Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Updating the Fashion System? Using Language to Create and Maintain Authenticity in the Online Avant Garde

Updating the Fashion System? Using Language to Create and Maintain Authenticity in the Online Avant Garde

Travis Kruso

There is a certain type of language used in online discussion boards and personal blogs in the self-described Avant-Garde Artisanal fashion community that utilizes many of the “Variants of Existence” conceptualized by Roland Barthes.  It is through the use of these variants in praising and criticizing the outfits of others, and in describing their own outfits, that individuals are able to express both an understanding and an appreciation for this particularly niche sort of fashion while simultaneously creating a knowledgeable and legitimized online persona for themselves within the community.  It is language, and language alone, that provides the power and influence within online Avant-Garde Artisanal fashion communities; but it should be noted that there is a certain type of language used.  This language is shared, learned, and experienced through collaborative efforts.  Further, the very act of participating in online discussions helps to democratize fashion, as it places the power to make meaning in the hands of “regular” people (i.e. not fashion editors). But even with that power shift, it’s dubious whether or not fashion becomes more accessible, or if accessibility simply shifts into new hands.

April 6, 2017 - Posted by | abstract


  1. A small but important quibble: I would recommend some changes to your title. I thought initially when I clicked your paper that it would be something about tech lingo, or new slang online. What about “Using language to create and maintain authenticity in online avant garde fashion communities”? I think having both the words “fashion” and “community” are important in there, since that is the type of language you look at, and authenticity has a lot to do with community creation and building.

    Comment by Rebecca Sawyer | April 17, 2017 | Reply

  2. Travis, this is a very interesting research topic. How did you decide to focus on online fashion communities?

    Comment by Emily Lock | April 17, 2017 | Reply

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