Roland Barthes and the End of the Nineteenth Century
Roland Barthes was a French philosopher, linguistic, critic and theorist. He was also the first begins systematically to think through the intellectual changes in the study of fashion and clothes. His fashion theory has a close relationship to his structuralism and linguistic knowledge, and defined fashion, clothes their origins and functions within the system.
First of all, Barthes saw fashion as a whole system. Based on the article, system has been defined as ‘a group or set of related materials or immaterial things forming a unity or complex whole. Fashion as a sort of system, has the features of that parts cannot be explained without interpreting the relationship to the whole system. Also, fashion is should be explained by other dimensions in the society too, such as social facts, and so on. So, he summarized the thoughts like ‘fashion system is the ‘totality’ of social relations and activities that are required for fashion to come into existence’.
He pointed out the systematic society relies on structured human activities, and human economic activities can be divided in three dimensions: Production, distribution and consumption. Respectively, he divided ‘garments’ in three dimensions based on the theory: firstly, ‘real garments’, which corresponds to the dimension of production; ‘represented garments’, corresponds to the dimension of distribution; ‘used garments’, relates to the dimension of consumption. So, fashionable garments are not belong to the real garments, instead they are representative garments since they are in the realm of distribution that producers want to ensure that the garments are satisfied the demand of consumers. Followed by the explanation, the chapter focused on the introduction of the three dimensions of garments. Real clothes, which arises to indicate the modality clothing assumes before it is translated into the garment of representation. They do not...
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