process has also changed fashion marketing in a tremendous way and has brought into the mainstream many ideals like diversity, gender fluidity, and eco-consciousness. There is also a counter undercurrent that has brought into discourse the futility of the same but a gap lies in the research of this characteristic as a trend in the fashion context. This paper aims to do so by understanding and redefining individuality. The research may help foresee future fashion trends and be of relevance to fashion education and businesses.

This research will be approached in an exploratory design due to the subjectivity of the topic i.e. individuality. Such an approach leaves room for unanticipated and idiosyncratic outcomes while ensuring the consideration of small details in a bigger context (Bryman, cited in Karg, 2015).

A mixed method approach seems most suitable for data collection. Qualitative data will be gathered by studying current trends influenced by individuality and the role of digitalization in it. This will be supported by data collected from observation of fashion personas on social media platforms, specifically the Instagram model. The personalities will be selected depending on their popularity and individualistic attitude. The result of which could provide a better understanding of the motivations behind this sudden need for constant self-expression. Observing popular social media personas may help provide an insight into the modern consumer psyche and give a new meaning to the word ‘individuality’.

Data will also be gathered from interviews targeted at people from the fashion industry i.e. students, educators, style influencers, and brands. The goal of this is to record opinions that may help understand the current attitude towards fashion and forecast a possible future for the fashion market and education as mentioned in the objectives.

Secondly, qualitative data will be gathered by putting in place an online questionnaire targeting the mass consumer market. The purpose of this is to find out how big a role individuality plays in buying motivations in order to deduce whether or not individuality could be considered a trend. The goal of the questionnaire is to reach as many people as possible to ensure that the findings reflect a majority sentiment.

The biggest limitation of the research lies in the subjectivity of the topic. There are three ways it may affect the findings:

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  1. Choice of online fashion personas could be subject to personal opinion
  2. No one wants to see themselves as un-individual, it’s empowering to see oneself as a unique (Borecka, 2017). Such thinking could influence the data collected through interviews.
  3. The meaning of individuality may differ depending on geographical locations and socio-cultural scenarios.

Additionally, basing a lot of the study around social media platforms makes the target audience vast. This may cause problems in data collection with reference to the limited time-frame.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Individuality in the Fashion Industry: Qualitative Data. (2018, August 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from
“Individuality in the Fashion Industry: Qualitative Data.” GradesFixer, 05 Aug. 2018,
Individuality in the Fashion Industry: Qualitative Data. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
Individuality in the Fashion Industry: Qualitative Data [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Aug 05 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from:
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