More than clothes hangers: cultural intermediaries in the field of fashion

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Lonergan, Patrick P.
Patterson, Maurice
Lichrou, Maria
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Purpose: This paper aims to elucidate how cultural intermediaries shape the subjectivity of other marketplace actors in fashion, thus preserving the illusio underpinning this field of cultural production. Design/methodology/approach: Narrative interviews were conducted with cultural intermediaries in the fashion industry. These were supplemented with non-participant observations, carried out simultaneously during the research process. Interview transcripts and field notes were analysed using a combination of holistic-content and categorical-content analysis. Findings: As the fashion field is constructed around beliefs as to what constitutes value, the empirical data demonstrate how fashion models’ embody the illusio of the field and authenticate the values, meanings and identities inherent in it through aestheticised and rarefied styles of performance. These activities seduce other market actors and engender a willing suspension of disbelief that in turn mobilises affective intensities resulting in perceptions of legitimacy. Research limitations/implications: This research adds greater clarity to what cultural intermediaries do when they mediate between economy and culture. To do this, our research is analysed in terms of the ritual performance, the sensibility of the model, the use of the body and the performative fusion. Practical implications: The paper offers practical implications insofar as it deconstructs the two core ritualistic aspects of the fashion industry which each season yields significant tangible outputs in various forms. The combination of narrative inquiry with observation allows for a better understanding of how these events can be best channelled to mediate the illusio of this cultural field. Originality/value: To date, there has been very little consumer research that explores cultural intermediaries and less still that offers an empirical glimpse of their performance. This research adds greater clarity to these embodied performances that legitimate other market actors’ suspension of disbelief while also demystifying the ambiguity with which cultural intermediaries are discussed in consumer research.
Framing , Bourdieu , Cultural intermediaries , Fashion modelling
Lonergan, P. P., Patterson, M. and Lichrou, M. (2018) 'More than clothes hangers: cultural intermediaries in the field of fashion', European Journal of Marketing, 52(9/10), pp. 2052-2074. doi: 10.1108/EJM-03-2017-0198
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