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Thread: Cycle-stages of social preferences (AKA fashion cycle)

  1. #1

    Default Cycle-stages of social preferences (AKA fashion cycle)

    A useful construct to classify exposure to trends/changes in social mores and preferences is the six categories of cycle-stages. Their characteristics are shown in the table below

    Cycle-stage / % of pop. / Source of inspiration / Preferences

    Avant-garde / 0.1% / Creativity & Recycling retrogr / Unknown to general population and mainstream media

    Connected / 4.9% / Imitation / Known or adopted by a restricted elite

    Aspirational / 25% / Imitation / Adopted mostly by ‘edgy’ media and trend-conscious

    Mainstream / 40% / Imitation / Mass-consumed but represented as desirable

    Unfashionable / 25% / Imitation / Former mainstream no longer considered desirable

    Retrograde / 5% / Tradition & int’zed rewards / Broadly considered archaic or obsolete

    For any given choice/life value there may not be a single continuum or set of parallel tracks (separate continua by economic group/age) that conform perfectly to that schematization. That is especially true of more abstract value (as opposed to commercial choices). However, it is a useful construct for marketers and societal observers.
    Some point of interest are:

    Ø The mechanism by which a preference transitions from one group to another

    Ø The permanence of a preference in ‘higher echelon’ stages even as it cascades down the stages

    Ø The dual source of inspiration for preferences at the extremes of the stages (avant-garde and retrograde)

    Ø The partial recycling of retrograde preferences into avant-garde ones

    Ø The virtual unknowability of avant-garde preferences until, ex-post, they have filtered down to the ‘connected’

    Ø The fact that, whereas the 'connected' are very often urban/urbane and professional, teha vant=-garde often is localized and economically marginal (though far from always)

    As an example that might resonate with most people we would characterize two sets of choices along this continuum (for middle-class men)

    Cycle-stage: Means of locomotion

    Avant-garde: ???
    Connected: Non-car / Hybrid car
    Aspirational: Car-based SUV
    Mainstream: SUV
    Unfashionable: Toyota
    Retrograde: ‘luxury’ sedan / non-car

    Cycle-stage: Dress for a ‘formal’ evening out
    Avant-garde: ???
    Connected: Mix of designer grunge and retro-preppy touches
    Aspirational: Designer grunge
    Mainstream: Suit-jacket without a tie
    Unfashionable: 'smart slacks’ and a blazer or sweater
    Retrograde: A suit worn with a tie
    Last edited by Luca; May 9th, 2006 at 09:31 AM.

  2. #2

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    before anyone gets all disappointed as happened on another forum, I didn't filch this from somewhere. There is no 'source'. It's just a thought I had.

  3. #3
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Luca, do you live on the second floor?

    I think I have seen you before.........

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca
    I'm sorry, I just heard something late at night.

    You know, some kind of trouble, some kind of fight?

    I am not asking you what it was or anything....

  6. #6

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    whatever...if you're not interested in teh threead, surely you've got something interesting to do with your time


    ...hmm, maybe not

    after all yer a Ninja...do you still have the 'throwing stars' you odered off the back of that comic book when you were 11?


  7. #7
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca
    whatever...if you're not interested in teh threead, surely you've got something interesting to do with your time


    ...hmm, maybe not

    after all yer a Ninja...do you still have the 'throwing stars' you odered off the back of that comic book when you were 11?


    Nope, I used them to kill my sister's "Rainbow Bright" and "My Little Pony".

    And as for the Ninja, they aren't ninja. Its a Hedge.

  8. #8

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    Where's Fabrizio on this one?

  9. #9

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    Luca, I’ve pondered your ruminations. I think you’re spot on with the phenomenon you analyzed, namely fashion.

    I agree that most aesthetic objects go through all these stages in their lifecycles –avant-garde, connected, aspirational, mainstream, unfashionable and retrograde --and so does many a person’s taste in the normal course of a lifetime. At each of these stages you’ll find various-sized gaggles of folks, stuck for a time in their niches, though they usually migrate slowly over their lives from the avant-garde (when young) to the retrograde (when old).

    Perceptive of you to chronicle all this, even put numbers to it, and recognize its inevitability –a little like the passage of the sun across the firmament. You’re truly the Heinrich Woelfflin of fashion: the chronicler of its inevitable arc through time. In your concentration on fashion, however, you overlooked a seventh stage.

    The seventh stage is hors de categorie, like the soul after life. It’s immortal, it’s (finally!) free of fickle fashion’s cycle and the vagaries of time. In the afterlife it appeals to various percentages of the population (average: about 5-10%), but it’s recognized by the culture as a whole. The source of its inspiration is truth eternal, and its preferences are for the same. That’s why the select elite of objects that populate this seventh category are revered by knowledgeable people for the rest of time. This category is called the classic.

    The classic is recognized as the best, will be seen as such until it’s inadvertently destroyed; and it will be seen to have been the best all along –while it lurched through your six stages of fashion—whether or not it was recognized as the best during its odyssey. In the end, a classic becomes inspiration for the next wave of avant-garde, and the cycle begins again.

    Here’s the dictionary definition:

    clas•sic (klasik)adj. [Fr. classique, from L. classicus of the highest class of Roman citizens, of the first rank, hence superior, from classis, a class.] 1:of the highest class or rank. 2: of recognized value; serving as a standard or model of excellence. 3: in fashion year after year; of enduring interest, quality or style. 4: characterized by simple lines. 5: balanced, formal, objective, austere, regular. 6: traditional, historically memorable; noted because of special associations. 7: characteristic of the ancient Greeks and Romans or their culture. 8: authentic, authoritative, typical. 9: in accordance with established principles of excellence in the arts and sciences.


    * * *

    In architecture, here’s a building everyone agrees fits every subset of the above definition of a classic:


    Palladio’s Villa Rotonda, oil painting by Carl Laubin.
    Less is more: four sides and only one elevation. Everything is structure.

    Here’s another:


    Strong Reason and Good Fancy, oil painting by Carl Laubin.
    Trained in architecture, Carl Laubin (1947- ) paints classically and renders for Leon Krier.


    Nicholas Hawksmoor: Christ Church, Spitalfields.
    Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736), an extremely classic architect.

    Two buildings with more than a little in common, both classic:


    Hawksmoor’s Mausoleum.Oil painting by Carl Laubin.
    This building’s about death. It’s round; that makes it perfect as death itself.


    Hawksmoor: Mausoleum, Castle Howard.
    Space the columns close, so it seems they have a lot to bear.


    Mausoleum, Castle Howard.
    A tragic building decays. After a while the stones don’t match; it’s becoming a ruin. 100% of this building is stressed structure. What you see is what you get.
    One column/lintel condition and an interior. The interior is for dead people, who are stored in drawers.


    Mausoleum, Castle Howard..
    The Howards have been coming here for ages to their rest.


    Castle Howard.
    They live just yonder in the big domed house by Hawksmoor and his friend, Vanbrugh.


    Mausoleum, Castle Howard.
    Being on a little hill, they dominate the landscape for miles around, even from the grave.


    Mausoleum, Castle Howard. After many a summer...
    Make it static. Death doesn’t move or change. Death is immortal.

    .

  10. #10

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    The persistence of an idea. A train of thought through time, conveyed by classics.
    Another classic based on the same ideas:


    Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House.
    Less is more. Everything is structure.


    Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House.
    The interior is for live people, who are encouraged to think they’re really outdoors, because as much as possible of the building’s not really there.


    Mies: Farnsworth House.
    One column/lintel condition and an interior. The interstices are filled in with mullionless glass. Or they’re filled in with even less: nothing.


    Mies: Farnsworth House.
    100% of this building is stressed structure or entirely transparent. What you see is what you get.


    Space the columns wide; this building’s about life. Besides, we’ve discovered structural steel.





    A classic building: of the highest class or rank; of recognized value; serving as a standard or model of excellence; in fashion year after year; of enduring interest, quality or style; characterized by simple lines; balanced, formal, objective, austere, regular; traditional, historically memorable; noted because of special associations; characteristic of the ancient Greeks and Romans or their culture; authentic, authoritative, typical; in accordance with established principles of excellence in the arts and sciences.







    A thing of beauty is a joy…





    forever.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca
    Cycle-stage: Means of locomotion
    Avant-garde: ???
    Connected: Non-car / Hybrid car
    Aspirational: Car-based SUV
    Mainstream: SUV
    Unfashionable: Toyota
    Retrograde: ‘luxury’ sedan / non-car
    Classic: Bugatti Atlantique

    Quote Originally Posted by Luca
    Cycle-stage: Dress for a ‘formal’ evening out
    Avant-garde: ???
    Connected: Mix of designer grunge and retro-preppy touches
    Aspirational: Designer grunge
    Mainstream: Suit-jacket without a tie
    Unfashionable: 'smart slacks’ and a blazer or sweater
    Retrograde: A suit worn with a tie
    Classic: Tuxedo

    .

  12. #12
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    I took a fashion marketing class in college and the most money to be made on a trend is during the post peak period (Mainstream).

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by stache
    I took a fashion marketing class in college and the most money to be made on a trend is during the post peak period (Mainstream).
    Makes sense. Did they *astonishment* use a similar breakdown of stages to the one Luca came up with?

  14. #14

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    Can't those factors be applied to almost anything????

    I mean any particular item of manufacture that is not instantly invented goes through these stages. I think most people call that list "new to old". Using the example of computers here we go:

    avant garde - Linux laptop
    connected - 64-bit dual processor windows box
    Aspirational - Mac Book Pro
    Mainstream - Dell Notebook
    Unfashionable - Dell desktop
    Retro-grade - old school IBM computer (i.e. before Lenovo)

    I don't know about "classic"

    Given a few minutes of slacking off at work - I bet you we could come up with the same thing for Christianity or Faith in general.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentPandaesq
    Given a few minutes of slacking off at work - I bet you we could come up with the same thing for Christianity or Faith in general.
    Lol, go ahead and slack off; I'd love to get your take on this.

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