Function of Signs in Postmodern Fashion Brands (Identity Found or Lost?)
The present situation of clothing and fashion refers indicates that the new middle class generation associates more importance to a clothing’s brand rather than its quality, beauty and other common element and considers it as a way of self-presentation to others. Brand is one of main the concerns in designing and producing commodities, especially in fashion designing industry. In general terms, brand refers to the name and logo of a product, while it conveys a more profound concept in the professional world. The classic definition of brand is: the interaction between the consumer and the product with the intention of shaping the consumer's identity, creating a sense of belonging to a specific product to ensure its continuous use and thus cater for economic benefits. Brand is a system of signs and symbols that involve the consumer in a process of symbolic participation and mental interaction that turn to be the tangible values of a product. This system is organized by a complex matrix of indicative factors. So, usually, its realization is possible through relying on a complex of connotations such as quality, beauty, form and etc. The present research concerns the signs' function in todays' clothing fashion industry and the consumer's behavior in contact with it. In the modern industrial age, every brand was trying to persuade the consumer of the advantages of a product in terms of its superiority, distinct identity and a specific social class through aesthetic factors and signs such as quality, beauty, high costs and etc. As a result, the consumer used to do all his/her best to own the product and that was how the Brand was able to create and provide identity. This way, the leading brands of industrial age became an incentive for creating mental associations and were also able to establish some sort of stable and fixed image about themselves in the minds of the consumers beyond the product codes and the customer's personal mental ambience. At that time, brand was a seamless totality and the design found meaning through production. Every brand used to not only define its consumer class but also set the competition atmosphere and concentrate on this limited yet permanent market. However, in postmodern and present post-industrial age and with the advent of globalization, the structures have changed. Some factors have revolutionized the former situation of brands. Some of these include the surge in competition and consumption, diversity of societies, tastes and cultures, variety of choices for the previous users who were in minority, social classes with different incomes and eager to use brands and finally, fake products of high quality. This will transform one of the most important exterior expressions of the brand: the symbolic expression. The study aims to investigate the functional characteristics and role of the signs in the formation of the consumer's identity and maintaining his/her loyalty to the brand with the purpose of acquiring economic objectives. It also intends to examine the influence of the changes on the signs. With the study of the brand function, the identity, the sign and their relation with fashion’s functions, the changes in signs as well as the relation of the clothing’s brand with the consumer to define identity will be revealed. The research has employed descriptive method and the theories of great postmodern intellectuals including Roland Barthes and Jean Baudrillard on fashion, connotations and signs act, and also Charles Sanders Peirce semiotics to define the rank of signs in a product (clothing) have been applied. The results indicate that besides the postmodern developments in the transformation of structures, the attempts to develop markets and maintain the connection with the consumer, the brands have replaced modern, symbol-index based signs with that of direct implications, self-referrals and inducing identity through iconic immediate interpretations while they still apply connotations to form the user's identity. Such attempt results in decreasing the consumer's role and his/her resistance when facing a brand and results in using the simple symbolic exchange. This can be called a de-identifying process with much transformation.
Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Journal of Theoretical principles of Visual Arts, Volume:5 Issue: 1, 2020
144 - 155  
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