Fabricated Consumption: Desire and Affect in the Fashion Industry

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Copyright: Mojel, Breeze
Since the 1990s the fast fashion industry has garnered a reputation for the use of exploitive and unethical practices, prompting an enquiry into the fashion industry by geographers, particularly regarding the exploitation of workers within developing nations. However, despite focused efforts to eliminate the unethical practices that have become so synonymous with fast fashion, only small improvements have been made. Academics acknowledge consumers have a key role to play in fashion’s current problematic state yet attempts to actualise consumers as key actors in the industry’s upheaval have produced lacklustre results producing a shift in focus back to the brands and host countries. Taking seriously Gilles Deleuze’s statement that every ‘problem has the solution it deserves in proportion to its own truth or falsity’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1994, p. 159), the lack of movement on this issue is in part due to the questions being posed to it. Rather than questioning how to reconstitute fast fashion to exist within a morally acceptable framework, first both fashion and ethical production need to be separately dissected into their composites so as to identify and critique their assumptions and generalities. In following this approach, fashion’s genesis as both commodity and cultural phenomenon is re-examined through the works Gilbert Simondon and Gillies Deleuze, providing a basis for fashion as both an aesthetic object of sensation and desiring-machine. Here fashion’s productive nature is elucidated. Through the amplifying nature of aesthetics, I outline how fashion’s engagement is more than a tool for reproducing and solidifying concurrent collective thought or fulfilling a desire produced through a perceived feeling of lack, but a productive medium for novel individuations, new subjectivities, and the ability to produce a more active or joyful existence. Finally, seen in such a way, we can examine ways to reposition the question of fashion and ethical manufacture so that it does not immediately cut off those affected by the fashion industry, from their capacity to act leading to a more ethical industry.
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