An examination of the impact of cultural changes, in particular popular music, over the past fifty-five years on retailing, in particular fashion retailing
Fashion and popular music are constantly adjusting and changing as they are being impacted on by factors such as current social-cultural changes and the economy. This essay is exploring how these two elements have changed, affected and influenced each other over three decades in the late 20th century. Data will be gathered in the form of primary research, academic literature and other media-related articles to support the theory with evidence and practice, before attempting to predict what this means for fashion retailing in the future.
It is evident that the varying economic state of Britain had a huge effect on consumption in the music and fashion industry. In the 1960’s, often referred to as the defining decade of the 20th century, there was said to be a major change in young fashion as a ‘reaction to the dismal war years and the restrictions of the ‘50s.’ (Tregidden and Robertson 2007) Respondent 1, a post-war child, who remembered spending what little disposable income she had on current trends, confirmed this. Her fashion choices were greatly influenced by Top of the Pops, whose artists, in particular Carole King, reflected the freedom lifestyle typical of the hippy culture in the 1960s. A podcast on BBC radio 2 suggested that, in Carole King’s hit track ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ she used her “uplifting, powerful and positive character” to create a “social commentary on status symbols.” Respondent 1 felt encouraged by Carole’s music, to begin treating herself to luxuries that weren’t available during the war, which mainly consisted of fashion clothing. This idea is supported by Shinobu (2008 p.513) who stated that it was at this time “clothing transformed from durable goods to consumables” as “the fashion boom was seen first among young people who gained from the post-war full-employment regime, and then among working women.” This suggests that increasing freedom of women after the war and clothing price deflation towards the end of the decade, meant that fashion items were becoming more accessible and allowed women to more easily expresses themselves through their clothing. This had an impact on retailers, as they could begin marketing their goods as ‘niche’ products aswell as for the mass market. As the post-war generation grew older throughout the 70’s, women were given more freedom politically, as the Abortion Act in 1967 was passed, and in the workplace. Alongside this equal opportunity legislation, it was noticed that predominantly “career-orientated women” were spending a lot of their personal income on work wear that made them “presentable” in the work place (Bartos, 1989). Younger teens such as respondent 2 felt she became more aware of female pop stars rising to fame, as opportunities for women grew. Because of this, she suggested that her and her friends naturally developed an idolised view of singers who related to them on personal issues, such as Carly Simon. Furthermore, a journal by Shinobu (2008 p.505) took the view that teens in the early 70’s “became highly
influential consumers for the fast-moving fashion market, as teenagers bought
designer outfits and accessories to emulate their idols.” This had a major impact on retailers, as they were now able to present many of their services and goods as a way for women to express their personalities and newfound freedom. This was particularly relevant when marketing clothing inspired by Mary Quant, famous for the miniskirt, as she was “convinced that fashion needed to be affordable to be accessible to the young” (Biography on Bio.) Mary Quant, who famously said “I made short skirts so that you could move and dance, and run and catch a bus,” (Radio 4) changed the way women wanted to dress, and therefore had a direct impact on fashion retailers in the UK, as they had to present new and daring...
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