Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Reappraising the Residual, Part 1

Posted by nathanpowers22 on February 13, 2017

Phrases like “the clothes make the man,” “dress for success,” and “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” are all things I’ve heard before and always made intuitive sense, but “A Global History of Secondhand Clothing” really drives at the heart of the matter. Clothing truly is a “means by which information is encoded and […] transmitted” and a medium that’s enabled the spread of those messages on a global scale. This concept is increasingly interwoven with the idea of “brand fandom” mentioned in “Retrobrands and Retromarketing,” as evidenced by the existence of things like “sneaker head” culture; there was even an exhibit on it at the Louisville Speed Museum last year. That is, there are a lot of people out there who only wear Jordans or Yeezys, for example, because their devotion to those brands (and the celebrities who popularize and endorse them) is so great. Jordans especially exemplify the power of retrobranding because there are so many examples of rare and “classic” models that date back decades and go for prices in the thousands, tens of thousands, and even $104,000 in the most outlandish case [1].

Other examples can be found in streetwear circles as well with brands like Supreme and A Bathing Ape limiting access to their merchandise from the inception of their respective companies. The exclusivity of even their newest products drives up the price point that much further for limited-run and vintage prints. I think all of these brands—except Yeezys since they aren’t exactly “retro”—satisfy most of the six characteristics that give “sleeping” brands value as outlined by Kozinets, which may help to explain their success. The dormancy aspect may lie in the idea of highly valued items being considered “hidden gems” in addition to their age. They all have evocative designs that capture the minds of the aesthetically inclined (perhaps some more than others). Utopianism is a little iffy, but I could see that being some effortlessly cool vibe transmitted by simply purchasing and wearing the an item from the brand in question. Solidarity is one of the biggest factors in my mind, with popularity of certain brands being driven by sports fans/athletes for Jordans, skateboarding culture for Supreme and Bape, and hip-hop/rap for all three, which I think is probably the greatest reason for their respective iconic statuses. Rappers seem to set many of the trends observed in today’s youth culture, and many of them have a shared interest in fashion, which has become immortalized in countless songs and music videos.

Also, here’s a link to that Casablanca balloon thing from “YouTube and Archives in Educational Environments,” if anyone was curious about it [2].


[1] – https://financesonline.com/top-10-most-expensive-air-jordan-sneakers-ever-sold-michael-jordans-flu-game-shoes-top-the-list/



One Response to “Reappraising the Residual, Part 1”

  1. adusheck said

    I agree that clothing is a means for communication. This is nothing new but we see that a lot in today’s society as we are constantly judging others based on what they look like in general. This is especially true today because of social media.

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